Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Now that the new season of House of Cards has been released, David Fincher might be leaving behind the cutthroat world of politics in favor of the cutthroat world of Silicon Valley (again), as the director is in talks to helm the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic based on the best-selling biography by Walter Isaacson. The film, which has a script written by one-time Fincher collaborator Aaron Sorkin, will chronicle Jobs' career at Apple through three "real time" scenes of major product launches, running at about a half hour each. If, by chance, this project sounds a bit familiar to you, that's probably because Fincher and Sorkin have already teamed up to make a movie about a technological giant, way back in 2010. It was called The Social Network. You might remember it; it was nominated for Best Picture.
"Okay, so they have the same creative team," you might be thinking, "so what? How similar could they actually be?" Shockingly similar, as it turns out. In fact, we've compiled all of the things that the two films have in common in order to give you a comprehensive look at all of the ways that this Steve Jobs biopic is, for all intents and purposes, The Social Network 2. Look on the bright side, though: at least it doesn't have very much in common with Jobs.
Both Films Will Focus on a Tech Guru...This film will, of course, follow the rise of Jobs, who co-founded the Apple computer company and became the face of the organization, while The Social Network, followed the rise of Mark Zuckerberg, who founded the social networking site Facebook, and became the face of the organization. You know, completely unique and original storylines.
Who Dropped Out of College...Unfortunately for frustrated high school students everywhere, Zuckerberg and Jobs dropped out of Harvard University and Reed College, respectively, in order to focus on what would become multi-billion dollar companies. And no, that line of reasoning still won't get your parents to stop bugging you about your grades.
And Created Products That Became a Pop Culture Phenomenon...When was the last time you actually purchased a CD instead of just buying it on iTunes? Be honest. Also, how many times would you have forgotten your friends' birthday if it weren't posted on Facebook? Seriously, be honest.
While Wearing a Signature UniformLuckily for Fincher's potential budget, a Jobs film will only require one outfit of its star — a black turtleneck and jeans — just like The Social Network only required Zuckerberg to wear the standard uniform of a hoodie and jeans.
Both Had Incredibly Volatile Personalities... Jobs fought with most of the staff at Apple, and employees were often scared that they would get fired at any moment, and the most iconic scene in The Social Network occurs when Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend for being a condescending tool. They were both total jerks, is what we're trying to say.
Which Resulted in the Dissolution of Partnerships... As Facebook became more popular and more profitable, the friendship between Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, Facebook's co-founder, fell apart, resulting in a heated court case. Meanwhile, Jobs' temper and erratic work schedule caused such a rift in his partnership with John Sculley that it resulted in an intense power struggle. And you though your boss was bad.
And a Founder Being Ousted from the CompanyAfter it was discovered that Jobs was attempting to instigate a coup and get Sculley fired, Apple's board of directors stripped Jobs of his duties, and he left the company. However, in the Facebook power struggle, it was Saverin who was kicked off the board after Zuckerberg and Sean Parker reduced his share without any warning. So, at least Fincher and Sorkin have that to differentiate the two films.
Both Were Accused of Stealing Someone's IdeasZuckerberg was sued by the Winklevoss Twins for allegedly stealing the concept for Facebook — which gave the world the immortal line, "If you were the inventor of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook" — and Jobs got his first job by taking credit for the version of Pong that Steve Wozniack built. We're looking forward to the Atari-equivalent line in this film.
Both Films Will Tell Their Story Using a Creative Framing DeviceThe Social Network bounced between not one, but two different lawsuit depositions and scenes from Zuckerberg's life, and Jobs' film will focus on the three biggest product launches of his career: the Mac, the NeXT computer, and the iPod. Because like their subjects, these biopics are innovators, looking to change the world without having to put on a suit.
Both Films Could Star Jesse Eisenberg (Sorry, Ashton Kutcher)The actor earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as Zuckerberg, and he could earn another one if Fincher and Sorkin decide to cast him as Jobs and he might as well make the most of the time before his hair grows back after Batman Vs. Superman. We're sure there's another part for Andrew Garfield or Justin Timberlake in there somewhere.
You may have heard critics and advertisers tout The Social Network David Fincher’s finger-pointing film about how Facebook was harvested from the halls of Harvard and turned into a billion dollar business as “the movie of the decade” or “a generation-defining film.” This kind of praise has led the entertainment journalism collective to liken it to true staples of cinema like Citizen Kane and The Graduate. In terms of relevance to its audience those are fair if overreaching statements. The film depicts its teenage characters with unflinching pragmatism as it weaves the nasty web of deception and betrayal that is the story of the social media juggernaut. In terms of its protagonist’s journey however I couldn’t help but compare it to another landmark film: 1974’s Death Wish.
Like Michael Winner’s divisive and controversial revenge flick the action in The Social Network as with so many stories kicks off when anti-hero Mark Zuckerberg loses the leading lady in his life. Luckily she’s not slaughtered by a pack of petty thugs but instead liberates herself from her pretentious and pessimistic beau in the crushing opening scene of the film which sets into motion a chain of events that will change his life – and the world.
Zuckerberg played with sardonic wit by rising star Jesse Eisenberg retreats to his Kirkland Hall haven seeking retribution (see where I’m going with this?). He gets drunk blogs unfavorably about his ex and creates a program that places female students’ headshots side by side so that inebriated undergrads can anonymously rate them. The site called Facemash accumulates so many hits that it crashes the University’s servers which gets the attention of the school’s cyber-security squad as well as a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. Twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer) well-to-do all-American future Olympians approach Zuckerberg with an opportunity to design a website that they’ve been quietly developing: a social network exclusive to Harvard students. Mark likes the idea but doesn’t want to be a part of it: he wants the whole thing. If greed is good then Zuckerberg (though not exactly financially motivated) is great.
The connections between Charles Bronson’s career defining film and Fincher’s soon-to-be-classic movie are of course hypothetical. My point is that like Paul Kersey Zuckerberg paints a target on his head with his vengeful actions as he breaks the rules of business ethics and leaves his mark on the world. Only after the storm has begun brewing does he realize that he’s in way over his head.
The Social Network is more a meditation on right vs. wrong than a chronicle of the birth of Facebook and it is a more affecting film because of that. The courtroom drama that ensues through Fincher’s two-hour masterpiece pulls no punches and asks the questions that we the audience are most curious about: Who really started Facebook? How much is the company worth? Fincher explores the historic and meteoric rise of this digital domain delicately building the tension organically as each chapter gives way to a new series of inquiries during the legal proceedings. Rather than provide a definitive answer he leaves the audience responsible for drawing its own conclusions.
Though it’s quite different from many of the grim stories Fincher’s told before The Social Network still conforms to the technical style that defines his work. The dank college dorms and dingy frat houses bring to mind the dreary environments of Panic Room and Fight Club especially in terms of lighting and color. Quick cuts convey the lightening fast pace in which we consume information in the digital age. The ominous music composed by Trent Reznor aids the auteur in expressing the enormity of the situation. Most noteworthy however is Aaron Sorkin’s stinging script which uses tech-speak legal lingo and slang to tell the tale of sex lies and limitless fortunes. He brilliantly combines multiple points of view (that of Zuckerberg his partner Eduardo Saverin and the Winklevosses) of the same events to bring his audience a well-rounded and unbiased account of the events that turned best friends into bitter enemies and bookworms into billionaires.
I believe that while it will certainly garner numerous award nominations come January The Social Network’s full impact will not be felt until the generation that it portrays can look back at it in retrospect. It is a very contemporary piece of thought provoking entertainment but we can’t assume that it defines who we are as a collective community because like Zuckerberg says of his digital society we don’t really know what it is yet.