Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hanna & X-23: A Full Comparison

If you haven't seen Hanna yet, you may want to turn away now. Since it has finally left theaters, and the DVD release is still unknown, I thought I'd go ahead with this comparison piece. Spoilers ahoy! Since this is a comparison piece there will be many spoilers between the two if you haven't read the origin minis of X-23, or seen the movie Hanna.

Hush.  You were warned about spoilers.

Originally I was going to wait for the movie to hit DVD, and let this piece go forward on that date, but let's be honest here. I'm an impatient asshole at times. So on with the show!

How they are the same:

Fields of Snow - It's used in both as to where they are trained, and raised. A reflection of the innate cold needed to train children as weapons, as well as a stark contrast of colors that convey innocence and monster in one fell swoop. Whether it's the animal Hanna kills in the beginning or Laura's Mother X-23 killed at the end of Innocence Lost, the contrast of blood on snow in the midst of chaos works well for both.

Parental Unit Teaching - X-23 and Hanna are both taught things by their respective parents. Hanna's father teaches her from a book by a fire, and X-23 was taught the art of war and read Pinnochio from her mother.

Training - Both were taught multiple languages, cover stories, and combat techniques. This includes all manners of subterfuge, and usage of terrain.

Purpose - Hanna and X-23 were both raised with a purpose.

Free Will - Both were taught how to freely adapt to a mission or scenario to attain a set goal. Essentially both were taught "adapt or die."

Awareness of Surroundings - Both were taught to hear, see, and use their surroundings to their advantage or to accomplish a goal.

Genetics - Both have a geneticly manipulated background.

Family Dynamics - Both observe how families act before making their presence known. Both try to protect said families.

Clothing - Both were taught how to use any outfit on hand. Both also have a moment of 'closet raiding' so to speak from their respective families to fit into everyday life.

Life - Hanna is exposed to life through the daughter of the family she's with, including dancing, and music. X-23 was also exposed to life through the daughter of the family she's with, which includes clubs and music.

The Confidant - Both end up trusting the daughter in the family to which they've been observing. They tell their respective confidants some of their history to which got them to where they are, and about the bad people out to retrieve them. Both Hanna and X-23 are given a charm of sorts of remembrance.

Fathers - Hanna's father is an unstoppable ex-CIA operative. X-23's father is an unstoppable former government operative.

Spirituality - Neither were ever taught about spirituality in any sense of their respective regimes.

Sacrifice - Both have to sacrifice being with the families they meet in order to protect them. In both, the confidant witnesses what the protagonist is capable of.

Birth - Both were born in research facilities.

How they are different:

Schooling - Hanna was taught everything by her ex-CIA father, whereas X-23 learned everything from authorities on each subject, constantly monitored by psychologists.

Affection - Hanna was raised with constant affection from her father, as well as happy pictures of her mother. X-23 was only given sparse moments of affection from her sensei who she killed, and her mother, who she also killed. Hanna had human contact and comforts, whereas X-23 was never allowed true human contact or comforts. The sparse moments X-23 did have, she was told not to do that by her mother in fear of being caught by guards for showing Laura kindness.

Training - Hanna was trained by her ex-CIA father with compassion, love, and support. X-23 was trained through strict regimes, and anyone who disobeyed by showing her compassion or kindness was killed. Usually by her forced hand. X-23 was also taught every way possible to kill her targets, that runs the gambit of toxins, pressure points, and much much more.

Treatment of Animals - Hanna was raised on how to hunt for survival and use every part of the animal she killed and not be wasteful. X-23 was raised by the Facility with killing animals as test subjects to prove how much of a killer she was, including their usage of torture to incite a reactionary berserker response to a smell for things she otherwise would refuse to kill. (Her sensei, her mother, and the puppy her mother gave her all being test subjects, or usages of it.) Hanna also adores the dogs they keep for the dog sled, feeds and pets them. The only dog X-23 was given, she was forced to kill later in life.

Where they were raised - Hanna was raised in the wilderness by her father. X-23 was raised in a cold sterile facility. Hanna had books and photos to reflect upon at will. X-23 had an empty white room that was was initially kept at a high temperature to accelerate growth through duress. Until X-23's powers were activated at least. At which point she was kept in the same sterile room, but there is no mention or need of such temperature manipulation.

Purpose - Hanna's purpose was to exact revenge on her father's CIA handler, and X-23's purpose was to be an unstoppable assassin for any mission or situation.

'Graduation' - Hanna was able to choose and prove her choice was correct about when she was ready to take on her purpose. X-23 was given her first mission when those who 'owned' her felt she was ready and wanted to make a profit on their investment.

Technology - X-23 was taught all manners of technology and how to evade and or use them to her advantage. Hanna having lived in the wild is alien to much of technology outside of weapons. She gets great joy and excitement from seeing a plane for the first time, and doesn't know what a tracking device is that her father brings out after she proves she's ready for her mission. Hanna's father did teach her about cameras and other devices without any on hand to show her. She does recognize cameras and other things such as planes and cars from photos, though she has never experienced them herself until the events of her mission. This includes even simple things like light switches too as she was raised in an off the grid cabin in the middle of the woods. Even tv is alien to her and amazing. The movie covers all manners of exposure to everyday things.

Sounds of the World - Hanna takes great joy in all the subtleties of life. The sound of planes, cars, and music being the most obvious. X-23 has experienced all these in her training and missions. How she feels about them has never been discussed, but for tv and music it could be assumed they were considered distractions she should not indulge in(as living in a modern world and lab would mean she was regularly exposed to normal technology and sounds).

Sense of Self - X-23 was denied any form of sense of self. Hanna was allowed to speak freely with her father, smile, laugh, and even tell him things like she wished he'd add white lies to some of history to allow for a happy ending. Early space flight tests for example, and how animals were just left in space to die.

Free Will - Hanna was allowed to make her own choices. When she was ready for her mission, whether she'd hunt with her father or not. X-23 was only allowed to make choices during missions and what best suited the mission at hand to keep her from failing. This granted X-23 some creativity with adaptability during missions, but the limitations after the fact were always strongly in place.

Genetics - X-23 shares a genetic link to Wolverine, as well as her mother in the quest to create the perfect weapon. Hanna was born through a program that manipulated embryos to make them naturally stronger, faster, smarter and more resilient. Different means to reach albeit similiar but different ends.

Fate of their Mothers - Hanna loses her biological mother as a baby at the hands of the CIA. X-23 kills her own biological mother because of manipulation by the Facility.

Birth Certificates - Hanna has one that she's never seen, but she knows her birthday. X-23 has seven, all fake. X-23's real date of birth is unknown even to herself, but may be in a file about her somewhere that survived the facility explosion.

Modern Society - X-23 was taught all manners of cultural identity, vocabulary, vernacular, and even about gender identities and how different people can be so that she could handle any mission or situation. This was something Hanna's father overlooked, having been in the wild with his daughter since 1994 or so.

Exposure to Family Dynamics - Hanna inadvertantly meets the family early on and befriends them before she starts observing them. She may have been raised by her father, but she never experienced what a real 'normal' family was like in all its glory until she went forth on her mission. X-23 was exposed to a real family unit through her Aunt and Cousin when she went on the run from the Facility after her mother's death. Hanna uses the family she meets as the means to an end secretly, but along the way learns a lot about them and cares about them. X-23 on the other hand after an initial observation period makes her presence known and allows herself to be included into a family. A family she knows of from a previous mission that wasn't allowed to formally meet except for her cousin briefly at a young age which has caused the cousin's memories to be repressed. The family X-23 joins is dysfunctional and she inadvertantly brings the family back together. The family Hanna observes is a happy one, albeit eccentric.

Vehicles - X-23 was taught how to drive and use any vehicle. Hanna has learned about them, but never been exposed to them until her mission.

Life - X-23 was exposed to rollercoasters, shopping, pet stores, and theaters where you actually watch the movie instead of your target. Hanna was exposed to boys and dating. Where X-23 is learning how to just be a normal girl, Hanna is learning how much the world has to offer for a normal teenage girl not living in the wild to experience. Different focuses of the same aspects. X-23 on just what normal girls do like shopping, friendship, having fun, and what family means, whereas Hanna experiences things normal teenage girls do like dating and the awkwardness of dealing with your first date and crush.

The Confidant - Hanna's confidant she's not related to, and kisses. As seen in the Target X miniseries, X-23's is her cousin and obviously does not have the same connotations or suggestive questions associated that Hanna's does.

Fathers - Hanna was raised and trained by her father. X-23 didn't meet her biological father until she attempted to kill him of her own accord.

Spirituality - Hanna is confronted with the aspect of spirituality during her journey. X-23 doesn't even have the notion brought up in her origin minis. Thankfully it is finally being approached in the current ongoing thanks to Marjorie Liu. Not that it's a bad thing X-23's origin doesn't cover it. With everything else in the minis, I'm not sure it could have fit anyway.

Crisis of Conscience - Hanna's father had to free the child he felt responsible for as he couldn't take the experiments anymore and atrocities they were committing in the pursuit of the perfect soldiers and how they would raise this baby. So he fled with Hanna before they could. X-23's mother came to the same conclusion albeit after they had already spent over a decade making her daughter a weapon in the program. Both girls created for their respective programs, but Hanna wasn't raised within it. X-23 was, and did many missions for them before her mother realized the error of her ways. An error shown to her by X-23 when she refused to kill a child of her own free will.

Sacrifice - Hanna is witnessed killing a man who is trying to retrieve her by her confidant. Which in turn freaks her new friend out. X-23 had related all her history to Megan beforehand, so Megan isn't freaked out about it, but helps X-23 maintain composure when the time comes. Megan, X-23's confidant, finds it extremely cool.

Other Experiments - There are 22 attempts that failed to produce a viable embryo for Laura Kinney/X-23. There were 20 other children and mother's besides Hanna and her mother. They were all killed while Hanna was 2 when the project was scrapped. Hanna escaped this mass murder as a 2 year-old thanks to her father's intervention. X-23's project was moved forward and she was raised within it.

Fairy Tales - Hanna tends to bounce around on the fairy tale front, going from old story to old story including little red riding hood, sleeping beauty, Hansel and Gretel, among many others that relate except for Pinnochio as Hanna was always raised as a real girl.  X-23's story only focuses on the Pinnochio relation as Laura was never raised like a real girl and it's what her mother wishes she could be.


While both of these share many aspects down to even focusing on a female antagonist, they both go different directions with the same idea. Where Hanna was raised with Love, X-23's tale is borderline devoid of it. Where Hanna decides she doesn't want to kill anymore and is tired of it all, X-23 doesn't even think about it. It is what it is to X-23. While many will draw comparisons to these two rightfully so, they are two different stories of the same initial concept of genetic manipulation. They take different paths though they intertwine in many of the same areas needed to convey such a story. They use different aspects of the same text book notions and psychology with different results. While they are both tales of girls discovering life outside of what they've known, they also carry different undertones. Hanna always thought of herself as a real girl and child, whereas X-23 was raised to be a weapon and escapes to become a real girl. Both of these aspects lead the protagonist to experience life out in the world, but their histories reflect how they cope and handle the real world differently.

For the forseeable future, Hanna will be the closest to an X-23 feature we may get. Which is not a bad thing. In spite of their differences, and it pains me to say this, Hanna is written better than X-23's origin tale. The usage of imagery and symbolism throughout is amazingly above and beyond. From the usage of decrepit dinosaurs, swans, the symbolic entering the belly of the beast, to even graphiti of a certain raven haired girl, and fairy tales. This movie carries within it massive Oscar potential. That's before even getting into the masterfully done camera work, eye for detail the director has, and immensely powerful acting from Bana(Hanna's Father) and Ronan(Hanna).

That's not to say X-23's story couldn't either though. The origin story only needs a few minor tweaks to reach on par with this story, while it remains different with the aspects it already is different in. The only thing that was truly hampering Hanna at the box office was brand recognition. As amazing as it is, it didn't have the draw of being tied to a license that many adore outright as the X-Men franchise does. It was a brand new IP, which tends to not always do well at box offices, but then booms on the dvd front as word of mouth spreads. Hanna will easily go down in history as a masterpiece and a cult-classic. One can only hope such justice is done to X-23's origin to keep the audiences from crying foul that they've seen this story before. As X-23's tale is different enough to exist alongside Hanna within the scifi genre with minimal source material changes(mostly just minor added dialogue in spots to magnify the audience emotional response). One can only hope that Fox isn't allergic to money and decides to take such action for release on Oct. 23, 2013 ( the year of X-23's ten year anniversary, a date that reflects her name, plus it's a Wednesday). A move with the right cast that could break the box office wide open during a time no one would expect it, and could give us the first real Marvel Oscar contender if handled right like Hanna was.

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