Upgrade, a new thriller set in a Tesla-like dystopia, is the latest big-budget film to replace the stereotypical evil Russian with the evil Silicon Valley nerd

Hollywood has a history of drawing on collective fears. The dawn of the atomic age saw a boom in world-ending disasters, James Bond battled Russians all throughout the cold war, and the post-9/11 era saw a grimly predictable rise in Arab and Muslim bad-guys. And so it follows, that in the past few years – as the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have accrued more power, wealth and influence than most governments – the face of villainy has changed again.

Since the turn of the decade, blockbusters have increasingly cast Silicon Valley’s tech-bros as supervillains. And it’s not hard to see why. Whether it’s the image of a pallid Zuckerberg hauled up in front of congress for disrupting democracy, or Jeff Bezos tweeting images of himself piloting giant robots, their public image has been less than gleaming. The meek have inherited the earth, and now they seem hellbent on destroying it.

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