Joss Whedon Explains His Changes To Ultron In Avengers: Age Of Ultron



Joss Whedon – associate Grand Master of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – recently spoke to Empire Magazine about the changes he has made to Ultron for his upcoming sequel, Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

For those who don’t know, the titular villain is a living automaton – a powerful artificial intelligence that can rebuild itself, learn and influence the actions of others. The villain repeatedly uses the fictional metal adamantium to improve itself to the point of near-indestructibility. However, what works well in the comic book world does not necessarily lend itself to a completely faithful adaptation on the big screen.

It takes a particular level of confidence to make adjustments to comic book characters, given the vehemence of reactions that tend to spill forth across the internet – but Whedon is in possession of an advantageous combination of intimidating talent and a deep understanding of storytelling and character. According to the director, the main alterations he has made involve the powers of Ultron. In the comic books, he is essentially an unbeatable foe – having strength, intelligence, and the ability to transfer his consciousness anywhere at any time. For the filmmaker, this required adjustment for the big screen, and he is more than prepared to explain why.

“The powers in the comic books – they’re always like, ‘And then I reverse the polarity of your ions!’ – well, we have to ground things a lot more. With Ultron, we have to make him slightly less omnipotent because he’d win. Bottom line. Also, having weaknesses and needs and foibles and alliances and actually caring what people think of him, all these things, are what makes him a character and not just a tidal wave. A movie about a tidal wave can be great, but it’s different than a conflict between one side and the other.

“When Ultron speaks, he has a point. He is really not on top of the fact that the point he’s making has nothing to do with the fact that he’s banoonoos. And that he hates the Avengers for bringing him into this world, and he can’t really articulate that or even understand how much he hates humanity. He thinks he’s all that. That guy is very fun to write. He combines all the iconic stuff. The powers he has are slightly different – he can control certain things, he’s not just firing repulsors.”

The powers of Ultron are not the only change, however. The progress of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole has meant that the origin of Ultron also required some tweaking. In the source material, Ultron is the creation of Hank Pym – a character that will soon find onscreen fame of his own in Ant Man. The development of an Ant Man movie meant that the inclusion of Pym in Avengers: Age Of Ultron was simply not feasible, in terms of quality storytelling.

“Of all the heat I’ve ever taken, not having Hank Pym was one of the bigger things. But the fact of the matter was, Edgar had him first, and by virtue of what Edgar was doing, there was no way for me to use him in this. I also thought it was a bridge too far. Ultron needs to be the brainchild of the Avengers, and in the world of the Avengers, and the MCU, Tony stark is that guy. Banner has elements of that guy – we don’t really think of him as being as irresponsible as Tony Stark, but the [man] tested gamma radiation on himself, with really terrible, way-worse-than-Tony-Stark results.”

“It didn’t make sense to introduce a third scientist, a third sciencetician, to do that. It was hard for me – because I grew up on the comics – to dump that, but, at the end of the day, it’s a more interesting relationship between Tony and Ultron if Tony was once, like, ‘You know what would be a really great idea?’ They’re doing what they always do – which is jump in headfirst, and then go, ‘Sorry, world!” But you have to make it their responsibility without making it their fault.”

So, there we have it – or at least we will, when Avengers: Age Of Ultron is released on April 23rd in the U.K., and May 1st in the U.S. Ultron has changed, but with the character and story in the hands of Joss Whedon, worry is not required. He’s got this.

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