The Social Network (2010) directed by David Fincher and starring Jesse Eisenberg. Justin Timberlake. and Andrew Garfield. tells the tale of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. The film scored high reviews and praise, including an extremely impressive 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
While on the surface the movie may sound like the journey Zuckerberg (played by Eisenberg) took from outcast college student at Harvard to becoming one of the world s richest men (the classic hero s journey told for thousands of years in thousands of different ways), The Social Network blurs the lines between hero and villain, leaving viewers unsure of who to root for.
The Social Network blurs the traditional hero-villain lines.
The characters most often considered to be the villains of the film, in my opinion, play second- and third-fiddle to the true villain.
Here are my picks for the real villain for The Social Network, ranked in Olympic-style bronze, silver, and gold in honor of the Winklevoss twins and their participation in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing:
Bronze Medal the team of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and Divya Narendra
Max Minghella and Armie Hammer playing Narenda and Tyler/Cameron Winklevoss (he played both for the movie through the use of CGI).
Taking the bronze medal is not a singular person, but the team of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played wonderfully by Armie Hammer ), who outwardly portray the traditional big, strong jock villain archetype seen in countless movies, and Divya Narenda, filling the role of lackey for the Winklevoss twins (less-than-affectionately referred to as the Winklevi by Zuckerberg).
While they may initially seem villainous due to their traditional movie archetypes, they only come away with a bronze medal because I actually wouldn t even consider them to be villains at all. In fact, I feel they are actually very sympathetic figures, which I will explain when discussing the film s gold medal-winning villain.
Don t worry guys you may have finished in 6th place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but at least you won a bronze medal here!
Silver Medal Sean Parker
Parker, played by Justin Timberlake, with Zuckerberg.
The silver medal goes to the person who I believe is also the least likable person in the film Sean Parker, who could not have been played better by Timberlake. I make the distinction between least likable and real villain because in this film I believe there is a clear difference.
Parker is portrayed as a cocky, paranoid man with a troubled past. He is also the founder of Napster, which changed the music industry for better or for worse (personal opinion it was for the better) before getting into serious legal issues over his creation.
Zuckerberg becomes obsessed with Parker and his ideas after their initial meetings, much to the dismay of Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield (who I consider to be the film s main hero if there was one).
They re all smiles here, but Timberlake s and Garfield s characters did not get along in the film.
While Parker is seen as a villain for his narcissistic attitude, his shady ulterior motives for becoming involved with The Facebook (fact he was the one who suggested dropping The from its original name), and for exacerbating the rift that formed between Zuckerberg and Saverin, I couldn t quite put him on top as the real villain in The Social Network .
Following his arrest for drug possession in the film, Parker is seen as a pathetic, sad person who could almost be seen as a victim of his past more so than as a real villain. To me, Parker comes off more as someone who never quite moved on from his teenage years, and seeks attention wherever he can find it and at whatever cost.
Now that we ve covered the Winklevi and Parker, that leaves only one person who could take the gold:
Gold Medal Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg the real villain in The Social Network. Also has a poor sense of fashion, but that s neither here nor there.
Taking the gold medal is Mark Zuckerberg, who I believe is the real villain in The Social Network. On numerous occasions throughout the film, Zuckerberg acts maliciously towards those who were close to him.
First, his girlfriend breaks up with him due in part to him being extremely socially awkward, and not getting it.
Zuckerberg s girlfriend couldn t put up with his very poor sense of humor and social awkwardness.
Afterwards, Zuckerberg writes very demeaning things about her online, and decides to create a website comparing the physical attractiveness of his Harvard classmates. While FaceSmash becomes wildly popular across campus (even crashing Harvard s system), he does so by objectifying women based on their looks.
As stated earlier, the Winklevoss twins seem to to play the role of villains. However, they are in fact victims of Zuckerberg s villainy. After inviting Zuckerberg to join their efforts to create HarvardConnect, he turns his back on them and steals many of their ideas that he ends up using to create Facebook. The Winklevoss twins reached out to Zuckerberg in a very professional and businesslike way, and Zuckerberg treats them in a very underhanded manner.
Zuckerberg upsets the Winklevoss twins and Narenda by stealing their ideas, leading to probably the best line of the whole film:
Despite his social awkwardness and idea thievery, what I think makes Zuckerberg the real villain of this film is his treatment of Saverin, his closest and pretty much only real friend. On multiple occasions, Zuckerberg takes every opportunity to take shots against Saverin, such as when Zuckerberg diminished Saverin s achievement of getting past the first couple rounds of recruiting for the exclusive Phoenix Club, saying it was because of diversity reasons (Saverin is Brazilian). He also may or may not have planted a story in Harvard s The Crimson newspaper about Saverin performing animal abuse on chickens that were in his care as part of the initiating process for the Phoenix Club.
Another pretty good line in the movie. Who tortures chickens?
Zuckerberg also made important business decisions for Facebook without Saverin s knowledge or approval even though he was Chief Financial Officer. Of all the things Zuckerberg did towards Saverin, the worst by far was allowing Sean Parker s team of investors to have Saverin sign off on legal documents that diluted his share of Facebook from 34% down to 0.03% basically removing him from Facebook s decision-making team.
Although it was Parker and his team of investors who created the document and had Saverin sign off on it, I believe Zuckerberg is the real villain for knowing ahead of time what was going to happen and not doing anything about it.
So who do you think was the real villain in The Social Network. Take the poll below and let me know!