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Let me ask you something: Why don't people trust their instincts? They sense something is wrong, someone is walking too close behind them... You knew something was wrong, but you came back into the house. Did I force you, did I drag you in? No. All I had to do was offer you a drink. It's hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain, but, you know what? It is. And they always come willingly. And then they sit there. They know it's all over, just like you do, but somehow they still think they have a chance. Maybe if I say the right thing. Maybe if I'm polite. If I cry, if I beg. And when I see the hope draining from their face, like it is from yours right now, I can feel myself getting hard. You know, We're not that different, you and I. We both have urges. Satisfying mine requires more towels.
~ Martin Vanger.

Martin Vanger is the main antagonist of the novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as well as its 2009 and 2011 film adaptations.

In the 2009 film, he was portrayed by Peter Haber. In the 2011 film, he was portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård, who also played Terry Glass in The Glass House, King Cerdic in King Arthur, Jim Whitlock in Deep Blue Sea, and The Grand Duke in Cinderella.


Martin Vanger is the CEO of the Vanger Corporation, and the scion of the wealthy Vanger family. His father, Gottfried, sexually abused both Martin and his sister Harriet, and made Martin watch while he raped and murdered women. While he despised Gottfried as a "loud, garish man", Martin learned a great deal from him, and considered it his "duty" to satisfy his father's violent sexual urges.

Martin became a murderer himself at 16, killing a classmate named Lena Andersson. Soon after, Martin saw Harriet kill their father in self-defense, and threatened to expose her unless she gave in to his increasingly violent sexual demands. When Martin turned 18, his mother, Magda, sent him away to a boarding school, and Harriet thought she was finally safe - until she saw him at a local parade, having returned home for a visit. Terrified, Harriet fled Sweden and lived under another identity, and was considered legally deceased for the next 40 years.

Martin stalks, rapes, tortures and murders dozens of women throughout Sweden over the years, preying mostly on prostitutes. Unlike his more impulsive father, Martin is a careful, methodical killer who plans every detail of a murder in advance. He also keeps souvenirs of his murders, and writes down his fantasies of killing virtually every woman he meets.

When Martin's great-uncle Henrik hires reporter Mikael Blomkvist to solve the mystery of Harriet's disappearance, Martin befriends Blomkvist in order to throw him off track, and tries to scare him off by shooting at him and leaving a mutilated cat on his doorstep. Nevertheless, Blomkvist's assistant and lover Lisbeth Salander uncovers evidence linking Martin and Gottfried to several murders. Upon learning what Blomkvist and Salander have been doing, Martin invites Blomkvist to his house for a drink, and then takes him hostage in his homemade torture chamber in the basement. After bragging about his murders, he demands to know what happened to Harriet, but is angered when an incredulous Blomkvist replies, "You killed her." He replies that he couldn't have, as the parade traffic prevented him from getting to the Vanger family home until after Harriet had disappeared.

Just as Martin is about to kill Blomkvist, Salander appears and hits him in the face with a golf club, breaking his jaw. Martin flees in his car, with Salander in pursuit on her motorcycle. Martin drives into a fuel tanker and is trapped under it. The tanker then explodes, killing him.

Vanger's death.


  • Peter Haber said in an interview on Malou Efter Tio (a Swedish talk show) that an actor has to understand their character's motives and personality, but that he had a very hard time defending and understanding Vanger.