For the many upcoming Marvel Studios projects in development, casting rumors and speculation is the absolute norm. With two major Marvel films releasing per year (and that's just from the Disney camp) there are many characters that need be cast and with the success of the franchise to date, seemingly every actor in the business has had their name dropped at one point or another in association with one of the upcoming films.
Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper have been the subject of the most recent buzz, with Marvel officially announcing the casting of Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy and Diesel earning a lot of attention for talking up not one, but two roles he may take in the future. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen meanwhile, are in talks with Marvel for The Avengers: Age of Ultron and for this reason, Marvel surprised everyone when officially announcing that James Spader had officially joined The Avengers sequel.
Of all the theories and rumors, Spader's name never popped up once for any Marvel gig which made the casting all the more shocking (yet inspired), especially with him starring in the new NBC series Blacklist which airs this fall. Ultron is a robot, powered by the mind of a dangerously lethal and angry AI. When the title and character were revealed at Comic-Con over the summer, fans in attendance witnessed one of Iron Man's armored suits transform into Ultron, leading to speculation that it was Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his AI assistant JARVIS who may be - at least partially - responsible for the creation of the new villain. And with that, some believed that Paul Bettany - the voice of JARVIS - may end up playing Ultron.
That's clearly no the case. As for how Spader was selected for the part? That was 100% on writer and director Joss Whedon who had the idea of using Ultron for the sequel while shooting the first Avengers film. He tells Marvel:
"Spader was my first and only choice. He's got that hypnotic voice that can be eerily calm and compelling, but he's also very human and humorous. Ultron is not Hal. Spader can play all of the levels. He's the guy to break The Avengers into pieces."
The Hal namedrop refers to the infamous calm and monotone artificial intelligence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The more interesting highlight is the "break The Avengers into pieces" which harkens back to Whedon's previous hints about the story of Age of Ultron being one of deeper, more personal and emotional struggles for Earth's Mightiest Heroes where "awful" things happen to them.
From "twisting the knife" of the team, to adding two new characters in Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch who don't agree with the methods of The Avengers and teasing the idea of "death" on more than one occasion, the sequel promises to put the heroes of the Battle of New York to the test. If Loki "killing" Agent Coulson in The Avengers had an effect on you, wait until Spader does worse.
Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
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