Following up something as fresh and different as Kick-Ass is clearly impossible, even for someone as good at freshening things up as Mark Millar. It’s the perennial problem with sequels, especially sequels of things whose greatest impact is due to their difference. The first Kick-Ass was so well executed, taking the tired old superhero concept and pulling it back to Earth with a crude and violent jolt, that everyone, even Hollywood, sat up and took notice.
Kick-Ass 2 is more of the same, which is good in the sense that it’s a well-written and illustrated depiction of what might happen if masked vigilantes took to the streets. What it lacks is the shock value, despite trying very hard – perhaps too hard. A good chunk of what made the original Kick-Ass so great was its originality, the slap in the face you got from the ludicrous violence and swearing, and the realisation that, under the costumes, this is just a bunch of kids living out their superhero fantasies.
Kick-Ass 2 is a straightforward sequel, and its shocks and surprises have less of an impact, simply because we’ve seen it all before. This won’t disappoint fans who are into it for its gory, street-wise, over-the-top action. But it’s a disappointing follow-up for the connoisseur, who might be hoping to relive the innovative thrill of the original.