Do you know The Rise of the Supervillainous Tech Bro? A FEW YEARS AGO, the shorthand for identifying movie villains was their facial scars, evil smiles, and oddly high collars. However, in recent years, the shorthand has substantially changed. Today’s evil supervillains are characterized by turtlenecks and hoodies since the rich tech bro is more and more popular as the bad guy.
Consider the Oscar-nominated film Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery by Rian Johnson, which is focused on the homicidal CEO Miles Bron wearing a grey T-shirt (Edward Norton). Before being abruptly exposed as a fool, Bron is about to launch an alternate (and risky) hydrogen-based fuel. He has been compared by audiences to Elon Musk, the current millionaire boy.
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But that is the most obvious. The more evil of these supervillains remain undetected. Consider The Santa Clauses, the 1994-released serialized prequel to The Santa Clause movie franchise. The program, which made its Disney+ debut in November, opens with Santa (Tim Allen) announcing his retirement and seeking a replacement. He selects Simon Choksi, a tech developer and wants tobe Jeff Bezos (Kal Penn). Surprise, surprise, drone-based deliveries are ultimately not what Christmas is about, and before his daughter corrects him, the be-hooded Simon proves to be the bad kind of disruptive.
Rich IT CEOs have appeared more frequently as villains—or at the very least, antiheroes—ten years after the release of the Facebook origin narrative The Social Network in 2010. Eron Keen, creator of AI chips, was featured in Upgrade in 2018. (yes, really). In 2021, Free Guy had the narcissistic gaming CEO Antwan Hovachelik and Don’t Look Up had the turtlenecked phone developer Peter Isherwell. Before The Santa Clauses, the animated movie Ron’s Gone Wrong from 2021 starred tech executive Andrew Morris as a villain who was interested in “data-harvesting” (he actually says those words on screen).
But why is this occurring, and why now? The mad scientist has transformed into the mad disruptor. Movie villains have occasionally reflected societal anxieties. According to James Taylor, a University of Warwick film fellow, the mad scientist stereotype first appeared as a result of concerns about the atomic bomb. Taylor adds, however, that villains “feed into these worries, helping to create and propagate them,” rather than just reflecting our fears.
Lex Luthor, a foe of Superman, is the ideal illustration of this developing villainy. In the 1980s, the character changed from being a crazy scientist to becoming a CEO, and in the most recent cinematic adaptation, Jesse Eisenberg incorporated tech bro traits, according to Taylor. We may easily connect this to concerns about shifting cultural values. Since scientists are no longer associated with “new technology for destroying humanity,” As opposed to this, “in the current climate catastrophe, scientists are typically shown as noble figures struggling in vain to make callous CEOs and politicians acknowledge and reverse harm being done to the earth.”
In the meantime, all it takes is to open a newspaper to see tech titans in trouble. Elon Musk’s vehicles are colliding, Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of Theranos, is facing 11 years in jail for cheating investors, and Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, is being accused of pregnancy discrimination. It makes sense that literature is increasingly depicting these realities.
The writers of Ron’s Gone Wrong, Sarah Smith and Peter Baynham, admit that their worries about their own kids’ usage of technology served as the movie’s inspiration. The computer-animated comedy is about B-bots, robot pals for kids that use an algorithm to help them become friends. Bubble CEO Marc Wydell is intrigued when one of the B-bots, Ron, malfunctions, while executive Andrew Morris wants to destroy Ron and utilize the other bots to spy on children for financial gain.
Smith continues, “We sort of regarded them as the two faces of Mark Zuckerberg, the idealist who says, ‘I want to connect the globe, I want to create something beautiful that will bring something together,’ and the other aspect, which is… Baynham graciously completes her thought by saying, “‘I want to rule.
A nice guy and a bad guy tech executive were added, according to Baynham, because many tech dudes don’t view themselves as villains. They believe they are on a valiant quest to improve the world, he claims. They have blinders on, not because they are evil. Marc looks more like Mark Zuckerberg (hoodie), while Andrew, the nasty guy, looks like Steve Jobs (turtleneck). The popularity of the tech villain may also be explained by the ease with which billionaire bros and their chosen garb may be mocked on television.
What you’re trying to do is sum up in a few broad, simple strokes the type of reasons and people that are operating inside that business, says Smith. “We went into the tropes, we leaned into the Steve Jobs suit.”
Tech bros will probably continue to appear in movies as long as they continue to tech bro. In the end, these antagonists are a simple way to personify concerns about cutting-edge technologies because wires and chips aren’t human (yet). Smith asserts that although technology has the “amazing potential” to alter the course of history, its underlying ideologies frequently have the power to do harm. She claims that the largest change in child rearing in recent memory is that “kids’ films ought to truly deal with what’s going on in their life.” Finding culturally appropriate methods to start a conversation is crucial. even if they need to use a different screen.