Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass series is said to have come to an end. The third installment to the movie series is in the works, and will be coming to a theater near you (possibly; Kick-Ass 2 didn’t do so well). The comic series might have a fifth installment that revolves around Mindy/Hit Girl, but regardless, Millar has made clear that the series has ended and that any further additions would be prequels. This month’s release is really the end of the story. So that’s that, but if you still need your fix on a similar, Kick-Ass-style story you might do well to take a look beyond the comic world.
Millar’s Kick-Ass series has stood out. For the new comic readers it drew into our world it seemed fresh and appealing, but for that small group of people, like myself, who have been following a growing trend for a while, I was sort of outraged. He never mentions or gives credit to the inspiration of the series: the real-life superheroes.
Yes, there is actually people doing exactly what the characters in the series are doing, and Millar knew that very well. The fact that he never mentions them or attempts to connect his readership to the actual project is somewhat scary. He borrowed so much from their actual life that you’d think he’d written a loose biography of them. But nonetheless I followed the series and enjoyed the books very much.
The series was a look into what had already been occurring in the real world for years. Superheroes, a documentary released in 2011, can be seen on Netflix. The people whose lives are captured in the documentary have many similarities to the heroes of the Kick-Ass franchise—some of which are too close for comfort, and which may be the reason Millar hasn’t mentioned it too much.
In the documentary you meet a wide variety of masked crime fighters, one named Mr. Extreme, who has been fighting crime in the streets of San Diego since 2001. Team Justice is the “the first official tax-exempt, non-profit organization in the RLSH community to date,” according to their Facebook page, and has been around since 2009. Master Legend, the superhero who started Team Justice, had been in the business of crime fighting years before launching the team. There are many more, but the examples of both Mr. Extreme and Master Legend predate the Kick-Ass series, which began its irregular publication in May 2008.
To add fuel to the fire, in the second movie installment of Kick-Ass you see a character who fans of the documentary will find familiar—a real-life superhero by the name of Zimmer, who is gay and doesn’t wear a mask because it’s too much “like being back in the closet.” Besides the Zimmer character, there is also Kick-Ass 2 #3 which clearly shows what the real-life superhero lifestyle is like. Millar has Kick-Ass explain that it isn’t all about kicking crime in the butt, but that “sometimes it was as simple as taking blankets to the homeless or volunteering at the local hospice… leafleting for missing persons or even just donating blood from time to time”. Then there is a character who walks drunk girls home to keep them safe. This is the sort of stuff that the real superheroes continually participate in.
In the documentary you see them stopping people from drunk driving, and flyers being passed out and posted all around to stop a sexual predator who is attacking women. Zeta Man and many other real-life superheroes, like Life, are seen working with the homeless, creating gift bags with all that might be needed by someone on the streets, and then there is the actual crime fighting.
The series was good, but only because it imitated life. If you enjoyed the Kick-Ass series, fear not: the story’s not over. The premise of the series is alive and well with all the superhero teams around the US and the few that have sprang up as individual crime fighters in other parts of the world. If you haven’t looked into Superheroes, please do so. You’d be surprised how many people have suited up and are fighting crime and helping the people. You’d be surprised to see all the police repression that they face all the time. You’d also be surprised to see all the community support they get for the work they do. If you love the world of Kick-Ass, you’re going to love the stories of these brave folks.
An earlier version of this article referred to the documentary Superheroes by an incorrect title. We apologize for any confusion.