When The Social Network hit theaters in 2010, there was nothing quite like it out there. It had David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin signed on as the perfect director/writer combo, taking on the life of Mark Zuckerberg — the mercurial and sometimes somewhat villainous founder of Facebook. It was the first biopic of its kind, showing us the underbelly of the usually polished and shiny tech industry. More than anything though, it demonstrated that the people who helped build Silicon Valley into the Florence of technology are far from the heroes they seem to be in public.
Sorkin is now back handling more Silicon Valley drama, given that he’s the writer on the upcoming Steve Jobs movie starring Michael Fassbender as the titular Apple founder. Taking over directorial duties for this project is Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), so needless to say it’ll be yet another tech biopic left in the hands of incredible talent. Of course, past efforts to tell the Steve Jobs story have included at least one dud, when Ashton Kutcher donned the trademarked black turtleneck in 2013’s Jobs.
This time around, it looks like Hollywood has learned its lesson about putting the Jobs story in the wrong hands. Between Boyle’s directorial skill and Sorkin’s experience writing on Bay Area tech moguls, Steve Jobs has a veritable dream team of creative minds at the helm. There’s, of course, much to be learned from past efforts. Most issues with Kutcher’s Jobs stemmed from the fact that many felt the movie barely scratched the surface of a complex story. Steve Jobs, the icon and Steve Jobs, the man are two wildly different people, and to pay lip service to the former without diving into the latter dooms any movie from the start.
On this full-length trailer, we can already see the touch of Sorkin’s experience. In The Social Network, we saw Mark Zuckerberg as a brilliant-yet-troubled entrepreneur, whose ideas were built on top of the dead bodies of similar concepts. In his rise to power and fortune, he seemingly climbed over a lot of people, ending up the subject of multiple lawsuits — although the movie surely dramatized the effect.
Similarly, the Steve Jobs trailer tells us the story of a fundamentally flawed man who thrived on trusting his own vision. Jobs never coded, yet became the head of a company that sold computers and software. He made hundreds of millions of dollars, yet denied paternity for years to his illegitimate child. For every great success in his career, there was a Faustian tradeoff that left a small piece of soul buried in his wake. He was a god to some and a villain to others, and any movie that seeks to tell the story of his life can’t lose sight of either of those sides of the Steve Jobs coin.
For now, we remain optimistic that Sorkin and Boyle have a solid handle on this tenuous balance. What we’ve seen so far gives us confidence that it’ll be far closer to The Social Network than Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs, something that will be key to its success come its release date later this year in October. As it is with anyone with star power like that of Jobs, the biopic game is certainly not for the faint of heart.
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