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Hanna Kicks Ass, As Do These Other Fine Ladies

Updated March 24, 2011

Hanna may be a teenage girl, but she’s also a take-no-prisoners assassin. The news is she’s not alone in popular culture.

Hanna, and the History of Kick Ass Heroines
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Queen Christina: A Solider for Peace
Wonder Woman to the Rescue
Gun Crazy: a Girl and a Gun
Bat Woman, and Equal Rights for Superheroes
Nancy Drew, the Case of the Girl Detective
Supergirl, a New Super Model
Modesty Blaise, the British Bum-kicker
Coffy: Kick Ass Goes Ghetto
Carrie: Telekinetic Kick Ass Power
Terminator’s Mom
Xena: The Reigning Warrior Princess
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chewing Gum and Kicking Ass at the Same Time
Lara Croft, From Game to Screen
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Kick Ass Poetry
Kill Bill: New Icons or Gender Stereotypes?
The Girl Who…Wanted to Shake Things Up
Hanna, A Creative Response
Hanna, and the History of Kick Ass Heroines

© Photo by Alex Bailey

Hanna, and the History of Kick Ass Heroines

In Joe Wright’s Hanna, the 16-year-old Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) plays a warrior heroine who has been trained as an assassin by her father Erik Heller (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA agent. From their off-the-grid home in the wilds of Finland, Erik sends Hanna out on assignment. She crosses Europe tangling with evil minions of CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). One need only see Hanna physically dismantle teams of CIA agents to recognize how far evolved her portrayal of a young woman is from the girlish gaiety of Esther Smith (Judy Garland) in “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944) or the irrepressible effervescence of Pollyanna Whittier (Hayley Mills) in “Pollyana” (1960). But Hanna Heller is not the first kick-ass girl in popular culture. Generations of sisters doing it for themselves have cleared the way for Hanna to appear.