‘Glass Onion’ Symbolism, Explained: Unpacking The Irony Of Miles Bron, The Mona Lisa, And Hydrogen Fuel ‘Klear’


Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is yet another murder mystery that bluntly states, “Eat the rich.” It has an all-new cast of characters, with Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc being the only common thread between the two films. It’s filled to the brim with relevant social commentary and cameos (Ethan Hawke, Hugh Grant, Serena Williams, Natasha Lyonne, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Yo-Yo Ma, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the Hourly Dong). And we can talk endlessly about this movie and whether it’s too dependent on what’s happening on social media or if that’s the entire point and it’s showing us that being neurotically online makes you dumb. But, for now, let’s focus on the attention-seeking, narcissistic, and manipulative idiot at the center of it all and how he’s the very definition of irony.

Major Spoilers Ahead

Miles Bron And The Glass Onion

I am sure that you’ve heard the dialogue from Raaj Kumar which is along the lines of “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others.” Miles Bron and his group of “friends” personify this saying. They call themselves “disruptors” because they are destroying everything that’s synonymous with the status quo in order to create a new norm. This basically means that they are crossing all kinds of ethical, moral, and legal boundaries to exploit those who are not as rich as them to sustain their lives. But, despite realizing it on some level, Miles and his ilk never want to accept that they are putting themselves in a situation that can be “disrupted” within seconds if someone with even the slightest inkling of conscience stands up to them. And there are multiple examples of that happening throughout history. The only problem is that people like Miles usually surround them with fake layers to slow down the process of reality hitting them in the face.

As you probably must have figured out (because Benoit Blanc points it out, too), “glass” and “onion” are self-contradictory in nature. One is supposed to be transparent, and the other is supposed to be layered to conceal what’s at its center. But if those layers are made of glass, they expose the center and constantly run the danger of being broken. In Bron’s case, these layers are the people he surrounds himself with. Claire is a politician, which doesn’t need further elaboration. Duke is a “men’s rights activist” who sells knockoff Viagra pills. Birdie is a fashionista who thinks sweatshops in Bangladesh make sweatpants. Lionel is a “yes man” for all of Miles’s scientific endeavors. Andi is the odd one out, so she’s ousted from the group. The first time we see Miles, he’s wearing the same outfit that Tom Cruise wore in “Magnolia,” where his character was a “motivational speaker” and pick-up artist. Later, he copies Steve Jobs’ outfit. He flouts COVID norms by spraying a mysterious liquid into everyone’s mouths, which probably has nothing in it. He is surrounded by Jeremy Renner’s hot sauce, Jared Leto’s kombucha, and a Kanye West mural. His puzzle can be solved by Duke’s mother without even looking at it. He stole the plot to murder Duke and Helen from Benoit. Nothing he has or does belongs to him, but he keeps layering himself with it so that no one can see his true hypocritical face. Or at least he thinks no one can.

The Mona Lisa Exposes Miles Bron’s Hypocrisy

Out of all the aforementioned pieces of art and many others littered throughout the Glass Onion (which I’m not smart enough to list), Miles’s most prized possession is the original painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Apparently, due to the pandemic, France needed some money. So, Miles loaned it to them, and in exchange, he moved the Mona Lisa from the Louvre to the Glass Onion. That’s absurd because it’s meant to be absurd. But what’s worse is that he has bypassed the painting’s security system (which is meant to save the painting from any kind of external harm) with a jester-themed override button. Miles says he has done that because he wants to see it without the protective glass layer. What he means is that he considers himself to be above everyone else, and he deserves to do something that others can’t afford to do, legally speaking. I mean, this is a 500-year-old painting that has been conserved with so many factors in mind, and then there’s this douchebag who is flouting all of that just so that he can flex in front of his friends.

Miles does talk about how he reveres the painting, how he was influenced by it when he gazed upon it as a child, and that he has in-depth knowledge about how da Vinci painted it to give the Mona Lisa her signature, ambiguous expression. He mentions that an apparently simple things like that can have so much depth and complexity. In doing so, for the umpteenth time, Miles associates his ability to loan the painting from France and have Wikipedia-level knowledge about it with his own image. FYI, the (ugly) artistic representation of Miles sits right across the painting of Mona Lisa. He thinks his name should be uttered “in the same breath as Mona Lisa” because of his “scientific prowess.” But what he fails to comprehend is that da Vinci and the Mona Lisa have acquired this depth and popularity after years of work, passion, restoration, and analysis. And even after all these years, their relevance hasn’t waned because of the originality of da Vinci’s artistry. Miles, on the other hand, is all about shortcuts. He isn’t interested in the long game. He wants instant success by jumping on the latest trends or by creating ones that will be forgotten in a few years. So, despite all his adulation for the Mona Lisa, Bron fails to see his fundamental flaw, while Rian Johnson exposes our preference for instant fame over long-lasting greatness.

Sidenote: the final frame of “Glass Onion” is that of Helen sitting exactly like Mona Lisa.

The Unscientific Future That Miles Bron Sees In Klear

The Elon Musk parallels were pretty apparent from the get-go. He’s known for surrounding himself with people who revere him or are severely dependent on him, which is why when he steps out of that bubble, he realizes that no one actually likes him. He pretends to have an innate knowledge of movies, TV shows, and books, but every time he comments on them, he reveals he has misunderstood the text completely. But tech bros all over the world know Musk for his scientific acumen, and he has been a disaster in that avenue as well. His self-driving, electric cars are a mess and incredibly prone to accidents. His rockets crash and burn all the time. Back in 2011, he said he was going to put a man on Mars in the next 10 years. Well, it’s almost 2023, and the dude isn’t even close to achieving that. His “efforts” to avoid traffic congestion led to, well, traffic congestion, and that too in an inescapable tube. He has taken an anti-vaccine stance during this COVID-19 pandemic. And although Musk has dismissed hydrogen fuel as an alternative to oil and gas, his plans to revolutionize transportation have been unaffordable and impractical.

Through Miles, Rian Johnson shows us something that we all know unscientific people cannot make scientific innovations. Even if they do, their impact will probably be temporary. Like Musk (who probably has a bachelor’s degree in physics and economics), Miles’s educational qualifications are unknown. He constantly spews incomprehensible and grammatically incorrect English. His only achievement is hijacking the brainchild of a Black woman (Andi) and putting the future of the company created by her, and the futures of everyone associated with it atop an untested hydrogen-based fuel called Klear. Just so we are clear, the problem isn’t that it’s hydrogen-based. The problem is that it hasn’t been tested properly before being greenlit for domestic or commercial use. That’s why it feels cathartic when Miles’s past, present, and future go up in flames, thereby preventing Klear from getting to anyone else. In addition to all that, it’s amusing that Miles thinks (or at least claims) that the seawater that Klear has been made of or will be made of in the foreseeable future is abundant in nature. Well, when Miles rots in jail for his crimes against humanity, I hope he learns about climate change, rising water levels, and how deriving Klear from seawater is probably going to contribute to it instead of preventing it.

See More: ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Ending, Explained: How Did Benoit Blanc Figure Out Who The Killer Was?

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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