As the all-important date of May 1st, 2015 draws closer, more and more is being revealed about the highly anticipated Avengers: Age Of Ultron. We’ve had creepy trailers, high resolution images, and now comes the official confirmation that Andy Serkis – long rumoured to be involved – will indeed by playing Ulysses Klaw.
Ulysses Klaw is a Marvel supervillain who first appeared in the comic books within the Fantastic Four series in 1966. As a physicist working in Applied Sonics, he is obsessed with his design of a machine that converts sound into mass, and he steals the power source needed to complete it – a metal vibranium. The metal is a rare substance, found only in the fictional nation of Wakanda. Klaw’s theft sets him at odds with the ruler of Wakanda – T’Chaka – and Klaw murders him. This cold-blooded killing incurs the wrath of T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, whose quest for revenge gathers momentum once he becomes the superhero Black Panther.
Clashes between Klaw and T’Challa (Black Panther) lead to Klaw losing his hand, which he eventually replaces with a sonic emitter that can create any creature he desires. He also develops the ability to turn himself into pure sound. The comics see Klaw freed from imprisonment by the Crimson Cowl – also known as Ultron. All of these connections within the source material suggest that Ulysses Klaw is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to stay – not least with the planned production of a Black Panther movie in 2017, starring Chadwick Boseman in the title role.
The arrival of Andy Serkis in the realm of the Marvel movie franchise has something of an air of inevitability to it. There is rarely a franchise in which he does not feature – with his extraordinary list of credits including The Lord Of The Rings series, the 2011 Planet Of The Apes series, The Hobbit series and, most recently, the re-booted Star Wars series. He is renowned for his work in performance capture and indeed is on board Avengers: Age Of Ultron in front of the camera, and behind it, as Motion Capture Consultant.
Speaking to The Daily Beast back in August 2014, Serkis explained how his company had been assisting the Avengers: Age Of Ultron production with Hulk.
“The difference for Mark [Ruffalo, playing Hulk] this time around is that the Imaginarium, which is our performance-capture studio in London that’s providing all the performance capture for the Avengers movie, is providing education. Previously, he would’ve walked onto a set and you’ve got Thor and all the other characters in their costumes looking magnificent, and then you’d have Mark in a grey motion-capture suit playing this enormous character, so it’s about giving the actor the right atmosphere and credibility for the performance, which we did in a number of ways. We had to educate the director that the actor owns the role, and what you get on the set is what you should be aiming to put into your cut as the final performance — with the rendering coming later on.
“Also, we worked with Mark in really grounding him and playing with the digital avatar before going on set so he could see himself as the Hulk before going onscreen, and we put weights and inhibitors on him to give him the sense that his arms were these big, giant wrecking balls, and so that his biceps wouldn’t intersect with his body. We equipped him. We also gave him a sound system and pitch-modulated his voice so you could hear the enormous Hulk roar coming out of these speakers, so the crew would go, “Jesus! That’s Hulk on set!” It gives Mark the sense of feeling better, and if he feels better, then he’ll be more comfortable in the performance.”
Serkis also touched upon – in the vaguest of terms at the time – the subject of his involvement as a cast member.
“I was really thrilled that Joss Whedon asked me to be involved. It’s fantastic. I’ve had a ball working with them, both as performance capture consultant through the Imaginarium, but also being asked to be in it. But I can’t say anything more!“
But, that was then, and this is now – and now, it is official. Andy Serkis will play Ulysses Klaw in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and presumably, beyond.