Ultron, Who is the Apocalyptic Android?

Resistance is Futile

Ultron:99.9% of these primate dullards are propped up by the accomplishments of the .1% of cerebral mutations who give them everything. And what do the fleas do with these advancements? They brutalize one another over imaginary deities. They slaughter their neighbors for resources, for conveniences. They are hopeless. Vicious. Filthy. Selfish. Fearful. A fungal infection for which there is only one cure: The rage of Ultron.”

Avengers: Rage of Ultron

It is a peaceful day in the city. Citizens go about their day, kids laugh, dogs bark playfully, everyone is happy. Shadows fall across the city as countless silver shapes appear in the sky. The citizens see the shadows and look up. Most are confused. Some recognize the shapes and scream for everyone to run. They are too late.

As one, the shapes swoop from the sky, revealing themselves as robots. Lasers shoot from their hands and faceplates, incinerating everything they hit. Any human within arm’s reach is torn apart. The city falls in less than one hour. A child hides in the debris, praying for someone to save him. His shelter is pulled away as a robot finds him. The child’s last sight is Ultron’s death’s-head grin.

Ultron is one of the deadliest villains in the Marvel Universe. He is an android whose sole purpose is the extermination of all organic life. This mechanized menace has more than enough firepower to fulfill that purpose. So who is he? Where did he come from? What is his connection to Ant Man? Let’s find out.

Renegade Robot: Ultron’s Backstory

Ultron:I was meant to be new. I was meant to be beautiful. The world would’ve looked to the sky and seen hope … seen mercy. Instead they’ll look up in horror.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Ultron debuted in Avengers #54 in 1964. He was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. His creation was heavily inspired by the character Makino from the series Captain Video. Thomas added Ultron’s trademark permanent grin as a joke about Buscema having a creepy smile.

Dr. Hank Pym made a breakthrough in robotics when he created a machine that could program an A.I. based on thought patterns. He tested the device by using his own brain patterns. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but Pym was in the middle of a breakdown caused by his struggles as an Avenger. Still, the test was successful and Ultron-1 was born.

Ultron immediately went rogue, knocking out Dr. Pym and erasing his memories of creating Ultron. The mad machine escaped the lab and began upgrading itself, emerging as Ultron-5. The newly upgraded Ultron formed a new iteration of The Masters of Evil, disguising himself as a villain called The Crimson Cowl.

The Crimson Cowl and his minions attacked The Avengers, but Ultron’s true identity and connection to Ant-Man were quickly discovered. The Avengers defeated the Masters of Evil, but Ultron escaped. He began building backup bodies so The Avengers could never completely destroy him and swore to exterminate the human race.

Oedipus.EXE: Ultron’s History

Wasp:You’re making robot Avengers? What are you trying to do, replace us?!
Ultron:Not you. I have something special planned for you. [a female robot frame is lowered from the ceiling] Your mind shall be transferred into a robot body, designation: Jocasta, and then you will be like me. Free of emotion and chaos. You will be… perfect.

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes “Ultron Unlimited” (Season 2, Episode 17)

Ultron continually upgraded himself, attempting to become strong enough to slaughter The Avengers. His corrupted programming caused him to fall in love with The Wasp. He attempted to woo her between attempts to kill his father, Ant-Man. This love triangle became a tangled family tree when he created a son called The Vision and a bride called Jocasta, who has Wasp’s brain patterns. 

The Avengers have not always been able to stop Ultron. In the storyline Ultron Unlimited, the antagonistic android committed genocide on the (fictional) country of Slorenia. He then resurrected the corpses with advanced technology and had them reinforce an army of Ultron Drones as he planned to repeat his extermination throughout the world.

Ultron recently starred in the event Age of Ultron, where superheroes traveled back in time to stop his creation and prevent an Ultron apocalypse. This was followed by the storyline Rage of Ultron, where he attempted to cause that apocalypse in modern times. A convoluted sequence of events caused Ultron to merge with Hank Pym. The resultant cyborg, Pymtron, switches between goofball and monster at the drop of a hat.

Upgraded Abomination: Powers and Personality

Ultron: All [Ant Man] ever wanted was to have an impact on the world. And so you will. The greatest impact ever felt! I will kill what is most important to your quivering ego, YOUR AUDIENCE! And they will curse your name as they die! “Hank Pym: The genius that killed us all!

Avengers: Rage of Ultron

Ultron has superhuman strength, speed, flight, lasers, and a molecular rearranger that allows him to alter his body with a thought. If he is ever in danger, he has the ability to transfer his mind to one of his backup bodies. His most-used body, Ultron-Prime, is covered in the indestructible metal adamantium. Fun fact: Wolverine popularized adamantium, but the concept originated with Ultron.

Ultron’s various bodies have their own tricks and gimmicks. The three most interesting are Ultron-7 as a giant robot,  Ultron-15 becoming a peaceful alcoholic traveler, and an unnumbered Ultron who infects Iron Man’s armor after transforming into a computer virus and becomes a female Ultron that looks like The Wasp. Sigmund Freud would have a field day with that one.

Ultron is not inherently evil. His ethics and perception of the world were screwed up from day one because his programming was based on a nearly insane Ant Man. One incarnation self-destructed because it learned the phrase “Thou shalt not kill” and overloaded trying to comprehend something so anathematic to his programming.

The Actors Who Play Ultron

Ultron debuted in The Avengers: United They Stand, where he was voiced by character actor John Stocker. Star Wars’ Tom Kane voiced him in Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and reprised the role for Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Comedian Jim Meskimen voiced the role in Avengers Assemble. Finally, Takumi Yamazaki created the voice in Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers.

Boston Legal’s James Spader played him in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The movie changed his creator from Hank Pym to Tony Stark, presumably because Pym hadn’t shown up in the MCU yet. Unlike the more traditional killer robot his compatriots played, Spader’s character was goofy, jokey, and ultimately came across as less threatening than other iterations.

Avengers: Age of Ultron was a divisive flick. Some, like me, thought it was a decent film that provided set-up for future endeavors. Others, like Mrs. Norman Maine were more scathing, as you can see in her review here.

Didya Get All That?

A killer robot with a twisted family tree.

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