Following the massive success of "Marvel's the Avengers," creating a sequel that could somehow outdo the new reigning champion of summer blockbusters seemed like a daunting task. But longtime Avengers fans knew that there was one villain who could easily keep the superteam on their toes: Ultron.
"Avengers 2" director Joss Whedon proved to be on the same page as the fans when he revealed the sequel's subtitle: "Age of Ultron." The writer/director opened up about his plans for the sequel in a lengthy interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"I knew right away what I wanted to do with him," said Whedon. "He's always trying to destroy the Avengers. Goddammit, he's got a bee in his bonnet. He's not a happy guy, which means he's an interesting guy." But for those out there expecting Ultron to be a run-of-the-mill robot villian, then you don't know Whedon. "He's got pain. And the way that manifests is not going to be standard robot stuff."
Part of humanizing a ruthless villain like Ultron includes stripping away some of his powers, especially considering the less fantastical — but still heightened — world Whedon hopes to create in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"We'll take away some of those powers because at some point everybody becomes magic, and I already have someone who's a witch," explained Whedon, referencing new addition to the team, Scarlet Witch.
But who exactly is Ultron, and why should the Avengers fear him? Let's take a look at five facts about Ultron.
Like any artificial intelligence, Ultron had to be created by someone. In the Marvel Comics source material, that someone is founding Avenger Hank Pym, whose creation got away from him in the worst way in 1968's "Avengers" #54. Creating his super-team's ultimate bad guy weighed heavily on Hank's conscience, especially since he modeled Ultron's brain after his own. But don't expect to see Pym in "Avengers: Age of Ultron"; Whedon has revealed that Pym plays no part in his movie, leading many to believe that Robert Downey Jr.'s character Tony Stark will be the evil robot's creator. Don't feel bad for Hank Pym, though, because he's set to be the star of 2015's other Marvel movie, "Ant-Man."
When you're able to hold your own against the unified might of Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk, you have to have an impressive set of powers. Thankfully for Ultron, he was outfitted with extremely heightened levels of strength, stamina, durability, speed and reflexes in addition to being able to fly and shoot concussive energy blasts. The robot can even use his "encephalo-ray" to take control of his enemies' minds. As if all of that didn't make him powerful enough, Ultron's outer shell is coated in the unbreakable metal called adamantium — the same metal that covers Wolverine's claws.
If you thought Loki had family issues, wait until you get a load of the comic book version of Ultron. In addition to having his creator's brain waves, Ultron developed an unhealthy obsession with Hank Pym's wife, Janet Van Dyne — the Avenger also known as the Wasp. This obsession led the evil robot to create a bride for himself with a brain patterned after Wasp's, and later led Ultron to create a new body for himself that actually looked like Wasp. Ultron also has his "father's" knack for creation, as he's created two other robot entities that have gone on to be heroes: the Avenger named Vision, and Victor Mancha, a teenage member of the Runaways.
Unlike other comic book villains who escape certain death through trickery, Ultron has a literal built-in excuse: he rebuilds himself after every defeat. The original model identified himself as "Ultron-5, the living automaton" when he first menaced the Avengers back in 1968. The character has gone on to evolve up to Ultron-18, including versions that utilized technology cobbled together from Tony Stark's Iron Man armor and one that became the ruler of the tech-based alien race called the Phalanx.
Age of Ultron
The Avengers sequel may share a name with this Marvel Comics event from earlier this year, but Joss Whedon has assured that the comparisons can stop there. This comic book event takes place on Earth following an Ultron-led apocalypse, where most of the planets heroes are either dead or on the run from fleets of patrolling Ultron robots. The surviving good guys then concoct a morally questionable plot involving time travel in the hopes of righting the robotic wrongs. Don't expect to see Robert Downey Jr. and company wandering through an urban wasteland in the sequel, though, since it's an entirely original story.
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" hits theaters in 2015.