So the Kick-Ass DVD came out which means that it's time for me too finish my review. I've had more time to think and I've come to a conclusion. I like the movie better then I do the comic book.
You see, the comic book and movie take very different approached to the super-hero paradigm. The main point of the comic book seems to be that super-heroes are OK in fiction but if people suddenly started running around in costumes in the real world, it would have a deleterious effect on society. The movies attitude is more "Whoa! Superheroes! Awesome!"
This reduces a lot of the comics complexity but the result is that the characters in the film are much more likable.
For example, in the original comic, Kick-Ass is an unambiguous loser. A nerd whose crush on the girl of his dreams borders on the stalkerish, he goes out and fights crime largely as a cry for help. His motivation is primarily described as a combination of "loneliness and despair." Tellingly the movie changes this to "naivety and optimism." Unlike his comic book-counterpart, the film's Kick-Ass is genuinely motivated by a desire to help people.
Similarly, the movie's other super-heroes, Big Daddy and, his daughter, Hit-Girl are completely different. In the film, they are an ex-cop out to avenge the death of his wife and his homicidal twelve-year old daughter. In the comics, however, Big Daddy is actually a disgruntled accountant who has kidnapped his daughter and molded her into a killing machine in an effort to live out his super-hero fantasies. Changing Big Daddy into a competent hero doesn't enhance the movie but, in the end, it doesn't detract from it either. The character serves the same narrative function in the plot either way.
This function is, of course, giving the hero a reason to go up against the main villains, the Genovese crime family, and burgeoning super-villain, Red Mist. In the comic and film, Kick-Ass is inadvertently drawn into Big Daddy's war on crime, specifically the Genovese family. Indeed, it is the teenage mobster, John Genovese, who puts on a costume and poses as the super-hero, Red Mist, in order to lure the other's into a trap.
The intresting thing is that the Red Mist, is actually rendered more complex by his portrayal in the movie. In the original comic, he is an out-and-out bad guy who kills without any display of conscience. In the film however, he is a burgeoning nerd, desperate to impress his father and befriending Kick-Ass despite his better judgement. Indeed, at one point, he actually tries to get his father to spare the fallen hero. This adds an especially bitter twist to the relationship especially given that in the end, Kick-Ass ends up killing the Red Mist's father, setting up an arch enemy relationship between the two. After all, as Superman knows, there is no worse enemy than one that was once your freind.
All in all, the movie is the superior work for one reason. It give us characters we care about. In the comics, all of the characters are somewhat nasty. Even the heroes are terrible human beings. There, the action sequences serve to distract us from the fact that we don't have any empathy for the characters. In the film, we want the good guys to win and even feel a bit of sympathy for the bad guys. That, in my mind, gives the movie the edge.