The video above is the first teaser for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was first shown during Comic-Con this year. This teaser, and a few casting announcements, are the only things we know about the upcoming sequel, which started filming this week. But is this enough to draw any real conclusions about the plot of the movie? Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m definitely going to give it a shot.
Obviously, this is all speculation, but I should point out that it’s coming from someone who has never read a single Marvel comic. My knowledge of Marvel’s expansive universe is limited to what’s in the movies and some of what I’ve read on other sites like IGN (along with journeys down the rabbit-hole of Wikipedia when I was really just looking for some basic info).
So, that being said, let’s make some guesses.
First I want to talk about Ultron, the villain of the film. I don’t know much about Ultron, but here’s what I can tell you: he’s an evil artificial intelligence in a mechanical body bent on wiping out the Avengers and basically all of humanity. Why? I don’t know, I guess because he’s a comic book villain.
Anyway, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, who you might also know as Ant-Man. What? You don’t know who Ant-Man is? Well I can’t really blame you. I only know who he is because Marvel is doing an Ant-Man movie in Phase 3 (the set of movies following Age of Ultron that will eventually culminate in The Avengers 3).
But wait a second… if Ultron is the villain in Age of Ultron, and Hank Pym won’t be introduced until after that… how could Ultron have a proper origin story? For the answer to that question we just need to turn to the teaser above.
When the teaser first appeared online, I speculated that Ultron would probably be created out of an Iron Man suit. That seems to fit with the video that shows the iconic Iron Man helmet being transformed into Ultron’s head, right? And who in the Iron Man universe could create an artificial intelligence capable of piloting an Iron Man suit by itself?
Oh that’s right… Tony Stark. In fact, he already did just that in Iron Man 3. So naturally I suspected that J.A.R.V.I.S. (Tony’s A.I.) would go rogue, steal a suit, and become Ultron. That makes sense, right? Sure. But then Marvel announced that James Spader had been cast to play Ultron, so that kind of throws a wrench into that plan.
Well, if we’re going to figure this out, let’s look at some basic facts about Ultron as he appears in the comics.
- He’s an evil artificial intelligence
- He kidnaps Jarvis (who is a human butler in the comics) and hypnotizes him to lead the Avengers into a trap
- At one point he steals an Iron Man suit and uses it as his new body
- He creates an android named The Vision to hunt the Avengers
- The Vision eventually joins the Avengers and helps destroy Ultron
OK, so that’s basically everything I know about Ultron. Turns out there are some interesting points here that would make sense in the movie. For one thing, Jarvis and the Iron Man suit both have a direct connection to Ultron’s story. So perhaps there is some merit to the original idea, but it still needs some tweaking.
The final piece to the puzzle came this week when Marvel announced that Paul Bettany would play The Vision in Age of Ultron. The problem here is that Bettany also plays the voice of a character called J.A.R.V.I.S. that runs around with Tony Stark. Boy, this guy really likes playing machines. Unless… he’s just playing one character with two identities (like Tony Stark/Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Captain America, and Bruce Banner/The Hulk).
So here’s how I’m thinking things could play out at this point.
- Tony Stark creates a new A.I. even better than J.A.R.V.I.S. and decides it’s time to replace his ol’ buddy
- The new system becomes self-aware and decides to wipe out humanity under the name Ultron
- Ultron steals an Iron Man suit—and J.A.R.V.I.S., and sets off to kill the Avengers
- Ultron creates a new body for J.A.R.V.I.S and convinces him to turn on Tony and the Avengers as revenge for daring to replace him (or hey, maybe he just reprograms him)
- J.A.R.V.I.S takes the name The Vision and goes off to hunt down the Avengers
- Tony, now without an A.I. companion at all, talks some sense into The Vision and convinces him to rejoin the team because, gosh darn it, he really does need J.A.R.V.I.S. after all, and Ultron was just one big mistake
- The Vision joins the Avengers and turns on his former master, leading to Ultron’s defeat
- Everybody goes out for shawarma
See? All the major plot points are there. An evil artificial intelligence steals an Iron Man suit, kidnaps Jarvis, and manipulates him into turning on the Avengers. He also creates The Vision and provides him with an incentive to fight against the Avengers. Plus the Avengers now have a convincing way to get The Vision to join their side. And of course, Ultron ends up being defeated by his former ally.
It all makes sense now. That last little piece of the puzzle—the same guy playing The Vision and J.A.R.V.I.S.—might be the one piece of info that was needed to put the whole plot together.
Or maybe they won’t do any of this (though I’d be surprised if at least some of this didn’t end up in the story, given how logical it seems).