When I decided to watch Kick Ass 2 in the cinema, I was more than excited, expecting to be enthralled by the likes of Hit Girl kicking Kick Ass’ ass at pretty much everything. In Kick Ass (1) Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) was awe-inspiring, not to mention one of the only superheroes with any actual skill. There was some debate about whether this was down to her father grooming her to kill from the age of five, which is undoubtedly twisted, and made Hit Girl a little bit less impressive. Nonetheless Hit Girl was one of the few heroines who could actually cope with the physically and mentally demanding job of an assassin.
But things change. Kick Ass 2 starts much the same as its prequel: Hit Girl is magnificently formidable and Kick Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) tags along. This is until Hit Girl’s guardian, Detective Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut), encourages her to make friends with some girls at school. She is dropped off at Brooke’s (Claudia Lee) house, A.K.A. Queen Bee’s lair, where she is antagonised on her appearance and her lack of kissing experience. Who knew that backpacks and disinterest in boys was such a crime? Hit Girl quickly retaliates with a crude and violent threat. But as the scene continues and the trio of stereotypically popular teenage girls put on a boy band music video, the resilient Hit Girl, who doesn’t need a male to swoop in and save the day, becomes sexually aroused.
The feminist heroine, Hit Girl, is reduced to little more than a fan-girl, who is not in control of her own sexuality. She asks, ‘ What the fuck was that?’ One girl replies, ‘I’m soaked’, and Queen Bee affirms ‘It’s biology, bitch’. My fellow watchers erupted with laughter.
The change in director from Matthew Vaughan, who directed Kick Ass, to Jeff Wadlow, is evident through the role of the female protagonists. Not only is Hit Girl made to seem powerless, but the newest female role, Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), is arguably only used as a pawn to motivate Kick Ass.
The message here is that women are only ostensibly powerful, and will always be reliant on and inferior to men. That you can try to man up and ‘take your tampon out’, but it is ‘biology, bitch’; HitGirl’s superhero identity is undermined by her assumed secondary role as the stereotypical teenage boy-band groupie.
What makes this abysmal message worse is that large portions of the audience are teenage girls, who will look up to the 15-year-old Hit Girl. And since it is doubtful many teenage girls will be superheroes, they will learn that the next best thing is pursuing boys and being bothered about your appearance. There is nothing wrong with being in touch with your sexuality, but the Union J cameo crushes the idea that teenage girls might care about something other than boys.
Without spoiling the ending, things do turn out okay, and Hit Girl’s fighting attitude is restored. But was the Union J cameo really necessary to further the plot, or just a commercial ploy, which in turn confuses Hit Girl’s character progression?