A packed Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego was privy to world premiere footage from the highly-anticipated sequel to Matthew Vaughan's 2010's "Kick-Ass" -- director Jeff Wadlow's upcoming "Kick-Ass 2."
Many fans in the audience spent the night in line to see Wadlow, joined on stage by the creators of the comic, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., along with stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lindy Booth, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo. Chloë Grace Moretz also joined in on the discussion via satellite from a Boston film set.
The extended exclusive first-look trailer shown was edited down a bit for the Hall H audience, but it gave a fantastic glimpse at the two faces of a now very grown-up Hit-Girl, alternatively beating baddies and tackling catty peers in high school, Chris D'Amico's evolution into super-villain The Mother Fucker and Johnson's Kick-Ass banding together with Hit-Girl to hone his skills (complete with a full-circle homage to Moretz and Nicolas Cage's infamous bullet-proof vest scene). We're also given an introduction to the movie's band of protagonist misfits by way of Jim Carrey's camouflage-clad leader Colonel Stars and Stripes.
Shortly after the premiere footage, the red band trailer was posted online -- featuring even more butt-kicking, blood-spattered, potty-mouthed revelry.
Following up the wildly successful first installment is no small feat, but the franchise's new director was hand-picked by Vaughan. "I feel like I won the fan boy lottery," Wadlow gushed. The ultimate high praise came from Millar, who said, "[Vaughan] said to me, 'Trust me with Jeff' … and it's brilliant. I couldn't be more excited."
Kick-Ass himself, Taylor-Johnson, also sang Wadlow's praises. "I got a call from Matthew Vaughan saying, 'I've got someone really great who has a fantastic script,'" he said. "It was page-turning -- I was just cracking up laughing. It was emotional and he took these characters through a wild journey. It was really complex and brought these characters to a whole new level."
Mintz-Plasse admitted he was "really scared" to tackle the transition from Chris D'Amico to The Mother Fucker, calling it "intense." "I'm wearing, like, a gimp outfit in this movie," he exclaimed. But, despite the dark material, the film shies away from some of the comic book's more boundary-pushing themes. "There were some things in the comic book that we took out," said Mintz-Plasse. "Murdering a dog and raping somebody … I'm very glad I did not do either of those two things."
Moretz described the evolving identity (and duality) of Mindy Macready and Hit-Girl in the sequel, explaining that after her father's death she renounced a life of crime and enrolled in high school, where she eventually "realizes that whether it's a drug dealer on the streets and a murder or it's a bad girl at school who is hating on these poor kids, she has to bring justice to the situation." Eventually, Moretz, explained, "Mindy Macready and Hit-Girl are the same person -- there's an interesting arc that we built in."
Despite Big Daddy's untimely exit in the last film, Moretz assured the audience, "His presence in this movie is still very, very, very strong -- you really do feel that looming, God-like figure. She's always talking about her daddy, she's always referencing him."
In fact, the departure of Big Daddy added fuel to the bond between Macready and Kick-Ass alter-ego Dave Lizewski. "Her only friend in the world is Dave," she explained. "He comes to her because he wants to be trained by her and they really do form this amazing kind of bond because of what they've gone through together."
Mintz-Plasse and Taylor-Johnson also divulged they went through grueling hours of training and filming for their intense fight scenes together. Of their seminal match-up, Mintz-Plasse confronted Wadlow, "You made us do that fight scene probably 45 times!"
"I wasn't even filming half the time," Wadlow joked. "Aaron was really close to puking -- you were loving that!" retorted Mintz-Plasse, as Taylor-Johnson nodded and laughed. Growing serious, Wadlow said, "I've never worked with a pair that has such a great partnership -- the way they work together in those physical sequences is amazing."
Faison -- who plays Kick-Ass' partner in fighting crime, Doctor Gravity -- added, "We had a fight scene, Aaron and I, where we get to fight a bunch of people … we did it in 5 hours. I remember the next day I slept for about 24 hours and he went to work the next day and had to do more. The one-armed push up shit? That's real, dog."
Booth -- the film's sexy, seductive Night Bitch -- coquettishly chimed in, "Aaron and I have a whole different type of physical scene." We have a feeling that steamy kiss in the teaser was only the beginning.
When asked by a fan about the possibility of a third film, Wadlow said, "I've been so focused on this movie, I haven't even thought about it. We wanted to push these characters as far as we could in this film. I haven't even started thinking about what 'Kick-Ass 3' would be -- this isn't a rinse and repeat sequel… we put 'em through a meat grinder with this one."
"Kick-Ass 2" hits theaters August 16.