“Just dolls with guns” is how Hanna writer David Farr describes a lot of the female-led action we’ve see on our screens lately.
His show takes a different approach to the genre.
A spin-off of the 2011 movie of the same name – which he also wrote – the series about teenage girls who are highly trained killers is back for a second season on Prime Video.
The titular character, played by Esme Creed-Miles, dresses for the forest she lives in. Wearing thick woolly jumpers and heavy boots, she’s a far cry from the overtly sexy and inappropriately dressed female action stereotype.
The theatre director told Sky News’s Backstage podcast that while the success of the Prime Video show suggests there is an audience for less sexualised female action heroes, there is still a way to go.
“I still think men need a bit of educating, I still think men are more comfortable watching men,” Farr said.
“And there was, for me, a false dawn after Hanna the movie, there was a slight false dawn where a bunch of cinema films came out with women as the lead and they were violent and skilled with guns, but they were just so fetishised that they were basically not really proper women.”
“They were just dolls with guns, and that really frustrated me because I felt like Hanna, in a way, had sort of created a space and then it had been slightly b********ed.”
Farr describes his show as being “more psychologically truthful”.
“I think it’s such rich terrain because hopefully the characters are very real,” he explained.
“And so that you hopefully are able to reach both female audiences who want to see women honestly presented but in ways that are just not traditional – someone’s sister, someone’s mother, someone’s lover – but also a male audience who can accept a properly fully-fledged female action heroine rather than a fetishised cartoon character.”
Esme Creed-Miles believes it’s covering new ground with the way the characters are presented.
“I think that there’s always been an appetite for female-led action with the caveat that the females in the action are sex symbols,” she said.
“Hanna is not that, you know, she’s very much a human being in her own right, and she isn’t objectified.”
“And I think that’s the difference, and I think that’s what’s really special about the show.”
Creed-Miles told the Backstage podcast it was really gratifying when the second season was announced.
“It was really wonderful, you know, when you work so hard on something, it’s a great feeling when that work is affirmed and well received.”
And added she felt entirely comfortable returning to the character.
“You know, when you’ve been working on something for eight months, you have a strong sense of what you’re doing,” she said.
“And it just becomes like a second skin, really.”
The second series of Hanna is out on Prime Video now.
Hear more from the interview and a review of the film on this week’s episode of Backstage – Sky News’s entertainment podcast.