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Kick-Ass and the Hit-Girl debacle

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April 19th, 2010 at 9:36 am

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Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl in last weekend’s Kick-Ass

In my review for Kick-Ass, I only mentioned Chloe Moretz’s Hit-Girl briefly, though her role is getting the movie the most press. Roger Ebert called the film “morally reprehensible” and Kenneth Turan writes, “[Hit-Girl’s] language is so astonishingly crude that it has taken people’s attention away from all the killing she does, which is mind-boggling as well.” Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman mentions that Hit-Girl’s sadism isn’t much different from Bruce Willis’s in the Die Hard movies, and yet it is.

Because Hit-Girl is a little girl, played by an actress who was eleven years old when she filmed the movie. The movie is very, very R-rated, so I’m not concerned with her status as role model for other little girls (though thirteen-year-old Julia Rhodes would’ve loved her). What does concern me is the critical heat it’s taking because a little girl does most of the hardcore killing.

In Mark Millar’s graphic novel, Hit-Girl is hardcore. Did it translate well to the film?


Hit-Girl is drawing fire because she’s multifaceted, and all her parts don’t seem to add up correctly. She’s a little blond girl who talks about Bratz dolls, makes hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, and should be attending fifth grade. She also calls men “c**ts” (this is the bit that really irks a lot of critics, while many of them seem to be ignoring all the, you know, killing she does), opens her storyline by getting shot in the chest, and wields swords and firearms with the best of the boys. She does need to be rescued at the end of the film, but sometimes we all do. For the most part, this little girl holds her own.

Would critics be as upset if Hit-Girl were Hit-Boy? I doubt it. Girls are supposed to be sugar, spice, and everything nice. Bratz and Barbies and Easy-Bake Ovens. Boys, on the other hand? Well, we all know they’re playing first-person-shooter games and fantasizing about gunplay before they’re five, right? My mother protested too much Barbie play and encouraged my sister and me to be as independent as possible, and I can appreciate a girl who knows what she wants and gets it. I still spent parts of the movie chuckling uncomfortably with widened eyes, but I have love for a girl who outperforms the boys. Even with all the blood and cussing (which, as Gleiberman points out, is par for the course with male protagonists) Hit-Girl is a feminist character.

A purple wig and leather suit: Hit-Girl in uniform.

My friends and I (who are, I assure you, well above the requisite age of seventeen) got ID’d at the theater door, and yet the row behind us at Kick-Ass was full of teenage boys. During a scene where Hit-Girl goes on a rampage, slicing, dicing, and shooting up a room full of goons, one of the boys blurted, “MARRY ME!” That was maybe the most disturbing part of the movie for me, even if it was a joke. It’s not surprising, considering the sexualization of badass female characters–Angelina Jolie understands this trope better than anyone, and Zoe Saldana is working her way there. But this one is eleven years old.

Vaughn doesn’t really fetishize Hit-Girl (I was more uncomfortable with Dakota Fanning’s exploitative sexy scenes in The Runaways), but it unnerved me to hear commentary from boys obviously a lot older than the character. When I saw Transformers 2: The Fallen, my teenage male row-mate sported an obvious erection and moaned audibly when sexyface queen Megan Fox appeared onscreen, but at least Fox is of legal age. (That wasn’t the only offensive thing about Transformers 2, but that’s a whole other story.) So on the one hand, I appreciate Hit-Girl’s character because of her independence and basic feminism. On the other hand, she is still a child.

Nicholas Cage with Moretz, as Damon and Mindy Macready (Big Daddy and Hit-Girl), bonding over hot chocolate.

Chloe Moretz, who played Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s smart, sassy sister in last year’s 500 Days of Summer and is slated to play the child-vampire role in the American redux of Let the Right One In, certainly won’t have to pull a Christina Aguilera-Dakota Fanning-Miley Cyrus-Britney Spears-style “LOOK AT ME I’M NOT A KID ANYMORE!” stunt. She’s got a few roles under her belt that aren’t all kittens and rainbows and unicorns, and it’s a good thing. In 500 Days of Summer, I noticed she performed laudably and seemed to possess a composure and bright intelligence most young actresses simply don’t. I have faith she can separate her character from real life–and to assume she can’t is to take away credit she deserves for a job well done.

What do you think: would Hit-Girl be as disturbing to critics if she sported a XY chromosome? If you’ve seen the movie, did you find the character unnecessarily violent or crude? Would you have changed anything?

  • http://iamhit-girl.com Betan

    I would be proud to have a daughter like Hit-Girl. She’s smart, she’s talented, she can be a girl who drinks hot chocolate and goes bowling when she wants to be, she can save your ass when she has to. She has a sense of humor and if you noticed – she only really used the cursing when she was adrenaline pumped (just like soldiers in the heat of battle). And the “I’m just f**king with you” comment she makes when she tells Big-Daddy what she wants for her birthday … give me a break. I’ve been in malls, restaurants and on playgrounds hearing children younger than her say this! Are movie critics living la-la land? Contrary to popular opinion – the female is the stronger and more violent of the two sexes. Don’t believe me – watch the Animal Planet or give birth to a child. So why should Hit-Girl not be a strong female character – women of any age are strong, it’s only society that tries to dumb them down with pink dresses and barbie dolls.

  • ZimMan2

    I’m shocked at the amount of philisophical discussion on a movie which contains the phrase “F**k you, Mr. Bitey.”

    At the end of the day, Kick-Ass is a movie. Is it the best movie ever made? No. But it’s a damn solid peice of entertainment. And that’s what I absolutely fucking adore about it. That you can pick it apart all you want, but it’s still hella fun to watch.

    I’m going to admit it, I love Hit-Girl. And I do think she is a role model in some way. Am I saying that the little girls (or boys, for that matter) of America should go around killing people? No. Of course not. But I would applaud the day when 11-year-olds (male or female) would no longer be victims of street crime. I (and I hope most of these other people) am not promoting kids attacking people, but kids defending themselves.

    Now, if we were to take anything that Hit-Girl does in this movie, and plop it into the real world? Yes, it would be incredibly messed up. But you could say that about pretty much any action hero. John McClain, That Dude from Commando, Rambo, etc. Take what these men do in thier respective movies and apply it to real life. Would you still be rooting for them? I doubt it. Murder is murder, no matter what the age of the person doing it. Even if the person who gets killed was an awful human being, it’s sinking to thier level, in a way. There’s a huge moral and psycholigical complexity to it. Simply put, no one, young or old, should kill anybody in real life. We have a justice system for a reason.

    But in the black and white, good vs. evil world of movies, it’s an entirely different story. There are good guys and bad guys. The good guys can kill the bad guys and we can feel good about it not just because the context of the movie tells us the bad guys deserved to die*, but because in the back of out minds, we know that right after the director yelled “cut” for that scene, those “dead” bad guys got up, went to thier trailers, and got the fake blood removed.

    *SIDE NOTE: Kick-Ass, in a strange way, takes this concept to a new extreme. We have the most unlikely of heroes (an 11-year-old girl) rise up to take down a very strong evil (Frank D’Amico’s drug racket). It’s even more of a triumphant fantasy when you think of the victims you hear most about from these types of crimes: children.

    That’s the magic of escapist films. That for that 1 1/2, 2, maybe 2 1/2 hours, we can break out of the moral complexity of the real world and enjoy bad guys getting thier just desserts. Superhero films have been doing this for years, but rarely with the same amount of skill that Kick-Ass does. And on top of that, it pulls a Hot Fuzz on us, mocking the genre, but eventually saying “Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but we fucking love it! Let’s all join together and have some goddam fun with it!” And that’s what Kick-Ass is about: having fun. Forget real life, forget moral complexity, forget all of that for two hours and just enjoy the fantasy. Just as Spider-Man in 2002 made you wish you could swing on a web and fight the Green Goblin, Kick-Ass makes you wish you could find some random mugger on the street and just beat the ever-loving shit out of them.

    I need to stop. I could honestly go on about what I love about this movie forever. I’ll just leave you with my ramblings.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch that scene in Razul’s apartment on YouTube for the umpteenth time.

  • Jonas Barros

    It’s been a while since I felt so happy watching a movie.
    Everytime Hit-girl was in action I knew something incredible would happen. The first action scene at Razul’s apartment was a total shock, but I felt so good about it. Big Daddy and Kick-Ass rescue was one of the most beautiful e sad scene I’ve ever seen and very strange at the same time, and on the last part when she comes out of an elevator the most exciting part.
    I would like to thank God for allowing me to watch such a brilliant movie.

  • tetryl

    Hit-girl is an awesome creation and the movie would be crap without her.

    Hit-girl reminds me of a couple of my favourite movie charachters merged together. First one came to mind was Mathilda(Natalie Portman in Luc besson’s Leon) because their morals I think are quite the same. Resident Evils Alice’s was the second, reason obvious. Combat skills, brutality and sheer grace of it all combined. Sure, Kill Bill’s Gogo came to mind too but I love Alice so she’s my pick ;).

    Also I don’t really get why people diss our beloved Big Daddy for his performance as a bad acting Batman because unless your blind you should see THAT WAS THE POINT!. This movie and it’s characters are not to be taken too seriously.

    Best movie since Zombieland =)

  • dp1

    “would Hit-Girl be as disturbing to critics if she sported a XY chromosome?”

    I think so.

  • http://http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://calitreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/kick-ass-poster-hit-girl-e1271680898939.jpg&imgrefurl=http://calitreview.com/8541&usg=__OevGv3p6i Lucy Babye!

    Hit-Girl is awesome and i love her hair and her sense of clothing in the film -Kickass- <3 xx

  • Wardstone

    I absolutely loved Hit-girl as a character and when I found this forum I was looking for why she and her father were not more central characters – Kick Ass is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, but I still would have enjoyed it more with them as the leads. I’m sure the critics were just threatened that the 11 year old girl had bigger balls than they.

  • http://yahoo.com Eileen

    I was ecstatic to see an 11 year old girl kick the bad guys butt. In the real world girls and women are expected to be weak. Why should we be? I do not understand why females are not allowed to be strong,intelligent, and quick. Is that a major blow to the male ego? Females serve a higher purpose then to produce children, or cater to men. Get with it! I am 52 years old, and Kick-Ass is one of my all time favorite movies. I can’t believe that some considered it kiddie porn. Are their minds in the gutter, or what? Mindy was not exactly an expert, she still needed her daddy to get her through the rough spots. John, it is great that both of you daughters are capable of taking care of themselves. The great thing about the movie is I got to watch a little girl kill off a few bad guy, instead of hearing about a little girl who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered by some child predator. The movie is incredible! I am looking forward to KICK-ASS 2, set to come out in 2012.

  • Adam

    Absolutely loved her. Yes shocking but that was also the appeal. It shouldn’t matter which sex, or at what age, the actions and the language in this movie should not be appropriate. What a double standard we all live by. We preach to our children about the appropriate behaviors but seldom do we live by it ourselves. It’s just a fantastic feeling when you get to see the “bad guys” have their brains blown out. Make you wish it was that easy in real life. It’s time we took out the trash.

  • Lefrench

    One of the reasons why anyone sane loves this movie is because of it’s strong characters (or in any similar “heroic” movie). in the real world people are weak, mostly because everyone is kept so stupid by society’s subservient structure. it’s been this way since recorded time. it’s a fools belief that people are strong. generally we follow. we are blind. we let the selfish among us step all over us. we manipulate and get others to do the work for us whilst tithing them a fraction of their worth and actually get excited by our “good” business sense. we sell real estate, or ourselves or branding whatever other useless product we can con people into believing they need. gender is irrelevant. whoever is weak will be used. and whoever is weak will use others.

    But this movie gives us characters that are strong, they worked hard to be be physically strong, and they will not back down from their ideals (justice in the case of BigDaddy and HitGirl, and idealism to KickAss). these heroic characters have flaws yet are engaged in hope, justice and redemption, and tragic circumstances surround them. but still they persist. it’s an excellent moving film. and to be commended on a relatively amazing low budget yielding effects and scenes superior to many times more expensive movies.

    People who see more in it, like child porn, well, paedophiles will see child porn in an ink blot, so to hear certain people claim they see child porn in this movie is simply a good indication that those people are paedophiles or have paedophile inclinations, so their opinions on the matter are irrelevant. do yourself a favor and don’t bother reading them. it would just be boring and irrational to all you sane readers.

    ’nuff said

  • sjsosu

    Loved this film. One I will ad to the collection. I’d watch it over and over. Moretz steals every scene. The crazy half smile she has in the fight scenes is fabulous. Would I let me kids watch it? Not for a few years, but take it for what it is..entertainment and fine film making.

  • kc

    I personally think hit-girl is the best character in the movie and I wouldn’t want her part to be any different then it is. If it wasn’t for her swearing and killing then Kick-Ass wouldn’t be as good as it is. What I’m trying to say is all these parents and critics need to chill out and realize that cussing and violence isn’t that big of a deal. Many children, including me, were or are introduced into to it at an early age and they’re not any different. Kick-ass is what it is because of Chloe Moretz but you all have to remember that it is JUST a movie!

  • Jim

    Grow up Grandma

  • http://sassyweb.com Sasseh

    haha

  • Keith

    Oh fer pete`s sake, it`s a movie!

  • Grace

    I let my 4 year old daughter watch it and she loved it. She has watched it about 8 times now and knows the lines to parts of the movie. I’m looking online right now for her Halloween costume….yes she wants to be Hit-Girl.

  • Tim Hately

    I loved this movie. I’ve watched it over and over, and have’nt got tired of it yet. Can’t wait for the sequel.

  • http://www.johnhuntspace.com/kickass John Hunt

    Kick-Ass is my favorite movie of the year (so far) and I don’t see anything in the next couple of months that is likely to best it! Chloe Moretz clearly steals the show. I definitely look forward to her future projects.

    I think the whole Batman and Robinete concept is a lot of fun. The Rasul apartment scene is just priceless.

    Now the stats. Hit-Girl wins with by my count has 42 kills. Big Daddy comes in second with 9 and Kick-Ass last with 4. There are also 8 other reported kills but it not clear who did those (BD or HG).

    The movie leaves us hanging on a few details. What became of the $3 million the suitcase? Who got the two apartments full of weapons that Mayor Blumberg would certainly frown on residents of his city owning? Perhaps we’ll find out in Kick-Ass 2.

    One thing that is missed by most of the people commenting above is just who good the acting and directing is in this film. The mafia scenes were just great for example. Mark Strong and Michael Rispoli played there parts with authenticity. I expect will be hearing more from Matthew Vaughn in the future.

  • Pantalaimon77

    A bloody killer amazone being still a kid is such a provoking paradox that I can’t prevent to love it. The duality of this character, her childish vulnerability combined with so much power is totally fascinating. You still want to protect her while knowing she would be deadly against any offender. Anyway she is not a monster like Samara Morgan. Although her actions are immoral she is not evil. Besides, I’m fond of movies who’ve got the balls to break rules and taboos.

  • Bert

    Hey Geeks. Stop writing so much.
    This move is 4/5 stars. period.

  • gomez

    When I saw the movie for the first time yesterday, I didn’t know anything anout the plot, just had seen a brief interview with Nicholas Cage and I thought that there was something like Spiderman waiting for me… How wrong I was…
    The movie left me disturbed for all the violence it entailed, not for me people acting it out.
    That it was a little kid playing the murderer, well, that’s something we’ve seen before, I was instantly reminded of Leon’s Mahtilda, the 12-year old Natalie Portman and see what’s become of her…
    The difference is, Mathildas story was a deeply psychological one, whereas Hit Girl is just slaying around, due to her father’s revenge plan, which eventually leaves her being an orphant to be raised by her godfather.

    And I can’t be sure, but I think I were just as disturbed by an 11-year old boy, comiting all these murders.

    Okay, it’s an action movie and the over-graphic violence is part of the genre, but then I think I don’t like it. Because although perhaps a caricature, the movie enjoys itself way too much.

  • dana

    This is a comic strip brought to life–that’s it. I think some folks here are making far too much of the fact that the hero is a little girl, and she engages in violent acts. I don’t think it glorifies violence, as much as it celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and the idea that the little guy can be a superhero. Additionally, there is nothing as gruesome as, say, in the SAW films–there is no one that we see being slowly tortured. It is more in the style of cops and robber movies of the 40s where someone gets hit and they fall over. it is, in keeping with comic book style, all overly dramatic, from the music, the dialogue, the killing(who could seriously be that successful at killing that many people without getting hit)–not so real that we need to seriously worry our daughters will want to emulate Hit Girl. I personally can’t wait for the sequel!

  • Brian

    The problem here is that a little 11-year-old is fed a bunch of trash-talking lines that no 11-year-old should utter. All for adult entertainment. Sorry but that in itself is immoral. I just don’t like seeing a little kid being used like that. If you don’t agree, then you own personal morals are part of the problem.

  • Red spinel

    Yes, I did think that Hit-Girl was unnecessarily violent. For instance the moment where she impales a terrified woman with no real way of defending herself just for “kicks”, apparently. Uma Thurman in Kill Bill told a villain to go home to his mother in a similar situation. But not Hit-Girl. She goes in for the kill with a mean grin on her face. Not very heroic. In general I hate movies which expect audiences to cheer or be delighted when their protagonists commit atrocities against those who commit atrocities. An extreme example of this is Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious b******* where you had people in the audience shouting “Kill that ******* Nazi!” at the screen. It’s just stupid. Even if it is only a movie. Another, more comparable example would be Steven Seagal’s On deadly ground. Anyway, I feel the violence in Kick-ass is all just a bit too frivolous. One of the movie’s taglines “Shut up. Kick ass.” seems to indicate I’m right about that. Feel free to disagree.

  • Robbie J

    I loved kick-ass. what critics seem to get hung up on is the violence and swearing, even though this is a movie with a message to society. it is showing how callous and harsh our society has become. without the violence and swearing, kick ass loses its kick. for example, in the scene where hit girl is shooting up the room of baddies torturing her father and kick-ass, they show it from the first person because it is like a video game. that’s the point. if she had said, ‘all right, you jerks…’ instead of c***, it would have lost it’s meaning. if she had punched the criminals, it wouldn’t have made an impact. this was the point behind kick ass. we allowed it with fight club, can we stop caring about fictional characters in the movies do and start caring about the world?

  • alex taylor

    Not at all concerned with swearing and killing and violence perpetrated by a bad-ass girl. However, was concerned about the sexualisation part, and actually I did feel that her charector was fetishised a bit to bring that out, which i find highly dodgy.

  • anonymous

    ive seen the movie and im mature enough. its a great movie and anything with nicholas cage is brilliant. it might be violent but as it says in the review, all of us guys grew up in the life of shooting games and violence. im 14 and chloe moretz(hit girl) is 14 too. i love her and would give almost anything to spend a day with her. ive seen all her movies and seen her interviews of the ones to come. shes a great actor especially for her age and has loads of potential. its not wrong to have a dream girlfriend actor of your age now is it?

  • anonymous again

    some of you lot were surely just brought up by a woman who you were scared of. your just friggin’ childish. grow up and get used to the fact that there is danger and hate out there. so just leave your mums house and get a bloody life.

  • Lola

    I hate the way people are saying that the school uniform is innapropriate. SHE’S A SCHOOL AGE GIRL. I have seen girls yelled at at bustops outside school because they are dressed ‘provocitvely’ in their actual uniforms. She was wearing a long skirt and the shirt was tucked in – it wasn’t a ‘sexy’ one. (which I find disturbing as it is school uniform = probably illegal).

  • Phillip

    Nah, she was cute.
    and why do you mention the guy in the cinema, when there’s a joke in the movie about one of kick-asses nerd friends wanting to marry her, so the guy in the cin probably just quoted the movie.

  • Robbie J

    Really people? You’re that worried about her age? If you’re all such idealists that you don’t understand that this movie is nothing compared to real life, then stop watching and complaining about it. Go back to your magical land of fairies and unicorns and people who are all sweet to each other and leave us realists to deal with the world. To all you smart people out there that didn’t hate the movie based on Hit Girl, I thank you. You make the planet work when these people do not.

  • Patman

    My kid is eleven, a boy, and my other kid is twelve, a girl. I loved the movie and so did they. He plays Halo and Grand Theft Auto. I played him a YouTube BBC dramatization of the battle of Agincourt and only a minute or so into it he angrily says to me, ” Are you trying to make me throw up?”. Kids raised on Family Guy and Sponge Bob these days knownthendifference between quasi real and firmly cartoonish violence. BTW, I thought the scene with the Banana Splits theme was priceless. Julia’s review is spot on!

  • coco

    i love this movie but duse any one now were we can buy hit girl’s sword i’ve been looking for ages?

  • Asa

    Good and funny movie :) Especially that little girl is like a main hero in this movie :)

  • Animedude5555@

    Anyone who doesn’t like this movie should go watch some violent anime, like Elfen Lied, where you see you have murderous main character Lucy with her telekinetic powers, and in a flashback to her being a little kid you see she was still murderous back then. In the end of the anime you have another murderous little girl Mariko, who uses her powers to kill people. And when I say murderous girls in here, I mean they use their telekinetic powers to decapitate people, dismember people, and in general rip them apart.

    After watching that (or any other similar excessively violent anime in which the perpetrator of the violence is a child), I dare you to come back and still tell me that the movie Kick Ass is so bad for its portrayal of Hit Girl.

  • kunoichi

    Someone seen the movie about Lone wolf and Cub? It is also a comic (manga). Its about the Samurai who kills a lot of people with the help of his little son (about four of five years old) Daigoro. Even more graphic and bloody than Hit Girl: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Wolf_and_Cub
    http://www.youtube.com/channel/HCa2VPmDQUHUc

  • Dale

    Are you 8 years old? Just asking, based on your retarded post.

  • Brian

    Wrong. Kids loved the movie too. She had no problem with it, her mother didn’t either cuz she had heard all this language before. Don’t like it, don’t watch.

  • CastitatisLilium

    Ah! I LOVE ‘Elfen Lied’! ^_^

    But I do hope you realise that the anime isn’t just about violence. You have to remember that both Lucy and Mariko were led to kill by tragic pasts- Lucy was outcast by both the orphanage children and the adults who worked there. If you remember correctly, she wasn’t murderous at first. On the other hand, Mariko was locked in almost total isolation from human contact and allowed to believe that her own parents had abandoned her, never really learning right from wrong.

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