Abigail Breslin and the New Generation of Female Action Heroes

Abigail Breslin may have come up as a precocious little girl in Little Miss Sunshine, and have honed that act in movies like No Reservations and Definitely, Maybe where she’s up against more experienced adult stars. But it’s exciting to hear that she’s moving into a new phase of her career by taking an action role, specifically in a movie called Final Girl where, according to Deadline, she gets to fight off a pack of feral teenage boys who want to use her in a weird initiation ritual.

It’s incredible and inspiring to me that there is a generation of teenage female actresses who are making their bones this way, whether it’s Chloe Grace Moretz playing vampire and superhero or Saorsie Ronan playing the result of an experiment in Hanna and a human hijacked by an alien in The Host. Growing up, I loved movies like The Babysitters’ Club, the Winona Ryder-anchored adaptation of Little Women, and Ten Things I Hate About You, but I know how hard I would have been cheering for girls who were allowed to be ferocious and strong instead of simply smart and creative. It’s not enough to have smart movies for and starring teenage girls if they’re all smart in the same way. Not everyone is a bookish budding feminist like Jo or Kat Stratford, and that’s absolutely fine.

And what’s particularly interesting to me about Breslin’s path is that she’s embodied all kinds of alternagirls. In Little Miss Sunshine, she’s defiantly weird, close to her grandfather, totally uninterested in the standards she’s supposed to meet. As Valentine Wiggin in Ender’s Game, she’ll get to be cerebral and loving. And as the Final Girl, further proof that Joss Whedon created our pop culture world and we all just live in it, she’ll get to fight. The idea that someone like Breslin could just keep going and not have to make a teenaged romantic comedy to continue working feels liberating, even though it’s entirely new. I’m all for letting a thousand Jodie Fosters bloom, and with Moretz, Ronan, and Breslin going strong, we might just get them.