Thor, Iron Man and Captain America have quite a challenge ahead of them as they enter the Age of Ultron.
But where did this malevolent C-3PO on steroids come from, and why is he out to take over the world?
Ulton has a long, rich history in Marvel comics, starting back in 1968 as the robotic helper of biochemist Hank Pym (also known as Avengers co-founder Ant-Man, among noms de guerre).
Pym creates the world’s first artificial intelligence in Ultron, but things quickly spin out of control. Ultron’s sentience comes with a price – he has major daddy issues. Instead of just wanting to destroy Pym, he sets out to destroy all of the Avengers. Instead of a frontal assault, though, he uses his powers of hypnosis to infiltrate the team through their trusted butler Edwin Jarvis.
The film version differs significantly in that its Tony Stark and Bruce Banner who create Ultron, based on technology found after the alien invasion in the first Avengers feature. We won’t likely see Pym until later this summer in “Ant-Man.” And instead of an Oedipus Complex, Ultron simply wants to wipe out the human infestation plaguing Earth.
If this sounds like the inspiration for “The Terminator” and loads of other sci-fi stories, it should. The fear of artificial intelligence has a healthy history, going back to at least Samuel Butler.
One difference from other AI villians is that Ultron has a superior mind (he boasts the brainwave patterns of the brilliant Hank Pym) as well as the body to match. Ultron was the first character to feature adamantium, the fictional, unbreakable metal that lines Wolverine’s bones. (In the movies version, his frame is vibranium – another unbreakable alloy – which is found only in the fiction African kingdom of Wakanda. This allows the Marvel Cinematic Universe to grow by introducing the King of Wakanda, T’Challa, also known as the Black Panther.)
So the Avengers need more than a blast of Iron Man’s repulsor beams or a tap from Thor’s Mjolnir to defeat this baddie. He also uses super strength, power blasts and hypnotism to foil the Avengers.
To make matters worse for our heroes, Ultron has help, inspired from various comics. He creates the Vision, a “synthezoid” who can fly, alter his density to phase through objects and lay waste to his enemies with a solar-powered blast. Ultron sends Vision to destroy the Avengers, but the creation also gains sentience and sides with the heroes against his creator – bringing the father hatred full circle.
The movie differs by Ultron taking Stark’s AI butler J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany) and turning him into the green and red villain-turned-hero. In the comics, the Vision eventually marries the Scarlet Witch, who plays a major role in the new film after a post-credits cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ultron also builds an army of robots to serve as cannon fodder for Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk. This is similar to 2013’s Age of Ultron comic book event, in which Ultron had taken over the planet and used his robotic minions to enforce his reign of terror. That’s where the comparisons cease, though, as the comic series messes with time – at one point even having Wolverine kill Pym before he creates his monster.
Time travel won’t be featured in the movie; instead it will take a combination of brains and brawn to defeat this impressive foe – and end the Age of Ultron.