Most Marvel Cinematic Universe fans would probably agree that Age of Ultron is the weakest of the four Avengers movies, one that marked the head-on collision between writer and director Joss Whedon’s push for creative autonomy, and the desire on the studio’s part to ensure that the mandated plot beats were hit and connective tissue established.
It’s not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination, just a disappointment after the soaring highs of The Avengers three years previously. Of course, it still made $1.4 billion at the box office because this is the MCU we’re talking about, but it left plenty of audiences feeling cold once the credits started rolling.
One of the major bones of contention was the title villain himself, although none of the blame was pointed at James Spader’s typically charismatic performance. Ultron is one of the most formidable and deadly villains in comic book history, but he was reduced to a typical Whedon-esque quipper.
In a recent interview with ScreenRant, Marvel’s What If…? creator and lead writer A.C. Bradley explains how the general sense of malaise surrounding Age of Ultron inspired the animated show’s Season 1 finale.
“Well, I think any comic book lover knows Ultron in the comics is absolutely terrifying. Age of Ultron is great but was only one movie and at times, to me, it didn’t seem to give that classic villain enough screen time that I would have given him. We can only fit so much in those movies. This was our opportunity to show what Ultron is capable of. And also, now as we’re hitting Phase 4, we have the Infinity Stones in play, we have the Multiverse, so what would happen if Ultron got the Infinity Gauntlet? How bad would it get? And it’s quite easy to jump to complete devastation!”
Ultron got a much better arc in What If…? than he did in the mega budget blockbuster boasting his name, that’s for sure, with the Guardians of the Multiverse forced into action to try and put a stop to an all-powerful AI with a full set of Infinity Stones and the ability to traverse reality itself.