Sometimes combat gear is a SWAT uniform. Sometimes it is a black leather catsuit. But if you are Eliza Dushku, a tank top or a denim jacket will also do.
As Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Dushku played a Slayer who had had it rough and made a lot of bad choices. As Wikipedia points out, “With Faith, the writers explored the nature of power, and the boundaries and consequences of its use. They wanted to address the issue that, whether the creatures a Slayer kills are good or evil, she is still a professional killer. Co-executive producer Doug Petrie, and writer of Faith-centric episodes such as “Revelations” and “Bad Girls“, says one of the things he loves about the character is that Faith is not wrong in describing herself and Buffy as killers. He goes on to discuss a Slayer’s rights and responsibilities, and how Faith believes her contributions to society relieve her of any legal or moral responsibilities, a view which Buffy does not share.”
Like Natasha Romanov, Faith is a little broken to begin with and only gets worse with all the killing she does—and enjoys. The nice thing about the Buffy/Faith relationship is that we get to see that how you let the job affect you is a choice as much as it is about your environment and support system. So it is not that being a female badass necessarily comes out of brokenness.
In Dollhouse, Dushku played another sometime badass, the Doll/Operative Echo, a former eco-activist turned programmable person. Sometimes a thief, sometimes a hostage negotiator, sometimes a sex worker, the character eventually regains a sense of her original personality and works to take down the company that employs her, and by employ I mean “use.” And again, the pint-sized Dushku made it work.
“Faith (Buff the Vampire Slayer.” Wikipedia. 30 July 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.