Matthew Vaughn ready to 'Kick-Ass'

Adaptation goes indie as violence spooks studios

Matthew Vaughn is moving ahead to direct "Kick-Ass," an adaptation of a comic by Mark Millar, with key pieces of the cast starting to fall into place.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse is in negotiations, while Chloe Moretz has been cast in the film, whose violent nature has forced Hollywood studios to pass on making it. Vaughn, however, is such a believer in the project that he raised the money for the $30 million indie project himself.

"Kick-Ass," written by Millar and drawn by John Romita Jr., follows a high school dweeb who attempts to reinvent himself as a real-world costumed superhero named Kick-Ass who seems doomed to failure because he's not athletic or coordinated until he runs into real bad guys with real weapons.

The comic is ultraviolent, with kids taking on adults of all stripes. Moretz's character, for example, is a ferocious, potty-mouthed 11-year-old who chops down crime thugs with a ninja sword. Mintz-Plasse will play the Red Mist, the angry teen son of a mobster who tries to uncover Kick-Ass' identity.

The main character, dweeb Dave Lizewski, has not yet been cast. Vaughn also is talking to several high-profile stars to play parents or mobsters.

Vaughn first brought the project to Sony, which distributed his "Layer Cake," but the studio balked at the violence, which he refused to tone down. Several other studios expressed interest but demanded that the protagonists' ages be upped. Vaughn, who most recently co-wrote and directed the international hit "Stardust," now is going it alone.

Vaughn wrote the adaptation with Jane Goldman and is producing with his Marv Films partner Kris Thykier. A fall start date is eyed.

The project will be a 180-degree turn for the actors involved.

Moretz is repped by Innovative Artists and 3 Arts, Mintz-Plasse is repped by UTA.