Emily Yoshida, writing for Vulture about the popular trend of “silent, violent little girls” that’s sweeping the nation (this piece contains minor plot details about Logan):
Laura and her ilk aren’t characters. And their age and increasing silence has become a handy crutch for writers who might otherwise have a harder time bringing female leads to life. (Look to the lackluster characterization of Stranger Things’ Nancy and Joyce for evidence of this.) So while the device aims for gee-whiz novelty — A little girl who can fight? Now I’ve seen everything! — it ends up being a part of a fusty and familiar trend in genre writing.
Despite countless critical calls for more and better-written women, many genre and action films still find they can get by with a single, one-dimensional woman. Again, that’s fine — it takes all types, though I’d personally like to see more of the other types. But the fact that that single one-dimensional woman is now just as likely to be a girl seems conspicuously regressive, like a joke about Hollywood ageism told with a dead-serious face and deafening BWOOOMMMs for punctuation.
It didn’t occur to me that characters like Laura might be a crutch, but Yoshida brings up some interesting points in her piece. I loved Logan and enjoyed Dafne Keen’s performance as Laura, but the fact that violent girls’ silence is becoming a recurring trope does start to feel less enigmatic and more lazy as time goes on.