When Stieg Larsson created his now iconic character, Lisbeth Salander, I wonder if he knew he was creating one of the great female superheroes of our time.
Where little boys have for generations looked up to Superman and James Bond, to Jason Bourne or Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker or Rambo, to the various heroic film characters portrayed by Bruce Willis, The Rock, Van Damme or Schwarzenegger—girls have been left with slim pickings.
There have, of course, been Sarah Connor and Princess Leia, but they each needed rescuing. And the recent Wonder Woman film, while great, still required our superhero to have god-like strength, to possess ethereal beauty, and be winsomely clad in a rather small outfit. But, Lisbeth Salander’s strength comes from more human and familiar places—her intellect and her anger with injustice.
Finally, through The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Lisbeth Salander gets to own the stage, kick ass and (through Claire Foy’s nuanced performance) present a multidimensional female who is fiercely intelligent and utterly fearless. This is the hero whose mission is to fight for the female victims of domestic violence, of male abuses of power, who has been longed for and now delivered.
She is the human embodiment of generations of female rage that has been simmering. She doesn’t fall into stereotypes as a hater of men; in fact, she’s rather close to and fond of quite a few. She’s just pure, unapologetic, woman. And, as the mother of two daughters, her message is one I want them to hear.
It says, fight back, stand up for what’s right, be true to who you are, and use your intelligence because it is the greatest gift and weapon you can possess.
Lisbeth Salander is going to deliver plenty of action and thrills to audiences far and wide, but to young and impressionable minds, she’s also going to carve a path for a new type of female hero—one that’s long, long overdue.
The film itself is a solid action offering. It’s sharply cut and beautifully shot, taking you on a fast-paced thrill ride. I know there will be some who will wish it was written and directed by a woman—and women rightly deserve many more opportunities to helm films—but I, for one, am optimistic that a man created this character, because the more men who can see women this way, the better the world will be.
And, hopefully, as many young men have donned their capes, or dreamed of being the sharp, suave secret agent, a new generation of younger women will grow up wanting to kick ass with their intelligence, be fearlessly themselves, and to perhaps even feel free enough to adorn their bodies with some serious ink, should that be how they wish to express who they are.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web opens in Australia on November 9. Thanks to Sony Pictures Australia, we had the chance to preview the film.