WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Girl in the Spider's Web, in theaters now.
Lisbeth Salander was introduced in 2011's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a social justice activist. She was a private investigator, garnering details on seedy men of power, before her own sexual abuse at the hands of her legal guardian, a lawyer named Nils, led her to exact revenge.
She went on to solve the disappearance of Henriette Vagner, thus beginning her life as a vigilante, specializing in women suffering trauma at the hands of men. Seven years later, The Girl in the Spider's Web doesn't just give us an evolved, and far more empowered, Lisbeth (Claire Foy), it actually delivers the best vigilante of 2018.
Lisbeth was shown in the first trailer helping a woman escape a violent husband, and we knew instantly how she was putting her hacking talents to use. The film's opening expands upon this, as we hear news broadcasts about Lisbeth winning public favor, praised across Europe after becoming a symbol of the night.
However, Lisbeth isn't just using her brains, but her brawn too. She's leveled up in terms of firearm training and hand-to-hand combat (heck, she's even an expert using tasers in battle), making her the equivalent of a super-spy. She's even rocking a black motorcycle, racing across frozen lakes, and escaping cops. She even steals a Lamborghini in a getaway scene that'd make fans of Jason Bourne or James Bond giddy. But apart from those flashy moments, Lisbeth's heroism is all substance.
She doesn't have the billions of Oliver Queen or the technology of S.T.A.R. Labs, like Barry Allen. She doesn't have superpowers, yet Lisbeth decides to fight the good fight, leaving her family's criminal dynasty behind to create meaningful change. That's not to say she doesn't have her own crew, a la the Arrowverse, as she does boast a computer expert named Plague, a journalist who digs up dirt for her, and the tools to take down terrorist cells (in a style that might be compared to The Matrix's Neo).
And make no mistake, she's earned the right to be called "The One," because she's risking life and limb, while going after evil corporations, militaries and governments. There's no job too big or too small, and her selfless nature is all too evident when she decides to save a kid, August, from the Spiders, who want to use his father's program, Firefall, for nuclear warfare. Lisbeth could have walked away and left it to the authorities, but she trusts no one to get the job done.
What's most impressive, though, is her early life, because after she ran away from her family, she started from scratch -- no money, no friends, no training; she's self-made in every sense of the word. Think of her as a Defender you'd expect to see in a Marvel Netflix drama, except she's patrolling the streets of Europe instead of New York City.
Even when her lover Mikael tells her she should get out the game, that she's in way over her head, the thought never crosses her mind. Despite her tough exterior, her heart is too big, and she can't leave justice to the corrupt cops and politicians. She knows the dark nature of mankind, and that's why she wants to become a one-woman army, perfectly summed up when she slickly hacks an airport to extract an NSA operative to aid in her crusade.
In short, Lisbeth isn't the best vigilante around because she wants to take down the patriarchy and make a statement for the #MeToo movement. Lisbeth is number one because she's been repeatedly, and horribly, mistreated, and robbed of family, just like those she wants to save. In her eyes, she's not a savior, she's a victim too, and that's what makes her a true, unique inspiration to everyone she's trying to help.
In theaters now, director Fede Álvarez's The Girl in the Spider's Web stars Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, Claes Bang, Christopher Convery, Synnøve Macody Lund and Vicky Krieps.