Glass Onion: Peeling back the layers of a Narcissistic Billionaire


Glass Onion official poster. Photo courtesy Netflix

Katelyn Burton, Copy Editor

In addition to being the mind-bending sequel to the 2019 film Knives Out, Glass Onion can also be viewed as a clever criticism of the wealthy upper-class disguised as an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery. 

The main antagonist, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), is a billionaire who is co-founder of a multi-million dollar technology company. The company discovered a type of alternative energy and, backed by Miles, planned to release it to the public without the proper testing and safety precautions.  

The film shows how Miles will do just about anything to protect his wealth and- by extension- his reputation, going as far as to commit murder. When the film begins, the audience thinks that Miles is this smart man who invented puzzle boxes and orchestrated an elaborate murder mystery game on his own when really, he paid off people to do these things for him and barely gave them any recognition for the work that they did.  

“Americans have a very instinctual thing of mistaking wealth for competence or intelligence,” Rian Johnson, the director of both Knives Out and Glass Onion, said.  

Throughout the film, Miles said non-existent words that no one questions until the very end, reinforcing Johnson’s point of rich people taking advantage of their confidence and wealth to get away with sounding/looking smart.  

His private island is extravagant and unnecessary. He owns several frivolous objects such as Paul McCartney’s guitar, glass statues, a fancy car, and even the Mona Lisa that he borrowed from the Louvre.  

Glass Onion also paints familiar social caricatures into the film, Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) is a narcissistic influencer, Claire Dabella (Kathryn Hahn) resembles a performative politician, and Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) mirrors men’s rights podcasters. These people claim to be Miles’ friends, but they clearly only benefit from his money and fame instead of seeking a real friendship with him. Miles, in turn, sees them more as objects he uses for his own benefit as well. 

At the end of the movie, Helen Brand (Janelle Monáe) provides a satisfying ending by shattering all of Miles’ frivolous glass statues and using his untested energy source to set the entire glass onion and everything inside on fire, the Mona Lisa included.