That was what Captain America himself, Chris Evans, said at Comic-Con last year after finishing his Winter Soldier presentation. While those familiar with Marvel Comics will have the answer to this, it’s easy to forget that many fans of the Avengers have come to this franchise through the movies, and not the comic books.
So who is Ultron? What’s his deal? Why does he sound like Red Reddington? With Avengers: Age Of Ultron just around the corner we thought it best to explore the origins of the Avengers greatest foe.
In the comics, Ultron is arguably the Avengers greatest villain as he’s an antagonist to the group itself, rather than say Loki who’s really more of a Thor villain. Created by prolific Marvel writer Roy Thomas, Ultron made his first appearance in a disguised cameo in 1968 with Avengers #54, before being fully revealed in Avengers #55. Originally he was conceived as a force for protecting the world, but things didn’t quite go to plan. He was built to be both sentient and all-consuming in his quest for knowledge, and is even programmed to feel emotions – though he seems to gravitate more towards rage than empathy. He can even evolve and rebuild himself into bigger and stronger forms.
In Age of Ultron, much of these details remain the same, however the person who creates him differs. In the comics Ultron was built by scientist Hank Pym (a.k.a. the first Ant-Man), who created him based on his own brain patterns, but a sense of rebellion occurred within his artificial intelligence, and he developed an ‘Oedipus complex’, and desired to murder Pymm before he was eventually stopped by the Avengers. Director Joss Whedon has shifted things up a bit for the new film and has Ultron being created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as a way to ‘out source’ saving the world, while giving the Avengers a well earned break.
In a bid to give Ultron a dose of humanity, Stark models him after his own personality. As Chris Hemsworth explains, “it’s not the good version that could’ve come from [Stark’s] intellect and personality,” but rather a twisted variant which inherits Stark’s arrogance, absolutism, and cynicism without any of his empathy or compassion.
Ultron, delightfully played via performance capture by James Spader, believes that the only way to attain peace is by exterminating humanity.
“I know you’re ‘good’ people,” he tells them. “I know you mean well… but you just didn’t think it through… There is only one path to peace… your extermination.”
And this is no mindlessly twisted villain ominously twiddling his moustache, Ultron’s behavior is a rational response to what he sees as the inevitable failings of humanity.
“A lot of times when Ultron starts talking, it’s beautiful. It’s really intelligent stuff,” says Chris Evans.
“He’s out to do the things he wants to do because he’s disgusted with X, Y, and Z. You could probably sit down with Ultron and have a really intelligent conversation. He could blow your mind with his views… and then kill you.”
As the saying goes, a hero is only as good as his villain, and in James Spader’s Ultron, we’re certainly in for a treat on April 23.