Describing “Kick-Ass” as his John Hughes movie, by way of “Kill Bill,” comic book superstar Mark Millar says the third volume of his smash hit creator-owned series delivers a definitive ending to Dave Lizewski’s heroic journey.
Does he die? Millar wouldn’t say, but Kick-Ass’ remarkable story does come to a close with the release of the final issue of the next volume, which launches on June 5.
Published by Marvel’s ICON imprint, Millar told CBR News that “Kick-Ass 3” — once again showcasing the artwork of living legend and co-creator John Romita, Jr. — centers around Dave’s realization that he no longer needs his Kick-Ass identity for personal life fulfillment. But the world needs Kick-Ass, right? Dave himself is surprised by the answer he finds online.
Millar also confirmed Hit Girl and Red Mist, despite their ambiguous states at the end of “Kick-Ass” 2, play prominent roles in the final volume, revealed that everyone in “Kick-Ass” is either someone he knows or a character from “Star Wars” and the potential for a fifth installment in the “Kick-Ass” saga — even though this series is definitely its finale.
CBR News: As much as “Kick-Ass” is super-fun and super-violent, it’s ultimately a young man’s journey, not unlike Joseph Campbell taught us about some sixty years ago in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” isn’t it?
Mark Millar: Absolutely. The whole plan, all along, is that “Kick-Ass” was about a guy growing up. This is a John Hughes movie meets “Kill Bill.” It’s all about a rite of passage. It’s about a kid whose mum has died and he’s not really that enchanted with the real world. He’s become absorbed in this fantasy world of comics but he’s taken it to the next level and gets dressed up as these characters.
And “Kick-Ass 3” is the moment where he says, “Hang on. This is a bit weird.” He suddenly thinks, “I love doing good and everything, but I’ve met this girl and real life is becoming all right.” He questions, does he really need to be Kick-Ass anymore?
It’s an unusual thing, because you’ve got a natural ending for a story. And it can end a number of ways without giving anything away. But yes, to answer your question, it’s very much the end of a journey that we started in 2008. When I had the first issue out in 2008, I knew what the last scene in this was going to be.
Honestly, did you ever expect this kind of response?
It sounds weird, but we’ve actually only had 20 issues with these characters. That’s already generated two movies and we’re already talking about the possibility of other stuff. That’s crazy, because something like Spider-Man ran for 1,200 or 1,500 issues before getting a movie. We were really lucky that we had a movie after the first arc.
The fact every arc is being turned into a movie is kind of crazy. You can never really take that for granted.
I did have a weird feeling about this one. When I got back the first pages from Johnny in 2007, he was really excited, which is always a good sign. I thought, there is something about this. When I saw the character standing there in his little wet suit and everything, I felt like he already existed. It suddenly felt that we could be onto something. Every so often, you do get lucky like that.
Hit Girl was another one. The minute those pages came back from “Kick-Ass” #3, I was thinking, “Holy shit. We’ve got something here.”â€¨
You’ve teased a little bit about what we’ll see in “Kick-Ass 3” — Dave’s working in a comic book store and Mindy’s in an asylum — and now that you’ve shared the first six pages of the first issue with us, we know a little more. What else can you tell us about the arc?
I like the idea of the opening as the raid on the asylum where Mindy is being held. “Kick-Ass” is always about what would happen in actual life, so I liked the idea that it’s like “Mission Impossible.” Here is the plan, here are the blueprints, we’ve got everything we need, we’ve got all of this amazing equipment from Hit Girl’s headquarters — let’s go do this. And they go and the wall is really, really high and they’re like, “Well, we’re never getting over that wall. That’s it.” [Laughs] Because if my friends and I were trying to bust someone out of prison, that’s exactly what would happen.
“Kick-Ass” is just taking a superhero conceit and then giving it that little twist. The guys are all like, “Oh, yeah. We should totally get her out. But right now, might not be a good time.”
And that’s the thing that’s in the background for the rest of the series, because no one is able to break her out.
It reminds me a bit about the novel and movie “The Commitments,” which features an Irish pub band thinking they’ve become the biggest thing since U2 when really, they’re just an Irish pub band.
That’s totally right. That’s a really great observation. I wrote a scene earlier this morning, which is Kick-Ass standing and looking out the window in his costume, and he’s wondering, “Can the world survive without Kick-Ass?” And then he goes online and literally no one has heard of him. The notion that he’s the guy that’s got the orange helmet. You are obviously the hero of your own story, but you know no one would really give a shit if Kick-Ass ceased to exist.
If I remember correctly, Mindy was going to be the lead of “Kick-Ass.” I guess it’s obvious, but how important was it to find Dave or have Dave find Kick-Ass and have he and Mindy share this journey?
I wrote two issues back in 2006 or 2007, really early on, where it was Mindy as the lead — one of those issues subsequently became “Kick-Ass” #6, the one that had all the flashbacks of Mindy being trained — but it just didn’t work. Imagine if “Star Wars” started from Han Solo’s perspective. You just can’t identify with him — he’s too cool! You needed Luke Skywalker.
Once I had Dave, and I basically wrote Dave as myself, age 16, then Mindy interacted perfectly with him. It just suddenly all gelled together. Every one in “Kick-Ass” is someone from my life or from “Star Wars.” [Laughs]
Mindy is based on my oldest daughter — without the swearing. Believe it or not, I have a very strict no swearing rule in my house. And no killing, as well. [Laughs]
[Laughs] With those guiding principles, your next project should be a parenting handbook. “Mark Millar’s Guide to Parenting.” That would be an instant best seller.
Your children will turn out just fine even if you master just one of those rules. [Laughs]
But yeah, Dave is me at 16 and Mindy is my oldest daughter at 12. And Big Daddy is me as an adult. I used to do all of those fun things with her when she was younger. I’d take her to the swing parks and we’d do commando exercises like swinging along parallel bars and all that. We’d do these grueling father/daughter kinds of things.
Even girlfriends and those characters are based on people that I have known. I guess that the whole thing is a weird, messed up kind of autobiography. But this final book is Dave’s grown up journey. He’s about 19 years old and he’s realizing this isn’t quite what he wants to be doing with the rest of his life. His comics will always be beloved to him, but putting on the mask and getting into fights every night may not be too wise because he doesn’t have a super-dense Kryptonian molecular structure, so chances are, he’s going to meet quite a bad end.
That’s what “Kick-Ass 3” is about.
At the close of “Kick-Ass 2,” it was left uncertain if we’d seen the last of Red Mist/Mother Fucker. Does Chris play a role in “Kick-Ass 3?”
Oh, yeah. He actually has quite a big role. It’s funny — he wasn’t in it originally, because I was going to kill him off at the end of “Kick-Ass 2.” I’ll be honest, I think it was the movie that saved him and made us really love that character. We’ve become so friendly with Chris Mintz-Plasse and the idea of the finale without him seemed absurd. Normally, the movies don’t inform what you do in a book because you would drive yourself crazy if you were working like that, but I actually thought, he needs a true ending to his story, too. All the other characters get a proper ending, and I’ve got a really, really good ending for his character, which I wrote about two weeks ago. And it all makes sense. It all ties up really, really well.
Everybody gets an ending. The book really has three principals: Dave, Mindy and Chris. It would have been a shame to not have him in the third book.
In the last collection, you teased a fifth part to “Kick-Ass,” but it sounds like the story comes to an end here. Will we ever see a fifth part beyond the three “Kick-Ass” volumes and “Hit Girl?”
I’ve had the idea for a while about doing a Big Daddy and Hit Girl five-issue series, exploring Mindy’s origin, but I’ve managed to get quite a bit of it into “Kick-Ass 3.” I love doing those flashbacks. Through “Kick-Ass” and “Kick-Ass 2,” there were lots of fun little flashbacks with Big Daddy training her. It’s actually probably my favorite stuff in the series. And I thought I’d love to write a whole book of him Big Daddy training Hit Girl through those early days with a really young Mindy. In some ways it’s awful — and maybe this is my British sense of humor — but it really is funny to see a six-year old being forced into these military exercises. I just love writing that stuff. I’m just not sure if I’ll do it.
“Kick-Ass 3” is definitely the end of everybody’s story, but there is always the potential for that fifth book, and it would definitely, definitely be a prequel.
“Kick-Ass 3” #1, by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., is scheduled to be released from Marvel’s ICON imprint on June 5.
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