Elon Musk is canon in the MCU.
It’s an odd thing to consider, much like Lil Nas X’s survival of the snap in the broad cinematic universe, but it is nonetheless a persisting fact. Musk made his MCU debut back in 2010, with Iron Man 2, and thus established himself as a real-world figure that co-exists in both our superhero-less world and the fictional universe in which all the Marvel films are set. This fact is once again on our minds, as we consider how Musk’s acquisition of Twitter would go over in a world with Tony Stark, Spider-Man, and the Avengers.
Musk appeared in a brief cameo in Iron Man 2, playing himself alongside a slew of fictional billionaires and genius entrepreneurs. In the years since, his name has cropped up in various MCU projects on several occasions, as the cinematic universe continues to reinforce his existence alongside its many fictional characters. What began as a silly cameo from a well-known figure is now sparking a ponderous new question, as we consider how Tony Stark may have reacted to Musk’s recent Twitter buyout.
In the MCU, Tony Stark and Musk would likely be poised as competitors, given the similarities between their business endeavors. They’re not presented as such in their on-screen appearance together, but we’re betting that behind the scenes the pair would often find themselves locking horns. This would likely only be intensified by Musk’s purchase of Twitter, which we believe Tony would find objectionable.
The reasons for this are based heavily around when Musk made the Twitter purchase in the MCU. Assuming we’re sticking to established timelines, however — and, of course, ignoring the fact that Tony is dead in the MCU — Musk’s Twitter purchase would take place after Avengers: Age of Ultron, and this is where the crux of our argument lies.
See, Tony learned a hard lesson in Age of Ultron. His hubris nearly saw the human race fall victim to an army of genocidal robots, and—while Musk likely doesn’t have quite the tech to make Twitter into an Ultron-level threat—putting that kind of power in a single man’s hands would likely spark concern. The MCU hasn’t wound some of its alternate billionaires (like Victor von Doom and Norman Osborn) into its universe just yet, but these additions can serve as solid parallels to the likely status of Musk in a superhero world.
Doctor Doom feels like the character with the best connections to Musk, given his brilliance and highly-ambitious aims. Musk is no villain—at least not on the scale of Doctor Doom — but it’s not hard to imagine that a global takeover could eventually fall on the mogul’s bucket list. As he slowly collects power — starting with the massive growth of his businesses and proceeding with his purchase of Twitter—its easy to visualize a world in which Musk’s aim to “help humanity” lands on global dominion as the chosen route to cure humanity’s ails.
Add to this Musk’s previous ventures into the spread of communication, largely via his Starlink satellite internet constellation, which is operated by the Musk-owned SpaceX, and the billionaire suddenly has the ability to ensure that everyone, everywhere, has access to his social media platform. In doing so, he would be able to largely control the narrative surrounding almost everything, from cancel culture and politics to his own business ventures. It could get dangerous quite quickly.
Tony Stark has plenty of flaws, but this is certainly not something he’d be on board with. In a world in which Musk leaned on a former Stark quote, and announced that he has “successfully privatized free speech,” it seems clear that he would quickly become a villain. He could seize control over how people perceived the world, and his actions, and could quickly rally supporters to his cause. With the additional income generated by these ventures, he could soon snatch up other communication-based properties, like Facebook and Parler, and soon all widespread social media would operate under the Musk banner.
In all honesty, the idea sounds like a pretty enticing MCU pitch. A formerly well-meaning mogul-turned villain, who’s attempts to loosen the reigns on free speech eventually see him create a toxic and self-serving platform through which his wealth and influence only grow, sounds right at home in the superhero-drenched universe. Musk has all the makings for a classic billionaire baddie, who’s intelligence and detachment from the realities of the majority of the world make him unaware of the damage he’s truly doing.