- Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and the musician Grimes have given their new baby an unusual name full of hidden meaning, and it may have been inspired in part by X-Men comics.
- The name, which Musk and Grimes say is spelled X Æ A-12, is pronounced X Ash Archangel, according to Musk. Archangel is the internal codename for the A-12, a US Central Intelligence Agency plane built during the Cold War.
- The A-12 was the precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird, which Musk and Grimes say is their favorite aircraft. “No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent,” Grimes said in her tweet explaining the name.
- The Blackbird is nearly identical to the X-Jet, the plane used by the X-Men. Both planes can fly at supersonic speeds and have technology to make them nearly undetectable.
- Both Musk and Grimes are comic book fans. Grimes has placed comic book references in her songs and X-Men references in her music videos, and Musk’s Tesla factory in California named all its robots after X-Men characters.
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The name Elon Musk and Grimes chose for their new baby has caused both confusion and a whole lot of memes, but we may know a least one source of inspiration behind the unusual name: the X-Men.
The baby’s name, which the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted earlier this week is X Æ A-12 Musk, doesn’t make much sense on the surface, especially when you consider that California state law doesn’t allow for special characters, numbers, or “inappropriate” hyphenation on birth certificates.
Even the couple appears to disagree on the pronunciation: Grimes wrote on Instagram that the first part of the name is actually pronounced as X A.I., or, phonetically, “ecks aye eye,” while Musk said on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast released Thursday that it’s pronounced “X Ash.”
And then there’s the latter part of the name, A-12. While people on Twitter initially speculated it could be a math equation, it turns out it’s a reference to a type of aircraft, specifically a US Central Intelligence Agency plane with the internal codename “Archangel,” which Grimes noted on Twitter is also the name of her favorite song.
The Lockheed A-12 was a short-lived spy plane used by the CIA in the 1960s. It was the precursor to an aircraft called the SR-71 Blackbird, which Grimes and Musk noted is their favorite aircraft. The plane had no offensive or defensive weapons, and was used during the Cold War for high-altitude surveillance.
Musk said on the podcast that A-12 is his “contribution” to the name, but Grimes came up with the rest.
“No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent,” Grimes said in her tweet explaining the name.
This is where the X-Men come in: the SR-71 Blackbird is nearly identical to the X-Jet, the plane used by the X-Men.
Lockheed Martin, whose Skunk Works team designed the Blackbird in the early 1960s, says the X-Men’s aircraft was “heavily inspired” by its plane. The X-Jet is able to perform a vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL, which the fifth-generation Blackbird is nearly able to do. The jet is also capable of supersonic flight, and the Blackbird has set numerous records — Lockheed says it’s the “World’s fastest and highest-flying manned aircraft.” And while the X-Jet uses alien cloaking technology to make it undetectable, the Blackbird has a radar-reflecting surface.
Plus, “X-Jet” is just a nickname. The true name of the plane? Blackbird.
Both Grimes and Musk are noted comic book fans. Grimes has included multiple comic book references in her songs and music videos, naming a song after DC supervillain Darkseid and including X-Men references in the music video for the song “Go.” In 2013, when Grimes signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, she wrote on Tumblr that she “joined the x men.”
Musk is a comic book aficionado, once saying that he used to “read all the comics I could buy” as a child and noting that characters like Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Doctor Strange, and Iron Man were among his favorites. And at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, the robots used in the assembly line are named after X-Men characters: Professor Xavier, Wolverine, Iceman, Storm, and Beast.
So while it’s impossible to say for sure what exactly inspired the baby’s unusual name — or even the preferred pronunciation — Professor X and his team of mutant superheroes may have played a small part.