After a summer dominated by superheroes fighting evil and winning over audiences at the box office, "Kick-Ass 2" aims to show the violent underside of being a costumed vigilante.
"The sequel is set up to deal with the consequences," director Jeff Wadlow told Reuters.
"Kick-Ass 2," out in theaters on Friday, is based on Mark Millar's comic-book of the same name and follows the nerdy teenage boy Dave, played by British actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as he becomes real-life superhero Kick-Ass, along with his 15-year-old sidekick Hit Girl, played by Chloe Moretz.
"The superhero movement has spread and people were inspired by Kick-Ass and I wanted to show all the different kinds of consequences these characters doing these things and how it ripples through their life," Wadlow said.
Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, also known as Mindy, dispensed with villainous drug lord Frank D'Amico in the first film and in "Kick-Ass 2," D'Amico's ruthless son Chris, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, wages revenge on the masked crusaders with his own team of super-villains.
The sequel, which is rated R like the original movie, has come under fire for its graphic violence and explicit language.
Jim Carrey, who plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, departed from Hollywood convention in June and criticized the film on Twitter. He said because of the December shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 people dead in Newtown, Connecticut, he could not "support that level of violence" in the movie.
"It was disconcerting, I'm not going to lie, to read those tweets," Wadlow said. "If you're going to do a movie and you're going to get paid all that money, you should at least have the good manners to phone up your collaborators and discuss whatever points of view you might have or might be changing that will affect your press obligations."
'INTIMATE STYLE OF VIOLENCE'
Wadlow said "I trusted my gut" when he made decisions on which violent scenes to include in the film, and that he also wanted to portray a more realistic side of the violence.
Mintz-Plasse said in an interview with Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM earlier this week that a rape scene and a scene in which a dog is killed were both omitted from the final edit.
"I know for a fact that the movie is less violent than the first movie," Wadlow said. "It's a much more intimate style of violence, more about hand-to-hand, which was by choice, because the movie's about the superheroes movement spreading so I wanted to show how normal people fight."
"Kick-Ass 2" follows Mindy as she tries to put aside her Hit Girl persona and embrace life as an average high-school teenager, while Dave tries to find purpose by joining a band of amateur masked vigilantes led by ex-soldier Colonel Stars and Stripes.
"The first film was about them figuring out superhero identities," Wadlow said. "This movie should be about figuring out their real identities."
The film comes on the heels of a summer dominated by superheroes, such as "Iron Man 3" which opened with $174 million in domestic theaters in its opening weekend and has crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide.
"Kick-Ass 2," produced by Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures and independently financed with a budget of $28 million, is not expected to match its superhero counterparts at the box office, with moderate industry projections of $19.8 million in its first weekend. Its 2010 predecessor grossed $96 million globally.
Wadlow said he hoped the film stood out in the flurry of big-budget action films with its themes of responsibility and redemption, as the vigilantes consider the long-term effects of the violence caused by their campaign against criminals.
"We show consequences to the violence, unlike some of these PG-13 blood-less movies you see this summer ... We're dealing with those consequences in a somewhat realistic fashion, to both mine drama but also comedy," he said.