SAN FRANCISCO — He once possessed a $1.68 million comic book collection considered among the finest in the world. He has a 4-year-old son Kal-El, named after Superman. His own stage name was taken from the character Luke Cage. He had been linked to film portrayals of everyone from Superman to Green Goblin before finally becoming Ghost Rider.
So, yeah, you could say Nicolas Cage likes comic books.
Now, the veteran superstar is returning to the genre with "Kick-Ass," in a role that has him dressing up in an all-black outfit with a cowl and yellow utility belt. Cage sees it as an homage to a too-often marginalized comics legend.
"When Damon is in his Big Daddy mode, that uniform is like his homage to Batman — not 'The Dark Knight,' but older, Adam West-style," Cage explained of his character, a mild-mannered ex-cop named Damon Macready who has secretly trained himself and his daughter to be powerful vigilante heroes along the lines of Batman. "Yeah, a little bit [of my performance] was the homage."
Much like Christian Bale's portrayal of Bruce Wayne, Cage's Macready feels the need to disguise his voice while in uniform, fighting crime alongside aspiring heroes Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). Rather than a rasp, however, Damon chooses to mimic the voice of West in the campy '60s show.
"Adam West would have been the Batman that he grew up with," Cage reasoned of Macready's West-ian dramatic pauses and over-the-top line readings. "And that would be the Batman that would help him get the job done."
Admittedly, Cage's Adam West impersonation will likely get a few laughs from those young enough to not remember West from "Batman" but instead voicing mentally questionable Mayor West on "Family Guy." But in a movie that seeks to exist in that sweet spot between humor and hero worship, Cage nevertheless thinks Big Daddy's homage to the Bat is spot-on.
"Comic books, to me, are almost like Jungian archetypes for the modern age," he explained, referencing Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who explored the psyche using the worlds of art and mythology. "[It's the same] way Greek myths were in ancient Greece. And so, there are people who go out like paramedics and cops, and they wear a Superman T-shirt underneath their uniform [because they hope to be like him]."
And although he's never met Adam West, Cage said there would be no higher compliment than to get word from the 81-year-old legend with the message that he approved.
"I would like to meet [West]," Cage said of his fellow do-gooder. "I hope he would [like my homage to him]. I hope he would like that, yeah."
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