When I went and saw Kick Ass, thanks to the highly esteemed recommendation from a friend - whose opinion I trust - it was unfortunate that I was gritting my teeth through the whole film and could only breathe a sigh of relief when the credits rolled so I could get the hell out (I only sat through the whole movie to give it the benefit of the doubt, thanks to the "friend"). My thoughts while watching it were "what the heck are they doing? How can our society take such backwards strides into its own depravity?! Do these people know what they are?" and I realise it is because I have already previously seen Funny Games - multiple times - and Kick Ass seems to obvliviously commit every sin that Haneke has been criticising all these years, not to mention other master film makers like Sergio Leone, Kubrick, Orson Welles, Scorcese and even Tarantino. These sins include - glorifying violence for the sake of being so bloody it loses any effect, which includes the act of drawing out the violence for an extremely long time, being unaware that the viewer is an accomplice to the acts of violence this is also a very sadistic thing to do. There is no build up to the violence, the violence doesn't happen in quick bursts. I figured it was universally known that violence in cinema is about an emotional response, therefore it must be over almost just as it started, so that the pain of the act lingers as we have to think about it. If the violence is drawn out then the effect is quickly drained and all we are left to think about is what kind of make-up job did the actor(s) have to get to make it look like they're so bruised and bloody. Kick Ass has its few moments of genuine shock value, but they amount to nothing if the rest of the film is just some escapist teenage high school drama. Its overuse of campy indie-music soundtrack and lazy voice-over narrative doesn't help the film either.
I propose a thought experiment. The premise is this: What would a comic-book superhero movie be like if it was made by Michael Haneke? Now there is already a superhero deconstructionist story in Watchmen, yet I think Zack Snyder's film also suffers from the same sins as Kick Ass; explicit on-screen gore, choreographed fight scenes, over-indulgence in music choices which only devalues the intensity of the story and the power of music itself. Watchmen was a good effort, I particularly loved the opening sequences, but it suffered from style-over-substance which could not keep up with how well written the graphic novel is. I propose a different kind of superhero movie, and this is it how it might turn out:
All of a sudden, brutal acts of violence are cropping up around the city against criminals, who are all usually killed in some horribly painful way and left with a note signed by the mysterious masked vigilante. There is one criminal who survives but is in a critical state and remains in hospital. The masked vigilante's identity is never revealed throughout the movie, but we have our suspicions on an ensemble of cast memebers who are effected by the events. Is it the nurse who watches over the hospitalised criminal (who also takes martial arts classes for necessary self defense)? Is it the police man (or woman?) who is working on the case to find the masked vigilante, and who is also trained in martial arts? Is it the journalist who is covering the story? The vigilante is covered in the media in negative bias, but we learn the public have a secret yearning for a "hero" and lap up all the sensationalisation in the news. After some brutal confrontation, the next note left by the "hero" is leeked to the newspapers and published in full. It says that the next criminal to be caught will face a public execution. Tensions rise in the air, but finally a gang of twenty or so criminals plan a mass escapade of crime. The hospitalised criminal eventually dies and his daughter is now orphaned, she starts taking martial arts classes and the first thing she is taught is that the art of fighting is to "fight without fighting". That night the large gang of criminals go on a spree and sure enough our "hero" shows up and displays an inhuman fighting power - twisting the words "fighting without fighting" to a dark interpretation being more like a one-sided slaughterfest. None of the violence is explicitly shown on screen which only makes it more visceral (except maybe an arm break). Naturally the music will only be diegetic, else none at all - long moments of stark silence to represent the tension of piling guilt. The next morning will reveal the shocking climax, all criminals in the gang are hanging by their necks in the area for all the public to witness in horror. Following this is a public outcry through the media leading to the politicians announcing a decree of vengeance against the "masked villian who has overstepped the line of vigilanteism". Finally, the costume is burned in small fire in the outskirts of the city, the shadowy stranger walks away in the night, never to be known. Oh yeah, and the children will cry at some point.