Why The CIA Is After The 16-Year-Old Protagonist Of Amazon Prime's Hanna

Photo: Courtesy of Amazon.
Warning: Hanna spoilers follow.
Until the day it all falls apart, 16-year-old Hanna Heller (Esme Cree Miles), the titular character in the Amazon Prime show Hanna, leads a predictable, if strange, life. She wakes up each day in an isolated cave in Poland where she lives with her ex-CIA operative father, Erik (Altered Carbon's Joel Kinnaman). She ventures outside to hunt deer, shoot targets, and fend off sneak attacks from her father. She speaks multiple languages fluently. She recites her intricate backstory in case she and her father ever get separated.
While pop culture would lead us to believe that all teenage girls are vicious, none are potentially more so than Hanna. Since she could walk, Erik has trained his daughter to survive — because when the CIA eventually catches up to her, she'll need those skills. Hanna may have a killer's instinct, but she has no idea why the CIA would be pursuing her.
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Hanna's identity is one of the central mysteries in both the eight-episode TV series, which drops in its entirety on Amazon Prime on March 29, and the 2011 film. While the two take different approaches to David Farr's original script, this remains consistent: Erik keeps Hanna ignorant of certain facts of her existence.
Luckily, we know a bit more about Hanna than Hanna does. Unlike the movie, which plunges right into 16-year-old Hanna's daily life, Hanna the Amazon Prime show opens with a sequence that answers the lingering question: How the heck did Hanna get into this situation?
Open, flashback: Erik is working for Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), a CIA operative in charge of a mysterious experiment. Disobeying his boss, Erik breaks into the government facility and steals an infant. He and his wife, Joanna, intend to live off the grid with the baby girl, but they never make it. While they're driving their beat-up Audi to the forest, the CIA catches up with them. Helicopter gunfire causes Erik to crash the car. Joanna dies, but he and the baby escape.
And so, her training begins. As Erik knows, the CIA will always be after Hanna – she's living proof of one of their darkest turns. Hanna, you see, is not a normal child. She's genetically modified to be stronger and faster than other humans. She's a super-soldier.
But in Erik and Joanna's eyes, she was just a baby girl. Erik fell in love with Joanna, Hanna's surrogate mother (he's not Hanna's biological father). When they saw the infant Hanna, they saw a child who deserves a life off the battlefield. However, after Joanna died, Erik failed to fulfill their mission.
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Sure, Erik rescues Hanna from the facility and whatever fate Marissa planned. But, instead of allowing Hanna to be a normal kid, he trains her to be an assassin. Essentially, he relies on the very DNA modifications that he found abhorrent.
As for Hanna? She'll spend the entirety of the Amazon Prime series running up against the reality that she is different. For one, she was raised in a highly unusual manner. Regular society is a parade of newness, which she watches with open-eyed wonder.
But she's also stronger, smarter, and faster than everyone else she meets. She may be out of the forest, but she'll remain isolated in her superiority.
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