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Ten years ago, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass hit theaters. While its box office numbers performed under the studio’s expectations, it marked a seminal shift in the comic book genre that would later spawn R-rated movie franchises for Kingsman and Deadpool. It kick-started careers for Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz and featured the unforgettable Nicolas Cage role, Big Daddy. If Quentin Tarantino didn’t nab him for Inglourious Basterds, it could have been Brad Pitt under the cape and cowl.
The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood actor became a producer on Kick-Ass and was being eyed to play the comic book-obsessed father of Hit-Girl until the actor had the opportunity to star in the 2010 Best Picture nominee. But when Brad Pitt was no longer an option, Matthew Vaughn quickly found his Big Daddy in Nic Cage. In the words of the Kick-Ass writer/director:
I knew Nic loved comic books and superheroes, and this script was a love letter to superheroes. The film imagines what it would be like if the ultimate fanboy suddenly decided to play superhero, and some people mistakingly felt we were attacking the genre, but I knew Nic would buy in.
It does make you wonder… how would Kick-Ass have been different with Brad Pitt on board? Nicolas Cage was perfect as Damon Macready, but come on… Brad Pitt! At the same time, the actor has a valid excuse. Of course he wanted to work with Quentin Tarantino, and the collaboration would lead to his role as Cliff Booth in last year’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
There’s actually a ton of iconic movie roles Brad Pitt lost out on. He couldn’t play Jason Bourne in the Bourne films due to scheduling conflicts, he was in the running to play Neo in The Matrix, along with Patrick Bateman in Christian Bale’s early role in American Psycho and Leo DiCaprio’s Jack in Titanic. So Kick Ass shouldn’t feel alone here. He’s just been one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood since the ‘90s.
When discussing the ultra violent and dirty-mouthed Kick-Ass on its 10-year anniversary with The Hollywood Reporter, Matthew Vaughn talked about how the 2010 film was a passion project that he mortgaged his home to finance and initially had trouble getting studio backing from. Kick-Ass was made on a small $28 million budget and made $96.2 million worldwide.
It was pegged as a box office failure due to its superhero-ed flair but, as Vaughn points out, it was an unbranded superhero movie. Kick-Ass became a pop-culture staple and would lead Matthew Vaughn to delve into more comic book movies such as X-Men: First Class and the Kingsman movies. His next film The King’s Man hits theaters on September 18.