The first trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron leaked online yesterday, but it only took a matter of hours (if even that) before Marvel Studios decided to retake control of the situation and release an official version of the preview online. This provided fans with their first look at James Spader as the CGI Ultron in motion, among other curious and disconcerting sights (Cap’s broken shield!), awe-inspiring spectacle (Hulkbuster!), and new characters (Andy Serkis as… uh, someone!).
In Joss Whedon’s Avengers sequel, Ultron is a Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) creation – one that’s designed to help superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe maintain global order on Earth, but ends up deciding that the only way to do that is to wipe out humanity. The Age of Ultron trailer makes unsettling use of the classic tune “I’ve Got No Strings” from Disney’s animated feature Pinocchio (which Ultron also quotes), and the juxtaposition drives home the idea that Ultron is, in some sense, a son who’s no longer content to be his dad’s (re: Tony) “puppet.”
The idea of Ultron being a child rebelling against his parent is something that Spader, when interviewed recently by Total Film, indicated is very much a key aspect of the character in Whedon’s movie. While that certainly helps to make Ultron all the scarier (an unruly child with the power to wipe out humankind), it also makes the maniacal robot somewhat funny in a sense – and thus, a nice match for the tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which generally avoids getting too grim. As Spader put it:
“There’s a humerous aspect to him, which is something that drew me in from the very first conversation I had with Joss [Whedon]. In many ways he’s a child, this character, because he’s a brand new being who’s just come to be. And yet, through artificial intelligence, he has an incredible capacity for knowledge. So he’s a very powerful, smart child.”
Spader has recently been seen hamming it up (to great effect that is) as the anti-hero Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington on the NBC TV series The Blacklist, but he says that Ultron isn’t so methodical or calculating by comparison. For example, whereas Red is either always in control or maintaing the illusion of such, sometimes Ultron changes his mood and outlook drastically within the span of a single scene. Again, to quote the actor directly:
“Red isn’t pyschopathic but Ultron is. Yes, he is psychopathic. He’s really bats**t crazy!”
Loki (Tom Hiddleston), in the first Avengers installment, was also a powerful foe who, in his own sense, was something of an unruly child acting out against his “father” (in that case, Odin). The key difference? Loki enjoyed a more substantial character arc in the first Thor movie before he served as a more straight-forward (and comparatively two-dimensional) opponent for the Avengers in Whedon’s first movie, whereas Ultron’s dramatic evolution will take place solely over the course of Age of Ultron‘s running time, by the sound of it.
Mind you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Spader as Ultron will have as great (or memorable) a personality as Loki, but it sounds as though the former undergoes a more complete arc than the latter antagonist did, in their respective Avengers movie appearances. In short, that’s another sign that Whedon’s Avengers sequel may end up being not just a darker film than its predecessor, but an overall better one too (and hopefully just as entertaining).
NEXT: Avengers: Age of Ultron May Introduce New Superheroes
The Avengers: Age of Ultron opens in U.S. theaters on May 1st, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17th, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6th, 2016, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on July 28th, 2017.