After years of talk, Kick-Ass 2 finally made some real progress earlier this month as Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down) signed on to write and direct, and it’s now on track to shoot this year for a 2013 release date. At a Kapow! Comic Convention event, Wadlow spoke out about the sequel, even addressing the little matter of getting in-demand young star Chloë Grace Moretz back on board.

Hit the jump to read his comments and his status update on Moretz’ possible involvement — and while he gets that casting issue sorted out, check out some unused marketing materials from the first Kick-Ass film that could actually be cooler than the actual marketing materials that Lionsgate wound up using.

At Kapow! this past weekend, Wadlow told fans that he’d arrived in London “about a week ago” and was planning to stick around for “about a year” to do Kick-Ass 2. “It’s happening. Our first day of photography is in September,” he said. “It’s all moving forward. I wrote the script over the holidays.”

Wadlow then offered some clues as to the direction of the upcoming sequel, and how it’d differ from original author Mark Millar‘s own follow-up to the first volume of his Kick-Ass comic book:

It’s been an interesting process because for those of you who know the property really well, the movie takes some significant liberties with the first comic book. So then Mark did the sequel to the comic book which is Kick-Ass 2. So I had sort of this movie and the comic book and I had to find the intersection. An adaptation was quite a challenge, but one that I really enjoyed and loved. I think the most important thing that’s gonna change from the Kick-Ass 2 comic to Kick-Ass 2 the movie was just really finding an emotional story to tell. Because what I certainly loved about the first film, and what I think elevated it above most comic book adaptations, is the heart and the emotion in the film. It was sort of my challenge as the film maker and storyteller to find something as emotional in the second film and I think we have some stuff that people are gonna really respond to.

One of the biggest changes, Wadlow said, had to do with the story’s treatment of Moretz’ character Hit-Girl (spoilers follow):

If you’ve read the comic, you know, she gives up being Hit-Girl, which was a brilliant idea I thought on Mark’s part. It’s something I explore something quiet deeply in the movie because what happens in the comic is she sort of steps away from the story in many ways and she’s sort of sidelined while Dave is working with Justice Forever and Chris is becoming the Mother[frick]er. But I was quite interested in what happens to her when she’s not being Hit-Girl.

Probably a smart move on Wadlow’s part. Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) may have been the protagonist, but I found that it was the character of Hit-Girl who really stuck with me, and that it was her relationship with Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) that really gave the film its heart. Regardless of what happens in Millar’s comics, it’d be disappointing to see a Kick-Ass 2 movie with no room for Hit-Girl.

Of course, expanding Hit-Girl’s role in the film means trying to find a way to get Moretz to sign on, which is easier said than done. In the two years since the release of the first movie, Moretz’ star has only gotten bigger, and she’s already got a handful of projects lined up for her near future. That includes the Dennis Wilson biopic The Drummer, which shoots this summer — just before Moretz would be due to shoot Kick-Ass 2, if she were to sign on.

But happily, Wadlow says he’s already started discussing the role with Moretz, and that the star is very much interested. “Well, nothing is official yet. But I had breakfast with Chloë two weeks ago and she’s read the script and she’s very excited about what we’re doing with Hit-Girl,” he said. “Her story is a major, major part of the film and she’s excited about the ideas and we’re in talks.”

No doubt we’ll be hearing much more about that soon. In the meantime, as we wait for Kick-Ass 2 to get underway, take a gander at some unused marketing from the first Kick-Ass film. The idea behind it is pretty cool, but the execution leaves something to be desired. For one thing, whoever designed these seems to have forgotten to line up the characters’ eyes, so everyone but Kick-Ass himself just looks off. Like, really off, in the case of Big Daddy:

Clumsy Photoshop aside, though, the unused art actually looks more striking to me than the character sheets that Lionsgate actually did end up using — click here to refresh your memory. Which do you prefer?

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