Hardcore Marvel comic book fans may be disappointed when they finally see Avengers: Age of Ultron and realize that the title villain is quite a bit different than he appears on the printed page. That was a conscious decision by director Joss Whedon, who felt that the Ultron character played by James Spader needed a spin unique from what has come before it. SFX Magazine recently spoke with Whedon, who described his take on the angry robot, and how he went into crafting a villain that would work on the big screen.
"You know, he's really been a mainstay of 'The Avengers' [comics], but for me it's a robot who's angry. And that was a gateway for me to a robot who's completely irrational. I wanted to write a robot that we really haven't seen in this kind of movie, who can basically talk all the logical robot things, but then has hissy fits! He also has a real perspective on who the Avengers are, and a real beef with them. He's not a straw man. The thing that worked about Loki was that he was able to get inside everybody's head a little bit, and Ultron, he's got the same thing. He knows pretty much everything there is to know about these guys. The only way you can attack Earth's mightiest heroes is from within."
Whedon goes onto reveal that he really did not sit down with the Marvel comics to pull inspiration from them. He had a sense for who Ultron was as a character, and decided to bring his own unique spin to that idea:
"I didn't go back to them at all. You know, he was an angry robot. Angry all the time! That's one of the things that drew me to him - this guy's angry! Angry for like 50 years! You know, they reinvented him in Ultimates and stuff. At one point he was a beautiful woman... I'm not doing that one! I loved him when I read the comics as a kid, because of the scope and the sci-fi and what the team was going through, but I never looked to Ultron himself in the comics for why I love Ultron. I had an idea that I sort of extrapolated from that, so in that way he's sort of a new guy. But he's been a tricky one to nail down. Not because the voice eluded me, but just in terms of 'How much of his agenda is he revealing? How much of his agenda does he even understand?' And then of course there's the inevitable over-explaining that we do in these things, where you're watching and you're like 'Okay, he said it enough, people know!'"
Whedon then went onto talk about James Spader's performance as Ultron. It sounds like this might be a career defining character for the 80s icon who has stuck around just as long as contemporary Robert Downey Jr., who found new fame and fortune when he decided to take on the legendary role of Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man:
"Everything I've ever given to Spader he's just knocked out of the park. But - and James and I talked about this - every now and then he'll have to do a non sequitur. And James is like 'I have to pull out this emotion from something that's not happening in this scene!' But that's who Ultron is. He's clicking on all these different cylinders. And James really took to it. It means that you can pretty much say anything sometimes! He's very much en scene, but at the same time, if he doesn't have a little bit of free associative lateral now and again, he's not going to be as much fun."
What do you think? Do you like the fact that Ultron has been altered from the Marvel comic books? Or where you hoping for a villain that was more in line with what has come before in the Marvel Universe? I guess we really can't form a true opinion until we see the movie when it opens this summer.