If you’ve read any entertainment news outlet in the past six months, you’ll know three things: Glass Onion is out on Netflix on 23 December; Daniel Craig’s Southern sleuth is confirmed queer (but Craig himself doesn’t “want to make a song and dance about it”) and Edward Norton’s character is very probably, most likely, almost definitely based on Elon Musk.
The film stars Norton as Miles Bron (a brief, cursory name not unlike Ee-lon Muhsk), a billionaire tech bro CEO. Once a year, he invites his friends – a smug gaggle of people described as “disruptors” if only by themselves – for a lavish weekend away. These “disruptors” include a men’s rights activist and online celebrity Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and a racist model-turned-influencer (Kate Hudson). Bron has just become a multitrillionaire through his stake in Alpha, a tech giant. If you’re thinking, “Hey! That sounds really familiar” – you’re not alone.
If you haven’t seen the sequel for yourself, take literally everyone else’s word for it. Because while reviews remain undecided on whether the Knives Out franchise has lost its edge, one thing that everyone can agree on is that Norton’s Miles Bron looks and sounds an awful lot like another tech bro we’ve all come to know and… well. Take it from Bloomberg, who calls Bron a “thinly veiled Elon Musk”. The Boston Herald agrees, writing that the character’s “deep seam of douchiness” and “immense charisma” is “Elon Musk-like”, while The Guardian speaks of the role as a “loathsome Musk-ish plutocrat”. The Independent’s own Clarisse Loughrey says Bron is “a distinctly Elon Musk-esque” figure. So “basically, he’s Elon Musk,” chirps The Sydney Morning Herald.
But what everybody else appears to know, neither Norton nor Johnson are ready to admit – entirely at least. (It seems not everybody is as ready to reveal their inspirations as John Leguizamo, who recently told reporters that he based his smarmy, washed-up, has-been actor in The Menu on “horrible human” Steven Seagal.) In an interview with Deadline, Norton brushed off the comparisons. “My take on this was really to know that Miles is a character cut from a very specific species,” said the Fight Club star. But when asked at the London Film Festival if he “riffed” on anything in contemporary culture, Norton offered a knowing “yes” – delivering the answer like a punchline to a joke. The actor goes on to call himself a “blender”. The “smoothie of Miles” comprises three ingredients: “Shmaelon Husk, and Shmelizabeth Schmomes, and ScmadamSchneumann”. For those not fluent in Schmedward Schmorton speak, that’s Elon Musk, Elizabeth Holmes, and Adam Neumann.
Johnson likewise acknowledged “obvious, real-world analogs”. Instead of leaning into those people, though, the director said: “The instant I started thinking about any of them too specifically, it got so boring so quickly. And so, disconnecting him from that, and trying to build him as his own clownish character, became a challenge.” A challenge, it seems, proved ultimately insurmountable, if the reviews are anything to go by.
There is a reason why people are drawing the comparison to Musk as opposed to Holmes or Neumann. Perhaps it’s because the new Twitter CEO is at the top of timelines and the forefront of minds lately. Or it’s because Miles is cut from a particular cloth. “A very specific species," Norton called it. Maybe so specific, in fact, that despite what Norton himself said, it contains not three specimens but just the one.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is out in cinemas now and will be released on Netflix on 23 December