The following article contains plot spoilers for Glass Onion and Knives Out.
The highly anticipated sequel to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (2019), Glass Onion, has been released to great fanfare. With a limited one-week theatrical release over Thanksgiving, Glass Onion was finally available to the masses for streaming on Netflix on December 23. True to form, the story was full of class commentary, satirical observations of today’s culture, and a cathartic conclusion driven by the actions of a charismatic heroine.
Similar to its predecessor, Glass Onion teams up Benoit Blanc with a marginalized heroine motivated by their love for a family member. In Knives Out, Marta Cabrera believed herself to be accidentally responsible for Harlan Thrombey’s death. She wanted to get away with the ‘murder’ to protect her mother, an undocumented immigrant. Helen Brand, who is first introduced in disguise as her twin sister Andi, goes undercover to find her sister’s killer.
The story is set in 2020 with all of the COVID-accurate details of multiple characters wearing masks, working from home, and concerned about the ability to interact with others. But perhaps most timely of all… is the killer.
Rian Johnson wrote Glass Onion in 2020 and filmed it in 2021. However, the release could not have come at a more perfect time. The killer, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), is an eccentric billionaire with a penchant for stealing ideas from others. Furthermore, he is only able to stay hidden as the killer because Benoit Blanc was operating under the assumption that “Miles Bron is not an idiot.” Spoiler alert: Miles Bron is an idiot.
Why is this type of villain so timely? At the time of both the cinematic and Netflix releases, every Twitter user is talking about Elon Musk. The generationally wealthy tech oligarch purchased Twitter and made one bad decision after another ever since. Throughout his career, Elon Musk has falsely played into the idea that he founded or invented Tesla. In reality, all he did was to become a large investor. Miles Bron’s primary murder victim is Andi Brand. Andi was the primary founder of a tech start-up called Alpha. She is shown sketching the idea on a napkin at a bar called the Glass Onion. Miles killed her when she threatened to expose the truth – that she was the one who had the original idea for the company despite his very public claims to the contrary.
Duke (Dave Bautista) is the secondary murder victim. He is only killed to cover up the first murder. Earlier in their collective history, the group of core characters were friends. However, they all turned against Andi to stay on Miles Bron’s payroll. Though Glass Onion stands on its own, the anti-capitalist commentary rings loudly across both Benoit Blanc murder-mysteries.
Although many draw comparisons between Miles Bron’s total idiocy with Elon Musk’s complete mishandling of Twitter, it is clear that Rian Johnson didn’t directly model Bron after Musk. Johnson has stated in interviews that the character is modeled after a broader archetype and not just one specific billionaire. One direct example is shown below.
This image of Miles Bron is shown in Glass Onion. It is a direct recreation of a well-known photo of billionaire scammer Elizabeth Holmes (of the Theranos company). Holmes was infamously exposed as peddling a fraudulent blood-testing device. The photo being recreated showed Holmes holding a small vial of blood. Despite being completely unqualified in the relevant scientific fields for the device she was attempting to get developed for Theranos, she was able to garner significant investments and powerful allies before being caught and put on trial.
The manner in which Miles Bron ousts his business partner Andi from their company, Alpha, bears a resemblance to another evil billionaire. Mark Zuckerberg screwed over Eduardo Saverin after they created Facebook together. Zuckerberg diluted Saverin’s stakes in the company and cut him from the company. As such, Miles Bron is a perfect villain to resonate with a modern audience.
For more of my thoughts on Glass Onion, check out my first video review of it here:
You can also watch me discuss the character archetypes across both Knives Out and Glass Onion here:
And finally, you can watch my 4-part video essay doing a deep dive into Knives Out here: