On May 1st, 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron will hit theatres across North America; many will have had tickets purchased weeks in advance, have a fridge full of Ultron-themed Dr. Pepper cans and have pre-ordered hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise (frantically awaiting UPS to ring their doorbell).
I saw “The Avengers” at a midnight screening when it first came out and enjoyed the packed room of some 400 fellow nerds who laughed out loud when Steve Rogers “got the reference” and cheered for almost a minute straight when Bruce/Hulk punched out that first flying serpent to set off the final battle sequences. The feeling in the room was electric during the closing credits scene that revealed *SPOILER ALERT* that Thanos was officially involved in the Marvel Movie Universe.
My second viewing of the film in theatres was with what you might call “the norms”. A room full of your average movie-goer out to see the popular film of the week. The experience was a little different and the credit sequence got nothing but a dozen “what”s and “who’s that guy”s.
San Diego Comic Con 2013 was where Joss Whedon revealed that The Avengers 2 would share it’s name with a recent published storyline from recent books: The Age of Ultron. Definitely a curveball after months of speculation on Thanos’ exact role only to find out he might not be in the movie at all!
So, it occurs to me that if the average movie goer was confused by the Mad Titan and his curious grin at the thought of “courting death itself”, they very likely don’t have a clue who or what an Ultron is! I’ve even met comic book readers who don’t know. They’re dead now because I killed them. Only because one of the first major Marvel story lines I ever read featured Ultron vs. The West Coast Avengers (with a sub story featuring The Grim Reaper, Wonder Man’s brother, dramaaaaa!).
I won’t go through a wikipedia-style history of Ultron (there’s probably a website somewhere you could get that on…not sure which one….look it up), just the version you could give your buddy or your girlfriend a few minutes before the lights go out at the theatre so they can say “yeah yeah, I get the idea” with some confidence and enjoy Avengers 2.
Here are a couple sample questions one might ask before the movie starts:
“So, he’s a robot?” – yeah, pretty much. A lot of his backstory was originally revealed retroactively (aka – “here’s what really happened”) but the stuff you need to know is: Yes, he’s an android created by Hank Pym, also known as Ant Man (and Giant Man, size-changing powers is his game). Dr. Pym lives with constant guilt over creating Ultron as the machine has killed hundreds of people since its creation. Originally made of steel, Ultron continues to be destroyed and return in a myriad of different ways and recreate and improve his form. He is consistently returning in an adamantium body (think: Wolverine’s claws), making him nearly indestructible (until the writer forgets this point in the final issue and someone ends up destroying his body, go figure). He has also been protected from EMP’s in the past, so it’s assumed this is an ongoing “widget” he includes every time.
“Why don’t they just kill it?” – ah, well, as I said, they have, or they thought they had. This one time (at band camp) Thor tossed Ultron into the Sun (classic move) but the machine had already tossed it’s personality into a satellite they passed while leaving Earth. He’s always doing crazy things like that.
James Spader will be portraying Ultron in the films, the assumption would be that he is providing his voice and possibly motion performance capture.
The movie version of Ultron will not have been created by Hank Pym, despite the fact that an “Ant Man” movie will be released from Marvel Studios in 2015. Instead, it is rumoured that Ultron is the creation of Tony Stark, sparking the many jibes that “Avengers 2” could have been called “Iron Man 4”, as Tony will likely be highly featured and will potentially be Robert Downey Jr’s final portrayal of the character.
Want to catch up on past Ultron stories and get excited for the movie? Here are some key things to check out:
DVD – “Next Avengers”: ironically, Marvel’s animated movies are typically pretty bad. Poor stories mixed with poor animation. Oddly enough, this “alternate future” story was one of their better ones. Ultron is featured as a main villain.
TV – “Avengers: United They Stand” and “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” both feature Ultron as a recurring villain.
COMICS – “Mighty Avengers” #1-6 feature a mind *&$#-ing Ultron return to haunt his creator Hank Pym, in the body of his dead wife. “Age of Ultron” #1-12 is the most recent storyline, though not the strongest. “Annihilation: Conquest” starring “The Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Nova” is my personal favourite story featuring Ultron and would catch you up on several other upcoming Marvel properties.
And now, to finish the article in binary………..