As we inch closer to the beginning of the 2015 summer movie season and the May 1st release of Avengers: Age of Ultron in North America (it opens earlier internationally), Marvel Studios is becoming increasingly revealing in sharing details about the superhero sequel.
For that reason, consider the below information spoilerly since it clarifies a few questions about the origins of the villainous Ultron and The Avengers' mysterious new ally, Vision. But if you're looking for more after yesterday's official image reveal of Paul Bettany in the full Vision costume, then keep on scrolling. Warning: Spoilers.
The latest Avengers 2 video up top reiterates much of what's been highlighted in the latest extended TV spots and featurettes. It runs down the larger team, which includes the core six heroes from Avengers 1 working alongside Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and a pair of newcomers in Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). It also highlights the titular villain who writer and director Joss Whedon explains, "thinks he's doing the logical robot thing but he's full of rage."
Since the announcement that Ultron would be in the film, Whedon's not been shy about emphasizing the character's goal in tearing apart the Avengers and much of that has to do with his origins which are different than in Marvel Comics. In the source material, Ultron is created by original Ant-Man Hank Pym but moviegoers won't meet him until later this summer where he'll be an aged character played by Michael Douglas. That obvious answer, we theorized, is that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) could instead create Ultron and it would make sense given his character arc and how Iron Man 3 concluded. But it's never been clear.
The official Avengers: Age of Ultron plot synopsis revealed that "Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program" and that's where Ultron is formed, with the idea of protecting the world in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s absence. Tony Stark could still serve as an Avenger without having to necessarily suit up himself.
But then promotional art for merchandise added a twist, explaining that Ultron was discovered as a dormant program in Chitauri technology, left behind in the ruins of the Battle of New York from the first Avengers movie. This alien connection ties mesh well with the imagery of the trailers where Loki's Sceptre seems tied to Ultron building itself out of old parts. Perhaps the Sceptre, recovered from Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann)'s Hydra base in the film's prologue, does more than just unlock the powers inside Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, but actually helps create Ultron into a sentient being as well?
Speaking with EW Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige explains,
"Tony realizes, '[Those robotics Strucker was working on] might be able to help me get over the hump of some of the AI stuff I’ve been working on.'"
That makes sense now. We know Strucker is trying to implement Chitauri techology into Hydra forces and Stark ends up doing something similar with his own AI and tech. Think J.A.R.V.I.S. - his AI ally from all the films so far - but enhanced.
This is where we get into deeper Spoilers since EW also reveals that when Stark succeeds and Ultron is created, he first destroys J.A.R.V.I.S. then goes off and creates Vision himself. That last part is how it also plays out in the original Marvel Comics but it conflicts with the promotional art referenced above which details that Vision is created (or "programmed") by Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).
Ultron creating Vision does match earlier EW coverage from nine months ago which revealed that for part of the movie, Vision also worked with Ultron and the twins against The Avengers. Either way, it seems Paul Bettany simply goes from voicing a character, to playing a live-action one.
Update: Added clarification to promo art description of Vision.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.