• Joseph Morganti

The Antagonists of FIGHT CLUB: An Analysis

The first rule of fight club is you don’t write a blog discussing the film’s antagonists and what makes them so special, right? All kidding aside, the 1999 film Fight Club took many film fanatics aback with its deranged yet entertaining plot about men gathering together in a bar’s basement to, well, fight.


Now, the antagonists of Fight Club have a much deeper role than what a traditional film presents. Sure, there is the character of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who is eventually presented as the villain. Still, soon after the big twist and self-realization of the Narrator (Edward Norton), it becomes a cluster of examining the antagonist of life.

Still from 'Fight Club'. Photo credit: IFC


The Negative Aspects Of Life


We’re introduced to Edward Norton’s character through a series of voice-overs and how he is unfulfilled by his job, possessions, and suffers from chronic insomnia. While attending numerous support groups for varying illnesses, the narrator discusses the various aspects of life that drags him down so badly.


This entire sequence occurs while the support groups range from eating disorders to people dying from cancer; aspects of life that are certainly on the sorrowful side. It’s an introduction that quite possibly, there isn’t necessarily a single entity representing the antagonist like the Joker does to Batman, but rather, life itself is the antagonist.


Who Determines What’s Wrong And Right?


A common theme of Fight Club discusses the balance between right and wrong. The narrator is someone who has played the typical notion of a life well. He has a decent job, a place filled with possessions, and doesn’t get in trouble. So what if he attends fake support groups? Is that really wrong if he needs the support?


The question of what’s right and wrong furthers once the Narrator and Tyle Durden meet. While outside of a bar, they fight each other just because. Although society may deem that fighting in any capacity is inappropriate, isn’t it okay if two friends consensually fight each other for fun? Whose to say otherwise?


The Notion Of Fitting In


Going back to the idea of the antagonism of life, it all comes back to the idea of fitting in. Even though the Narrator has played by the rules and done everything he’s supposed to do, he’s still suffering from chronic depression and needs to attend support groups that aren’t applicable to him in order to make himself feel better.


Take Tyler Durden’s character; he is the antithesis of fitting in. That appeal alone is what drags the Narrator to go and be friendly with him. Once the Narrator discovers his apartment exploded, that entire notion of fitting in completely changes after he moves in with Tyler and the two (or one) begin Fight Club.


The Character Of Tyler Durden


Tyler Durden is introduced initially as a soap salesman who has a knack for being outside of society. He isn’t a typical man who slowly walks around and hopes tomorrow will get better by abiding by the rules. No, he takes a look at what’s around him and lets the free flow of being free take hold.


Now obviously, we learn who Tyler Durden actually is: the Narrator who has been imagining Tyler Durden the entire time. Still, prior to even knowing Durden is the Narrator and Brad Pitt has been a figment of his imagination, Durden is presented as a side character that quickly turns into the primary antagonist next to the notion of living an everyday life.


The Character Of Marla Singer


Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) is a compelling character in the sense that it’s the first bit of conflict the Narrator experiences. While attending the various support groups, he and Singer clash heads once they realize the two of them have the same schtick going of faking ailments to attend support groups.


Although they eventually agree to split the support groups evenly, as an audience, Singer is introduced as the first potential piece of conflict along the way. Now, she and the Narrator eventually develop a love interest. Still, that love interest only occurred when the Narrator imagined Tyler Durden doing the act.


The Big Twist


Any movie junkie or film fanatic more than likely has a story about when they first experienced the twist in Fight Club. The Narrator actually is Tyler Durden; what a concept? As impossible of a task as it seems, it demonstrates the idea of internal conflict being the true antagonist of Tyler (the Narrator) wanting to step outside the box and leave his ordinary life.


Antagonists Aren’t Naturally Shown


It’s tasteful to analyze the antagonists of Fight Club since they’re not naturally shown. It’s not like a traditional film where there is a clear bad guy. Although there is a sense of that in the middle of the film, it completely changes once you realize the Narrator is Tyler Durden.