In a universe where a 15-year-old boy has engineered webbing stronger than steel and a trickster god once brought an army of aliens to New York City, IRL trendsetters and certified geniuses such as Elon Musk might fall a little flat. That doesn’t mean Musk — founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and a slew of other groundbreaking companies and technologies — doesn’t have his place, though, in the MCU.
Here’s your brief reminder that Elon Musk had a cameo in Iron Man 2 and that he’s in business with Stark Industries.
Reddit user superblobby posted a screenshot of the scene to r/MarvelStudios on Monday. It’s been seven years since Iron Man 2 premiered in theaters and Musk still remains relevant (perhaps even more relevant than Iron Man 2 itself).
In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) arrive in Monaco and parade around a restaurant together, led by Natasha Romanoff’s undercover Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Pepper approaches a man in a white suit jacket and the two greet each other warmly. She calls him “Mr. Musk” and he congratulates her on the promotion.
And since Tony is Tony, he steps into their discussion. “Those Merlin engines are fantastic,” Tony says to Musk.
“Oh, thank you,” Musk says. “I’ve got an idea for an electric jet!”
Tony promises “we’ll make it work,” then flutters away with Pepper at his side, the two launching right back into the argument they were previously having.
Iron Man 2 supposedly takes place in the same year it premiered (2010), which falls perfectly in line with Tony’s comment to Musk. He congratulates Musk on the “Merlin engines,” which are the engines Musk’s SpaceX invented and has used to launch its Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 reusable rockets. The SpaceX reusable launch system development program was first publicly announced in 2011, though the Merlin engines were put into effect in 2006 with the Merlin 1A engine.
SpaceX’s reusable rockets really launched (sorry) the company into the public eye, especially once they actually started to work. Their success certified Musk as a household name — outside of the success he’d already seen from Tesla and his approximately 12 million other companies, that is.
Musk’s accomplishments have landed him other spots within the greater cultural zeitgeist, as well. For example, Star Trek: Discovery namedropped Musk as one of the greatest minds in history and the entire in-world universe of Mass Effect: Andromeda apparently owes its success to SpaceX’s as-yet-unlaunched Falcon Heavy rocket.
Of course, Musk’s accomplishments pale in comparison to everyone else in the MCU. They just so happen to be fictional.