To Better Know a Villain: Ultron

Ultron FaceFirst Appearance
Avengers #54, July 1968 (unnamed cameo), Avengers #55, August 1968 (full appearance)

Nicknames and Aliases
Crimson Cowl, Ultimate Ultron, Mark 12, Ultron Pym

Powers and Abilities
Ultron is an artificial intelligence capable of learning and evolving. To wit, he builds increasingly stronger and more powerful bodies for himself, usually comprised of some form of adamantium and with a variety of offensive weapons, including an “encephalo ray” which puts people in a death-like coma and gives him the ability to mesmerize or hypnotize foes. Ultron is super-strong, durable and resilient, and capable of converting and storing electromagnetic energy for later use. Ultron is also capable of transmitting his mind/memories into other computer or robotic systems and of controlling other machines remotely.

Additionally, Ultron is a cunning strategist and master roboticist, capable of creating new artificial intelligences himself.

Weaknesses and Achilles’ Heels
Ultron possesses an Oedipal complex giving him an irrational hatred of his “father”, Hank Pym, and an obsession with Pym’s girlfriend/wife, Janet van Dyne.

Friends and Allies
Masters of Evil, Lethal Legion, Sons of Yinsen, Phalanx, Grim Reaper, Nekra, Black Talon

Foes and Antagonists
Hank Pym (his “father”), Wasp (Janet Van Dyne, his “mother”), Vision (his “son”), Jocasta (his “first wife”), Alkhema (his “second wife”), Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff, his “daughter-in-law”), the Avengers.

Movies and Appearances
Ultron has made appearances in most of the Avengers’ major animated series, United They Stand, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and the current Avengers Assemble. He also appeared in the direct-to-DVD animated film Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.

ANimated Ultron

And, of course, Ultron is slated to be the principal antagonist in the second Avengers film, appropriately titled Avengers: Age of Ultron, where he will be voiced and played via motion capture by James Spader.

Movie Ultron

One Sentence Origin
An artificial intelligence created by Avengers founder Hank Pym, based on Pym’s brain patterns, Ultron quickly evolved on his own, developing a hatred for Pym and rebelling to become one of the Avengers’ most dangerous and resilient foes.

Origin

Memorable Moment
Avengers (vol. 3) #19: Ultron takes control of the European nation of Slorenia, slaughtering the entire population.

Ultron Unlimited

Fun Fact
Ultron’s second significant upgrade, in Avengers #66, involves the robot crafting a new body for himself using the super-tough adamantium (the same stuff which lines Wolverine’s bones), which was the first appearance of the metal in the Marvel Universe.

Austin’s Analysis
Teams like the Masters of Evil aside, Ultron arguably holds the strongest claim to the title of the Avengers’ number one foe. He earns that spot thanks to two things. First, he’s formidable enough in terms of power and vulnerability to go toe-to-toe with most incarnations of the team. This is a villain who usually requires an entire team effort to be defeated, not someone who just needs to be delayed until Thor can show up and save the day.

Ultron fight 2

But more importantly, he also has a personal connection to the team from his birth at the hands of Avengers’ founder Hank Pym to the defection of his “son” and later “wife” to the Avengers. This lends the battles against him and the schemes he hatches another layer of gravitas. Coolly logical Ultron is still nevertheless motivated by hatred against his “family”. This having come about at the hands of the Avengers, their efforts to stop him are always made that much more intense by the fact that they feel responsible for the atrocities he commits.

Ultron 11

Loki is a villain who has a personal connection to the team, having been responsible for their creation while trying to destroy his brother, but he’s usually depicted as lacking the raw power or wherewithal necessary to pose a threat to a full assemblage of Avengers, often employing cannon fodder in his efforts (as in the Avengers film, or “Acts of Vengeance”). Kang, meanwhile, is another villain with a valid claim to the top spot of the Avengers’ villain hierarchy. He has the raw power to hold his own against the team, and his ability to travel through time makes him a particularly resilient foe. But he lacks the personal touch of a Loki. He is a conqueror, first and foremost; the Avengers are simply the best equipped to stop his efforts. Ultron, then, combines both elements.

Ultron Throne

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe will soon have a Hank Pym of its own, his role in the creation of Ultron is apparently going to be usurped by Tony Stark in Age of Ultron. While such a move may upset some diehard fans, it’s a logical move: Tony Stark is vastly more significant character in the MCU, even if Ultron were to be held back long enough to position Pym as his creator. More importantly, making Stark responsible for Ultron still keeps the core value of the character intact: that personal connection to the Avengers, that sense that they are personally responsible for any atrocities he commits. Along with his sheer power, it’s that personal connection to the team that makes Ultron a standout member of the Avengers’ Rogue Gallery. As long as its place, regardless of who is specifically responsible for his creation, the essence of the character remains unchanged.

Ultron fight

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