After voicing a key character in four Marvel Studios movies to date, Paul Bettany is finally going to be appearing in one of them as well. The British star of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Priest, Legion and the upcoming Transcendence plays the artificially intelligent companion known as J.A.R.V.I.S. to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in all three Iron Man films and The Avengers, but in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, he's playing two characters.
Bettany was spotted two months ago leaving one of Marvel's production offices where it was reported he underwent makeup and costume tests for the role of Vision - another Avengers character from the comics. It was a surprise bit of casting and something fans didn't see coming after all of the new character buzz had been focused on newcomers Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) for the better part of a year. Nevertheless, it was a very welcome casting choice and one that seemingly lends itself perfectly to the voice fans find so familiar.
While Marvel Studios never made the Bettany-Vision announcement official in the same way they did for the other new characters, including the film's primary antagonist in Ultron - another A.I. character - we expect that after Transcendence hits theaters and Bettany is on set shooting his parts in costume, that an official announcement may come. In the meantime, Bettany (with the help of Disney's ABC) confirmed it himself and briefly talked about his role(s) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Remember, Disney owns Marvel and ABC so that's why this 'announcement' was made here and why the first Guardians of the Galaxy teaser trailer debuted on the show as well.
The first question Kimmel asked was about Vision's powers in the film:
"Oh, I can do all sorts of things, but I'm not allowed to really talk about them and what we’re going to do because there might be a Marvel agent in the room that will actually wrestle me to the ground. And fire me!"
That's the standard media-trained, non-disclosure agreement type response we get from most people involved with Marvel projects, but the Kimmel and Bettany made an interesting point when hinting that what's in the film may be different than Vision's powers from the comics.
Vision represents an intriguing addition to The Avengers roster for a variety of reasons. The character may share a similar origin story to that of the film's villain, Ultron (James Spader) - an origin that we know writer and director Joss Whedon is writing himself and one that will be different from the comics. With the obvious Paul Bettany connection, there's reason to believe the AI characters may have something to do with Stark's J.A.R.V.I.S. system (who has his own official Marvel app) and there were hints of such a thing in animatics and story boards from The Avengers that never made it into the film. After all, the first teaser for The Avengers: Age of Ultron did feature an Iron Man suit transforming into Ultron.
There's also the relationship and eventual marriage between Vision (an android) and Scarlet Witch that happens in the comics, a rather odd story arc to adapt to live-action, but one we wouldn't expect to be completely ignored in the films. With (at least) three new characters joining The Avengers in the battle against Ultron, we're curious if the actors playing them all signed lengthy multi-picture deals, what characters may not live through Age of Ultron, and what other characters may make an appearance. Like War Machine (Don Cheadle):
Excited to see Vision joining Earth's Mightiest?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now in theaters, Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
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