Rian Johnson Addresses Speculation “Glass Onion”‘s Tech Mogul Is Supposed to Be Elon Musk

Rian Johnson Addresses Speculation “Glass Onion”‘s Tech Mogul Is Supposed to Be Elon Musk

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022). Edward Norton as Miles. Cr. John Wilson/Netflix © 2022.

In “Glass Onion,” the thrilling sequel to 2019’s “Knives Out,” Edward Norton plays Miles Bron, a tech billionaire who invites all his successful, slightly sycophantic friends to an island in Greece for a fun getaway. Miles is extremely wealthy and full of out-of-the-box ideas; we learn when we meet his employee Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) that some of his recent concepts include “Uber for biospheres,” “AI in dogs = discourse,” and “child = NFT.” “Genius always looks like insanity at first,” Lionel tells worried investors, and it’s obvious the whole group, if not the whole world, believe this about Miles. His company Alpha, we learn, owns many others, including Alpha Cosmos, Alpha Car, Alpha Shop.

For anyone paying attention to the news, Miles might sound a little familiar. He might sound a lot like Elon Musk. And at the end of “Glass Onion” (*spoiler alert*), master detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) reveals Miles isn’t a tech genius at all; he’s just built his name on the backs of others, which is a common critique of Musk, too.

Writer and director Rian Johnson has reflected on whether Miles is actually based on Musk, and the answer is a bit complicated. Talking to Wired in a Dec. 23 interview, he explained, “There’s a lot of general stuff about that sort of species of tech billionaire that went directly into it.” Musk was an inspiration, but not the inspiration. But Johnson admitted it’s strange to have created this movie well before Musk acquired Twitter but release it when he’s in the middle of the zeitgeist.

“It’s so weird. It’s very bizarre. I hope there isn’t some secret marketing department at Netflix that’s funding this Twitter takeover,” Johnson said. In the same interview, he explained, “A friend of mine said, ‘Man, that feels like it was written this afternoon.’ And that’s just sort of a horrible, horrible accident, you know?”

Johnson told Shondaland on Dec. 20 that he specifically stayed away from basing Miles on just one particular person. “When I was writing it, I found out very quickly that it was very unuseful to think of any specific person,” he said. “In fact, it got very boring very quickly.”

He added: “The instant it became about making fun of one guy, it was not very fun at all. What is interesting to me is our relationship as a society to billionaires, and how we as Americans want to throw poop at them and call them idiots, but we also have that unhealthy instinct of mistaking wealth for competence — wanting them to be Willy Wonka, this wish fulfillment that they will solve everything, the ‘don’t bet against them; what if they’re right?’ That was more fun.”