From script to screen: Is Kick-Ass the most faithful comics adaptation ever?

In anticipation of watching Kick-Ass earlier this week, I downloaded the first three issues of the comic onto my iPad. I’ve always been a fan of John Romita Jr. and his artwork does not disappoint in the glorious digital format offered over at ComiXology. Writer and co-creator Mark Millar does a fine job updating the Peter Parker-inspired nerd for the 21st Century.

The title character Dave Lizewski takes his comic book fantasies a bit too seriously and his lunacy is amplified by our celebrity-obsessed culture equipped with cel phone cameras, YouTube and MySpace (MySpace, you say? Yeah, I know it should have been Facebook or Twitter, but it’s close enough).

So armed with enough background information I watched the movie Tuesday and was amazed to find that the film tracked the first three comics I had read almost shot for shot. Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn are given screen credit for the script, but they made precious few changes to the source material and in many instances quoted it verbatim. (I also hope that all involved sent a big fat check to Spider-Man co-creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko).

After thoroughly enjoying the film, I went back and read the remaining five issues in the mini-series. The filmmakers did make some significant changes to the source material in the last act, but the revisions either amp up the action or provide some additional dramatic tension to the proceedings. I won’t discuss those changes in detail because I know a lot of you still haven’t seen either. Go see and read Kick-Ass this weekend, you won’t be disappointed!

If you’re into the filmmaking process, it’s a lot of fun to compare the two side by side and admire just how effectively Romita and Milar crafted and paced the original and how wisely Goldman and Vaughn chose when to stray from the source. Hopefully Hollywood big-shots with dreams of inserting robot dogs or cloud-shaped villains will take note and stay away.

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