The veil has been lifted on Joss Whedon’s sequel to The Avengers and story details are beginning to roll in. After announcing the title of the film last year at Comic-Con International, Earth’s Mightiest (read: Disney’s mightiest at the box office) return to the annual pop culture and comic book event in San Diego next week for a hotly anticipated panel presentation where we expect major revelations regarding the next few years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The cast of the sequel will return to the stage at the infamous 6000-person Hall H in the San Diego Convention Center after they appeared for the first time four years ago in one of the biggest moments in the Con's history. This time however, the cast is quite a bit bigger and they’ve got some first-look exclusive footage to debut.
A new threat is emerging in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it might be Earth’s most dangerous yet. This antagonist is so worthy that “he” (as it refers to himself) even gets his name in the title of the film: The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Entertainment Weekly published their Comic-Con preview double-issue this week and Marvel Studios got the cover story with The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The cover art revealed the first official image of Ultron alongside the co-leaders of The Avengers - Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). The new origin story of Ultron was also confirmed, one that differs slightly but remains largely faithful to Marvel Comics.
Ultron is an artificially intelligent robot and in the comics, he’s created by scientist Hank Pym (the first Ant-Man who will be played by Michael Douglas in next year's Ant-Man movie). In the Marvel Cinematic Universe however, it’s Tony Stark who creates Ultron instead and the Phase 2 movies have been building towards this. In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark makes use of his AI assistant JARVIS (voiced by Paul Bettany) to help command automated Iron Man suites. Stark can control his own remotely, without directly putting himself into danger and JARVIS can control a small army of reinforcements. Although we didn't know it at the time, this was leading into what he's doing in The Avengers sequel.
Combine that evolution of Stark’s arsenal with the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and you can piece together what Stark would logically do next. He’s bankrolling The Avengers and his Stark Tower - retrofitted after the events of The Avengers - is their HQ. Stark’s big project now, to help police the world and assist the team, is Ultron – a program that can automatically identify and neutralize threats using automated Iron Man suits. Think of them as next-level Drones that use Stark Industries tech. This is the Iron Legion, a term nabbed from the Iron Man comics.
In an effort to make Ultron’s artificial intelligence more human, Stark does the best he can at building his personality into Ultron but that ends up being a recipe for disaster. Before Stark’s kidnapping in the first Iron Man, he didn’t have the most admirable personality and mindset, and so Ultron takes things to the extreme, believing that the most dangerous thing on the planet are humans and The Avengers.
Ultron’s dark turn becomes apparent during a party at The Avengers Tower early in the film where Stark and co. are celebrating the launch of Ultron, a sequence that was previously rumored and recently proven true. It’s here where we’ll meet plenty of familiar faces (cameos!) dressed in casual clothing and towards the end, when the guests leave and only the familiar faces remain, Ultron makes his intentions known and a brawl breaks out.
"I know you’re ‘good’ people. I know you mean well… but you just didn't think it through… There is only one path to peace… your extermination."
The Avengers are able to hold their own despite not being suited up or armed but this moment radically changes the landscape of the what the heroes know about themselves and their newest threat... and that is only the first variant of a hyper-intelligent Ultron who has decided to pursue his own lethal course of action...