Spike Lee’s films communicate through an emotional, empathetic connection established by his adept classification of complex characters. Lee recognizes that for the viewer to ultimately connect with the protagonist, the film must present this character with all of their conflicting motivations and occasionally uncomfortable characteristics. In many biographical films, the protagonist is depicted as a sort of virtuous specimen whom the audience should revere and automatically consider morally superior. With Malcolm X, Lee deconstructs these thematic undertones that are prevalent within historical biopics whose protagonists never struggle with internal contradictions or conflicts. With his unflinching and deliberate characterization of a controversial figure, Lee utilizes a more panoramic approach to explore the intricacies of the protagonist’s life from his childhood beginnings as Malcolm Little to his untimely death as the revolutionary Malcolm X. Through Lee’s sympathetic, revealing lens, the complexity of this important figure’s life is presented to the viewer with all defenses consciously broken down.