Stephen Colbert Tries to Figure Out if Elon Musk Is a Superhero or Something More Sinister (VIDEO)

The SpaceX and Tesla CEO talked Mars, reusable rockets and sustainable energy with the newly minted Late Show host.

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By Nina Zipkin

With Elon Musk's resume -- the CEO of Tesla Motors, CEO and CTO of SpaceX and chairman of SolarCity – it's no wonder people often refer to him as the real-life Tony Stark. But is Musk more supervillain than hero?

That was the question Stephen Colbert pondered last night as a low-key Musk joined him on the second episode of CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. When the host asked him if was sincerely trying to save the world, Musk somewhat self-effacingly replied, "Well I'm trying to do good things, yeah." Colbert then showed a video of the prototype for Tesla's "Power Arm," a Doctor Octopus-style metal 'Snakebot' charger that winds its way into the Tesla Model S's charging port on its own.

Related: 5 Things You Don't Know About Elon Musk

When Colbert asked if the charger might attack him in his sleep, Musk joked, "for the prototype at least, I would recommend not dropping anything when you're near it" -- a surprisingly lighthearted (and slightly ribald) take given how vocal Musk is about the dangers of sentient artificial intelligence.

Moving on to Musk's aspirations for Mars, the entrepreneur called the red planet a "fixer-upper" and said that there were two ways to make it hospitable for humans that wouldn't require those intrepid first colonists to live in giant domes forever.

Related: Elon Musk's Money Is Being Used to Stop AI From Obliterating Humans

The slow way would be to warm the planet via the release of greenhouse gases, like what's happening on Earth. And the fast way would be to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles. To which Colbert replied, "You're a supervillain." Musk also predicted that the Falcon rockets would be ready to fly and take NASA astronauts to the Space Station in two to three years' time and discussed how reusable rockets would make multi-planetary travel an affordable reality.

The interview was not without a few awkward moments, like when Colbert called Musk "one of the CEOs of SpaceX," to which Musk quickly corrected him with a "the CEO." And at one point in the conversation, Colbert joked to Musk "everything seems to be insulting you this evening," when the host referred to the Falcon test rockets landing on a barge and Musk replied, "It's a ship, it has engines." But then again, you probably want the guy tinkering with reusable rockets and figuring out sustainable energy to be all about specifics, even if he is trying to take over the world.

Related: Elon Musk Wants to Build a Second Internet in Outer Space to the Tune of $10 Billion
Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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