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The Tao of Nicolas Cage: Big Daddy is Here to ‘Kick-Ass’ and Take Names

Cage returns to his beloved superhero genre once more and this time he brings a wicked Adam West impression to the table.
By  · Published on October 6th, 2017

Cage returns to his beloved superhero genre once more and this time he brings a wicked Adam West impression to the table.

“Oh, child…you always knock me for a loop!”

When Kick-Ass was released back in 2010 I went into it not knowing what to expect but thrilled to be seeing Nicolas Cage because I’m always thrilled to see Nicolas Cage. I remember that first screening vividly because it was back when I still regularly attended press screenings and it was the only time I took my friend Dino. Once the end credits rolled, Dino and I walked out of that theater and both agreed that what we had just seen was awesome. In fact, as part of a panel review I did for Trashwire I wrote, “If I had to choose one word to sum up how I felt about this movie I’d go with awesome.”

So yeah, back when Kick-Ass was first released I loved it. That love wasn’t everlasting, however. At some point within that first year after the film was released my opinion begin to sour on it and I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t very good. I still loved the Nicolas Cage portion because I never abandon Cage but I didn’t really care for the movie as a whole. You know what’s great about movies though? Your opinion on them can fluctuate over the years. And mine has multiple times over the years with Kick-Ass.

These days I find myself happily residing in the camp that finds Kick-Ass to be a fun, enjoyable film despite its flaws. I’ve grown to respect Matthew Vaugh as a director much more. He has a flair for action that cannot go unappreciated. Even when Kick-Ass struggles it never fails to be visually appealing.

My one constant throughout all my Kick-Ass flip-flopping has been my love for Cage’s performance. Cage plays Damon Macready, a former cop that takes on the alter ego of Big Daddy. In his quest to bring notorious crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) to justice he trains his 11-year-old daughter Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz) to be his sidekick and she becomes Hit-Girl. Together the duo spends their evenings ridding the city of crime. You know, typically father-daughter stuff.

Cage’s take on the character is wonderful. He gives the role his best Adam West take and it couldn’t be more perfect, especially since Big Daddy’s costume is basically a Batman knockoff. The best part about Cage’s choice to do Adam West is that he didn’t tell anybody beforehand. Neither Vaughn or any of the cast knew what Cage was going to do until he did it.

“It was totally his idea. and I didn’t know it was coming,” Vaughn said at the time. “The first day around, he started in with that and I’m thinking, ‘This guy can’t act!’ What the hell is happening? I started freaking out. And after about 30 seconds, the panic in my brain calmed down, and I realized exactly what he was doing.”

Choosing to have this take on a character is a pretty big deal. Adam West’s portrayal of Batman was so unique and to those unfamiliar with what West was doing that type of performance tends to come off as unintentionally wooden. That’s what makes Cage taking this route without telling anyone so Cagian. He wanted to knock everyone for a loop.

So why Adam West as opposed to say, Michael Keaton or Christian Bale? Because of Big Daddy’s age of course.

“Adam West would’ve been the Batman that he grew up with,” Cage told MTV News. “That would be the Batman that would help him get the job done.”

What’s great about Cage’s performance is that it’s so much more than just a hilarious homage to West. The father-daughter relationship between Damon and Mindy operates as the heart of the film. That may sound absurd giving all the controversy surrounding Hit-Girl but it’s absolutely true. There is a sweet and endearing quality to their relationship that I think is largely due to the charm and charisma both Cage and Mortez bring to their respective roles.

It certainly helps that for the film Big Daddy’s backstory received a facelift. In the movie, he has a legit reason to want to bring down D’Amico. In the comics, he’s just a deranged accountant that gets bored.

Roger Ebert hated Kick-Ass and was disgusted by the violence associated with Hit-Girl. Even still he wrote in his review, “I reflected that possibly only Nic Cage could seem to shoot a small girl point-blank and make it, well, funny.”

The scene Ebert is referring to sees Damon trying to prepare Mindy for being shot. Well the only way to truly prepare her is to actually shoot her. Mindy is understandably scared and asks if it’ll hurt to which Damon responds it will but only for a second.

“You’re gonna be fine, baby doll,” Damon shouts to Mindy before firing a bullet and hitting her squarely in the chest.

I understand how terrible that sounds and on the surface it still kind of is but for these characters in this world this is like a father teaching his little girl how to ride a bike. And when you look at it that way, isn’t it kind of sweet?

I don’t know if my opinion on Kick-Ass will ever change again in the future. I tend to think not because I’ve been set on this most recent opinion for some time now but I can’t control these things so who knows. What I do know is that I’ll never stop loving that Cage performance.

Cage in 4K?

Earlier this week Lionsgate released Kick-Ass on UHD 4K Blu-ray. This is a historic occasion because to the best of my knowledge this marks Nicolas Cage’s 4K debut. This wouldn’t have been my first option for the Cage’s first 4K release but as I stated earlier Vaughn is a visually impressive filmmaker so this actually a pretty nice debut 4K offering. The film looks gorgeous in ultra high definition with the Kick-Ass world coming to life and popping off the screen. While the precious Blu-ray release from Lionsgate was good, this 4K offering does provide a bit of more detail and clarity. If you’re 4K capable and a fan of the movie you should absolutely get this.

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Chris Coffel is a contributor at Film School Rejects. He’s a connoisseur of Christmas horror, a Nic Cage fanatic, and bad at Rocket League. He can be found on Twitter here: @Chris_Coffel. (He/Him)