Elon Musk’s eccentric and grandiose business ventures, like Tesla and SpaceX, have long drawn comparison to the over the top villains of the James Bond movies. His seemingly altruistic and benevolent motivations for these crazy ventures kept him in mostly in the public’s good graces. However, a recent string of bad press, including calling a British cave diver a “pedophile”, attacking journalists who are critical of him and, most recently, accusations that he tried to manipulate the stock price of Tesla, have heightened awareness that he may not be all that good. A transition to full blown Bond villain may not be that far away in which case it’s worth asking: If Elon Musk is a Bond villain, which one is he?
I looked at all 24 official James Bond movies and compared their baddies to the SpaceX and Tesla CEO to find the best fit. There were many contenders but only one winner. Read to the end to figure out which insane world domination scheme we’ll be facing at Elon Musk’s hands.
Dr. Julius No – Dr. No
Dr. No was the first on-screen foe James Bond ever faced way back in 1962 and on the surface has a lot in common with Musk. Dr. No’s evil plot involved disrupting the US space program from an island guarded by a dragon which turned out to be a flame throwing tractor. Yes, a tractor. With a flamethrower. We’ve come a long way since 1962.
As founder of SpaceX, Musk himself is seeking to disrupt the US space industry. Granted his “disruption” is to drastically reduce the costs of getting to space by designing, building and launching reusable rockets where Dr. No’s “disruption” involved shooting down rockets with nuclear powered radio beams. Undercutting existing aerospace companies or blowing up Mercury astronaut John Glenn – potato-potato disruption is disruption.
And lets not forget that flame throwing tractor. Musk sold 20,000 flamethrowers to raise money for his Boring Company. Strap one of those on a Tesla and you’ve got a much improved, and environmentally friendly flame throwing tractor. Well, environmentally friendly except for all that burning napalm. And while we’re on the subject we should mention that SpaceX’s crew capsule is named “Dragon”.
Involvement in the space industry and affinity for flamethrowers are where the similarities end. As previously mentioned Musk’s goal seems to be to GET people to space rather than stopping them and he also doesn’t have Dr. No’s trademark metal hands and good thing too. He’ll find his flesh and bone hands quite helpful should Sean Connery ever knock him into an open nuclear reactor.
Francisco Scaramanga – The Man With The Golden Gun
Scaramanga, the titular man with the golden gun is the world’s most deadly assassin and he’s out to get James Bond in one of the worst received Bond movies of the franchise. The plot also involves Scaramanga stealing the “Solex Agitator”, a critical component of a solar power station that will solve the 1970s energy crisis. Musk certainly has been involved with solar energy through the Tesla subsidiary Solar City – which installs solar panels and will soon be producing solar shingles, while Tesla batteries are solving an energy crisis in Australia by storing and regulating excess renewable electricity.
Where Scaramanga had it out for a British secret service agent, James Bond, Musk apparently has it out for the British cave diver, Vernon Unsworth, who insulted his submarine. Given that Scaramanga got shot by Roger Moore in a funhouse after challenging him to a duel and that Musk will probably be sued for calling Vernon Unsworth a pedophile both of them should learn to pick their battles.
That said, as a designer of both cars and rockets, Musk probably knows enough about metallurgy to know that a golden gun, with golden bullets is incredibly impractical, not to mention easily traceable. (Gee, I wonder who is responsible for assassinating this person with a golden bullet? Maybe the man with the golden gun? The perfectly inconspicuous, one of a kind, GOLDEN GUN?).
On top of that I haven’t heard anything about him having a third nipple – the mysterious Scaramanaga’s only known physical feature. You read that correctly. A third nipple is a major plot point in a James Bond movie. I am not making that up. Now go back to the top of this section and appreciate my use of the word “titular” to describe a villain with three nipples. You’re welcome.
Max Zorin – A View to a Kill
The main bad guy from A View to a Kill, Zorin’s scheme involved setting off explosives deep underground on the San Andreas fault triggering an earthquake. The flooding caused by the earthquake would submerge Silicon Valley and give Zorin a monopoly in the microchip industry. At least until someone else could, you know, rebuild a factory somewhere else. Oh and there is also a bunch of stuff in there about giving steroids to horses.
Listen, I could sit here and argue that Musk is digging tunnels deep underground with The Boring Company, or that he’s been involved with Silicon Valley with companies like Zip2 and PayPal but the real reason is that Max Zorin – played by the incomparable Christoper Walken- bears more than a striking resemblance to Musk.
Bleach his hair and throw him in some 1980s aviators and you wouldn’t know the difference. And if you’ve ever seen Musk at a press conference you’ll know that he speaks in a very stuttering, awkwardly paced and yet compelling manner somewhat reminiscent of Walken’s trademark cadence.
Add all that up and you have to admit the resemblance is good enough that, if Musk isn’t careful, could get him thrown off the Golden Gate Bridge by a geriatric Roger Moore.
Ernst Blofeld – You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesties Secret Service, Diamonds are Forever, SPECTRE
It’s almost cheating. Whereas all the other villains on this list had just one movie to prove their similarity, James Bond’s arch-nemesis has had multiple chances.
Blofeld is the mastermind behind SPECTRE (SPecail Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion – something tells me they came up with the acronym first and what it stood for second) the evil organization behind most of the early Bond plots.
Musk is no stranger to evil organizations, having donated to the re-election campaigns of climate change denying Republicans and sat on an advisory panel for President Donald Trump. In fairness Musk has contributed to both US political parties and resigned from Trump’s advisory panel to protest America leaving the Paris Agreement. Really the most you can accuse him of is playing both sides in a world filled with evil organizations.
As for similarities with Blofeld’s specific evil plots we start off strong: In You Only Live Twice Blofeld hijacks US and Soviet spacecraft in order to start a war. The scheme involved the vertical take off and landing or a rocket inside a hidden volcano base. An impressive feat for 1967 considering Elon Musk only accomplished this in 2015 with the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 though he lands his rockets back on land or on a barge which is nowhere as cool the inside of a volcano. Far from using this technology to hijack American space craft, the Falcon 9 is one of the space craft the US depends on to resupply the International Space Station.
In On Her Majesties Secret Service Blofeld aims to destroy the world’s agriculture using hypnotized super-models to distribute bacteriological warfare agents around the world. Musk has had romantic relationships with many beautiful and successful women such as English actress Talulah Riley, American actress Amber Heard and most recently Canadian musician Grimes. The “bacteriological warfare” thing falls a bit flat though. Maybe he didn’t complete the full schedule of antibiotics his doctor prescribed for a sinus infection? Leading to an increased risk of antibiotic resistant infections in the general population? Let’s move on.
In Diamonds are Forever Blofeld smuggles diamonds from Africa in order to build a diamond powered space laser. And uh, Musk is originally from South Africa -which is decidedly in Africa- and hey, space again so… Okay, the particular plots stop lining up. I’m not even going to get to SPECTRE which is just bad.
In the end Musk stacks up a bit short against the greatest Bond villain of all time. Sure both Musk and Blofeld have had dealings with shady organizations and are involved with space stuff from time to time but Blofeld has had too many crazy plots that don’t quite line up with what Musk is doing. Plus I’ve never seen Elon Musk petting a white cat. Oh wait. Never mind. Thanks Google.
Hugo Drax – Moonraker
Of all the space minded Bond villains this guy is the spaciest. Hugo Drax is the billionaire owner of Drax Industries which builds the Moonraker space shuttles for NASA and who plans on creating a new genetically perfect race of humans in space after wiping out the rest of humanity with nerve gas.
By comparison Musks’ stated goal of SpaceX is to turn humanity into an interplanetary species establishing a colony in space within the next 20 years. That’s Drax’s plan almost EXACTLY. I didn’t even have to fudge this one. Okay so maybe he is a little behind in the nerve-gas-induced-eugenics field but keep in mind Hugo Drax didn’t have an electric car company to run. We all have different hobbies and only so many hours in the day. Don’t let that distract you from the long list of other similarities:
1. Billionaire Industrialist? Check!
2. Builds space ships for NASA? Check. While Drax builds the Moonraker space shuttles, Musk builds the reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
3. Head of a company with “X” in it’s name? Check. SpaceX and Drax industries. Who doesn’t love a futuristic sounding “X”?
4. Exact same number of letters in both their first and last names? Check! Hugo Drax, Elon Musk. There’s probably even some anagram stuff with those names I’m too lazy to figure out.
It’s somewhat fitting that the worlds most ludicrously eccentric billionaires has the most in common with the villain from the most ludicrous James Bond movies. And while Elon Musk hasn’t gone full Bond villain yet, I think we can all agree that when he does he’ll nerve gas us all from orbit while hanging out with a metal-jawed side kick.
LeChiffe – Casino Royale
I can’t say Elon Musk looks like 1985 Christopher Walken while ignoring the even more striking resemblance between him and Mads Mikkelson who portrayed LeChiffe in Casino Royale. Honestly if you needed to cast someone for the role of evil Elon Musk and Mikkelson wasn’t available just shut down production. There would be no one better. Sadly LeChiffe’s plot to win a poker game to finance terrorism is a little too low stakes for a man who bet billions on reinventing both the automotive and aerospace industries.
Alec Trevelyan – Goldeneye
Alec Trevelyan, played by the perpetually killed-off Sean Bean, happens to be my favourite Bond villain from my personal favourite Bond movie. I could relate Trevelyan’s convoluted plan of stealing a helicopter, to steal a satellite, to steal money by hacking the Bank of England to Elon Musk’s involvement with online payment company PayPal but it would be a stretch. That said, if Pierce Brosnan ever drops Musk off the top of a satellite dish I’ll happily revisit the matter.
Karl Stromberg – The Spy Who Loved Me
Karl Stromberg from the Spy Who Loved Me deserves an honourable mention only because of Musk’s recent foray into the submarine business. While Stromberg hijacked nuclear submarines in order to start a nuclear war so he could start a new, perfect society under the ocean, Musk built a tiny submarine to try and save children from a flooded cave in Thailand- albeit while ignoring expert search and rescue cave divers who said it wouldn’t work and wasn’t needed. Really the only other thing they have in common is that Musk repurposed rocket parts to build his submarine while the producers later repurposed the entire plot of Spy Who Loved Me for Bond’s next film, Moonraker. They made two of the same movies, back to back but substituted space shuttles for submarines. They even reused the same henchmen. There I said it. Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker are the same movie. Finally, an excuse to get that one off my chest.