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FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009


SAN DIEGO -- Matthew Vaughn's butterflies were noticable.

The director of the Kick-Ass movie -- adapting the Icon series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. -- unveiled five clips at a panel devoted to the movie at Comic-Con International on Saturday.

Vaughn was up front from the beginning of the panel, saying that a thumb's up or thumb's down from the audience could have a serious impact

Vaughn nervously struggled with his words in setting up the clips, all from the movie's first act. At one point, screenwriter Jane Goldman interjected to help him out.

By the fourth clip, in which Chloe Moretz's Hit-Girl slices her way through a group of baddies, many of the 4,500 or so attendees were on their feet cheering.

The positive reaction warmed the panel, which consisted of Vaughn, Goldman, actors Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Clark Duke, and comics creators Mark MIllar and John Romita Jr.

The clips, frequently hyper-violent and definitely edgy, included a conversation Aaron Johnson's Dave and his friend about super-heroes; Moretz's Molly (wearing a vest) being shot point-blank by her father (played by Nicolas Cage); Kick-Ass confronting a duo of thugs and getting stabbed; and then the crowd-please action sequence, in which Hit Girl comes in to save the day after Kick-Ass invades a criminal's place.

Also shown was a trailer, which incorporated shots from throughout the movie.

Following were highlights from the discussion:

* Vaughn said he hopes the movie will reach theaters early next year. "We're about 90 percent there," Vaughn said. "The thing we're taking our time with is the music."

Vaughn said three of "the biggest bands" are interested in contributing to the movie.

While hoping the panel will help with a distribution deal, Vaughn said the movie needs to retain its flavor with any studio. "Are they going to muck around with it?" he said. "I can say now, no."

* Millar said the process was very collaborative, noting that the movie script was finished before the comic was. He joked that he took the good bits from the movie script and put them into the comic.

* Romita said he is halfway through penciling the final issue of the mini-series. He said he enjoyed working on the animated sequence for the film, simply treating it as if it were the comic.

* Moetz said she trained extensively for her action scene, getting skills that she'll the rest of her life.

* Millar said he has alway envisioned Kick-Ass as a comics trilogy.

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