The Avengers: Age of Ultron – Who is Ultron?

The Age of Ultron is finally upon us, and it’s beautiful.

When they said “teaser,” they really meant it. Although the recently leaked teaser trailer for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” leaves fans with plenty to feed the imagination, it leaves little-to-no context.  What does it all mean? Have no fear. I’ve gone through the Marvel archives and sorted through everything Avengers so you don’t have to! Get the low-down on Ultron, predictions, and more to satisfy your geek needs.

Who is Ultron, anyways?

It’s not so much who is Ultron as it is what is Ultron. Ultron made its first appearance in the Marvel universe in 1968, issue 54 of “The Avengers” (although its origins weren’t explained until issue 57-58). As an experiment in high-intelligence robotics, genius scientist Henry “Hank” Pym – also known as “Ant Man” – created and designed Ultron, an advanced program that generated radical artificial intelligence. Its purpose: to bring peace and order to the world.

Gradually, Ultron’s AI evolved to exhibit supreme intelligence. It eventually developed to the point where it was able to turn itself on, upgrade itself several times, and even rebuild its external ware to manifest itself in robot form. It even developed an Oedipus Complex, which can be simply defined as a young boy’s development of sexual desire towards his mother and hatred towards his father, a phase found in psychologist Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Stages. Like a child, Ultron developed an irrational hatred towards Pym, who he considered his father, and likewise displayed an interest in Pym’s lover, Janet van Dyne – also known as “The Wasp.”

As Ultron’s AI advanced, so did its analysis on human nature. Ultron ultimately came to the conclusion that humans were inherently violent. To the robot, this meant that the only way of fulfilling its mission of restoring peace and order to the world was by annihilating mankind, the makers of war.

In a quote early in the trailer, Ultron speaks on the paradoxical nature of humankind:

“You want to protect the world. But you don’t want it to change. You’re all puppets tangled in strings. Strings.” — Ultron

According to its philosophy, the Avengers’ ideals are redundant. What sense does it make to protect humanity from humanity? What purpose does it serve to perpetually strive for temporal peace? If change isn’t a foreseeable quality of humanity as proven throughout history, how then can the world be truly saved?

In an alternative series, Ultron actually succeeds in killing off the entire human population, as well as the Avengers.

The Problem

Marvel president Kevin Feige and Avengers director Josh Whedon stated in an interview at the San Diego Comic-Con 2013 that “Age of Ultron” wouldn’t feature Pym. Instead, they plan to introduce a separate origin story.

The Solution

Although we can cross off the 1960’s origin story, “The Mighty Avengers” by Brian Michael Bendis offers another origin story in which Ultron inhabits and takes over Tony “Iron Man” Stark’s armor. Synchronizing itself with Stark’s armor allowed Ultron to physically transform and reconstruct Iron Man’s suit into a newer version of Ultron and subsequently take control of Stark’s technology.

Likewise, the teaser trailer showcases an Iron Man helmet slowly deconstructing and evolving into the head of Ultron. Coincidence? I think not.

Prediction

Although Ultron’s 1968 origin is unlikely, certain elements from issues 54-55 may still be used. In issue 55, Ultron mind-controls the Avenger’s butler, Jarvis, and uses him against The Avengers. Now if you remember, Jarvis is Tony Stark’s AI in the “Iron Man” films. This version of Jarvis is a computer program instead of a human butler.

There’s currently speculation that Stark’s AI could become rogue in “The Avengers 2” and evolve to become Ultron. A more likely approach, however, is that Stark would design a separate AI that would become Ultron. This would allow for Jarvis to be manipulated by Ultron – as he was in the 1960’s version – and used against the Avengers.

But why would Stark design such a corrupt program? Well, at the end of “Iron Man 3,” Tony Stark promised girlfriend Pepper Potts that he’d quit his Iron Man gig. He then initiated the “clean slate protocol,” in which he puts on a magnificent show of fireworks by blowing up all of his Iron Man suits. Yes, every single one.

I can’t imagine Stark quitting his obsession with Iron Man suits so easily. Perhaps for the upcoming installment of “The Avengers,” he will attempt to aid society from superhuman threats without actually being physically involved by creating an AI with an incredibly complex algorithm. Of course, in order for the movie to progress, the programming would go awry as it did in the 60’s origin, thus creating the Avenger’s ultimate foe.

Cool story, bro. But give me some evidence.

Trailer analysis coming soon! This page is constantly being updated for timeliness and accuracy.

Conclusion

Then again, if it’s anything like “Iron Man 3,” Ultron could just end up being an underpaid actor and as threatening as dry paint. Marvel could just reassign the role of Ultron like they did The Mandarin – Iron Man’s arch-nemesis in the comics – and make him nothing less than a cover-up for another lame villain. (If you didn’t know, the Mandarin was actually a ruthless terrorist in the comics. The film was doing an excellent job depicting his character – until they reduced him to a joke! Ah, but that’s a rant for another time.)

Whatever the origin of Ultron ends up being for “The Age of Ultron,” I think it’s clear that Marvel will pull from various aspects of the character’s history in comics. As long as Marvel remains true to the core element of its origins, Ultron will undoubtedly be the Avengers’ greatest threat yet.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” takes over theatres May 1, 2015. Until then, what are your predictions? What do you think of Ultron? Don’t forget to drop a comment and let us know!

Christian Herrera is the Arts and Entertainment editor of The Huntingtonian. He can be reached at herrerac@huntington.edu. 

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