Person vs. Person conflicts (otherwise known as Character vs. Character) is a storytelling technique that pits two characters against each other, typically with opposing goals standing in the way of each other. This often comes in the form of a protagonist (or good guy) vs. the antagonist (or bad guy), but there are undoubtedly other forms of this conflict!
In this guide, we’ll detail the ten best examples of person vs. person conflict in films— from the classic martial arts film The Karate Kid to beloved Disney films like The Lion King; we’re sharing our favorite examples!
Questions We’ll Answer About Person vs. Person Conflict In Film:
- What Are The 10 Best Examples Of Person vs. Person Conflicts In Film?
Note: These films were selected for the ten best portrayals of different types of person vs. person conflict – not the 10 best movies overall! To showcase a substantial depth of person vs. person conflicts, we wanted to demonstrate all the unique ways to see this conflict come together.
What Are The 10 Best Examples Of Person vs. Person Conflicts In Film?
STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE
The first part of the original Star Wars trilogy is not only a classic film but a classic example of person vs. person conflict.
The film journeys alongside Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. We’re also well aware of the looming threat of Darth Vader throughout the film.
The person vs. person conflict comes from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader and the impending showdown between the two characters in the film’s first half.
Eventually, the two characters come face to face in a lightsaber battle in a classic example of person vs. person conflict as Obi-Wan Kenobi stands in the way of Darth Vader capturing Princess Leia. At the same time, Obi-Wan Kenobi knows Darth Vader must be stopped to save the galaxy.
THE DARK KNIGHT
The Dark Knight is considered one of the greatest films of its decade and is led by a spectacular performance from Heath Ledger and Christian Bale.
The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, is bent on destroying Gotham and tormenting some of its most well-known citizens like Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne along the way.
Standing in his way is of course Batman who wants nothing more than to protect Gotham and its people.
This is yet another example of two individuals with very different goals colliding in a person vs person conflict.
THE LION KING
The Lion King might be a children’s move, but it has one of the best Character vs. Character conflicts between Simba, King Mufasa and Scar, Simba’s uncle, wants to be king.
The first example we see of this conflict is when Scar plans an attack on Mufasa using Simba as a pawn to lure him into danger.
Once Mufasa becomes king, Simba must eventually take his father’s old place as king, but of course Scar will do whatever it takes to ensure this doesn’t happen.
We clearly see person vs person (or lion vs lion) conflict in this film twice – first with Scar needing to become king which pits him against Mufasa, and then later in the film when Simba must return as king, pitting him against Scar.
THE KARATE KID
The Karate Kid is a 1984 martial arts movie about Daniel La Russo (played by Ralph Macchio), an often bullied teenager who is trained by Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita) to face his bullies in a karate tournament.
The film is another straightforward example of character vs character as Daniel must come face to face with numerous adversaries during the karate tournament, some of which are much more insidious to Daniel than others.
Not only is the film a great example of character vs character conflict, it’s also one of the go to films to see mentor and student relationships in storytelling.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Adapted from Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, which tells the story of the founding of Facebook, The Social Network is loaded which character vs character conflict without any sort of violence or battle like the other films in this list.
The Social Network lands on our list because it’s a more dramatic example of how person vs person can play out.
In the film nearly a dozen different character vs character conflicts arise as we see the different goals and ambitions each character has for Facebook, as well as. accusations of fraud, deceptive business practics and more.
Unlike the other films on this list, The Social Network is also based on a true story so it adds a little more depth and realism to character vs character conflict.
The film won three Academy Awards and is an incredibly interesting story about all of the personalities behind Facebook.
Mean Girls is a teen comedy with the very typical, but often outrageous, character vs character conflict you’d expect to see in a movie about high school.
Character vs character conflict has a more comedic twist in this film as we see the film’s main character, Cady, force herself to fit in with the “popular girls” known as The Plastics around school.
Things take a turn for the worse when Regina, the lead of The Plastics, turns against Cady and we follow Cady in her attempt at revenge against Regina and all of the hilarity that ensues.
Often considered one of the greatest action movies ever made, and surrounded by an hotly debated Christmas movie controversy, Die Hard tells the story of how New York police detective John McClane who attempts to stop a terrorist takeover in a Los Angeles building.
The movie starts with John McClane setting out to reconcile with his estranged wife, the first and most low-key example of person vs person conflict you’ll see in the film.
Die Hard quickly takes a turn for the worst as terrorists invade the building in which John and his ex-wife are attending a Christmas party, and we see John take matters into his own hands.
You’ll see plenty of action in this film with tons of character vs character showdowns between John McClane and the terrorists who we learn are looking for something more than just ruining a Christmas party and taking over a building.
Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, we see an epic power struggle in Black Panther as a showcase of character vs character conflict.
The film follows T’Challa who is the Black Panther and heir to the kingdom of Wakanda.
His time as king is relatively short lived when an indvidual known as Killmonger journeys to Wakanda and, to the surprise of everyone, reveals he is also a Wakandan and T’Challa’s cousin. Killmonger wants to start opening Wakanda to the rest of the world and get rid of its isolationist policies but is also driven by more sinister motivations.
Their first encounter culminates with a showdown to become king of Wakanda and it’s just the first of many conflicts between the two characters.
Black Panther was a box office sensation and the first Marvel film to recieve an Academy Award nomination. It won Oscars for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.
Directed by Michael Mann, Heat is a crime drama featuring an ensemble cast led by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and supported by Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, and Tom Sizemore.
The film tells the conflict between a lieutenant and a thief—LAPD Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Pacino) who investigates a case involving professional thief Neil McCauley (De Niro) and his crew, who pull of a massive and bloody heist.
The film, shot in Los Angeles, is based on the true story of ex-con Neil McCauley.
Bridesmaids follows the story of Annie and the seemingly endless and hilarious misfortunes that occur before her best friend Lillian’s wedding.
At Lillian’s engagement party, Annie, who was asked to be the maid of honor, meets Lillian’s other bridesmaids which sparks jealously between the women’s lives and who is truly Lillian’s best friend.
While this sounds silly, it’s certainly an examble of character vs character conflict which plays out in a comedic way sparked by something as small as friendship.
Comedies don’t often find themselves in the Academy Award conversation, but Bridesmaids was nominated for two: Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.