Throughout history, Marvel Comics introduced countless villains to challenge their superheroes and superhero teams, and with the arrival of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many villains were adapted for the big screen and therefore became a part of the mainstream. One of the most formidable villains the Avengers ever faced in the comics was Ultron, a powerful artificial intelligence with a god complex. This villain made his live-action debut in 2015’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ in which he was ultimately defeated. However, there is a certain possibility that Ultron might still be alive in the MCU. In this article, we’ll explain why we think so.
At the end of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ Ultron was ultimately defeated when Vision destroyed the last Ultron robot, ending the threat that the evil artificial intelligence posed for the world. Since then, Ultron hasn’t appeared in the franchise anymore (with the exception of the ‘What If…?’ animated series), and there are no indications that he might still be alive in the MCU. However, since we’re talking about artificial intelligence, it would be easy for Ultron to return since he could’ve stored himself anywhere on the internet. After all, Ultron has returned countless times in the comics, and there are potential MCU projects in the future that would be perfect for his return.
After being the main villain in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ Ultron hasn’t returned to live-action, but he did in the animated series ‘What If…?,’ which featured Ultron as the ultimate villain of the first season after the penultimate episode showed an alternate timeline in which his plan from ‘Age of Ultron’ succeeded. After defeating the Avengers and wiping out all life in the universe, one planet at a time. After defeating the whole universe, he decided to go bigger and attack other universes as well, which put him against the Watcher and the Guardians of the Multiverse.
Ultron would be a perfect villain to return to the MCU now, given the time we live in!
The idea of artificial intelligence going against its creators and the entire humanity isn’t something unusual to see in the movies and pop culture in general. We still remember James Cameron’s ‘Terminator’ franchise which launched the careers of Cameron and the main star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now that we think of it, the ‘Terminator’ franchise incorporated two concepts that superhero movies like to play with now: evil artificial intelligence and time traveling.
Still, long before the ‘Terminator’ franchise kicked off in 1984, the writer Roy Thomas and the artist John Buscema created Ultron, who first appeared as an unnamed character in ‘The Avengers’ #54 in July 1968, and in the next issue, a month later, Ultron made his first named appearance.
In the source material, Ultron was first made by Hank Pym, who created the robot based on his own brain patterns. Things went south when Ultron developed his own intelligence and rebelled against his creator while also developing a god complex.
Of course, many changes had to be made to Ultron’s origin story to fit it into the MCU’s narrative. Since Hank Pym wasn’t introduced in the MCU at the time, the “honor” of creating live-action Ultron was bestowed on Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, which actually makes sense since we’re talking about two equal geniuses here, and the idea of creating Ultron fitted really well into Stark’s plan to create “a suit of armor” around the world.
Even though the story had to be changed and simplified for the movie adaptation, the general idea of Ultron and how he was involved in the creation of Vision was done rather well. In the comics, Ultron used the parts of the original Human Torch (an android who was one of the very first characters Marvel Comics ever introduced) to construct Vision as his weapon to destroy the Avengers before Vision turned on him.
In the movie, however, Ultron created a vibranium body powered by the Mind Stone in which he wanted to transfer himself to become invincible. Fortunately, the Avengers managed to steal the body and integrate Jarvis instead of Ultron, creating Vision, who later assisted the Avengers in defeating Ultron in Sokovia. Ultron wasn’t seen after the Battle of Sokovia; the rest of Vision’s story is history.
Ultron returned to the franchise in the ‘What If…?’ animated series, although the series depicted an alternate timeline in which Ultron succeeded in integrating himself into a Vision body. When Thanos arrived on Earth looking for the Infinity Stones, Ultron easily used the Mind Stone to slice him in half, becoming the ultimate villain in this alternate timeline.
The penultimate ‘What If…?’ episode, titled “What If… Ultron Won?.” is considered the best episode of the first season of the series, and its storyline continued in the season finale in which the Watcher assembled the Guardians of the Multiverse, a group of MCU superheroes, out of which each of them was from a different timeline, to save the Multiverse from Ultron.
That was pretty awesome to see, although it downgraded ‘Age of Ultron’ a bit since we’ve seen how formidable Ultron can be, and it feels wrong that he was only a one-time villain in the MCU. However, that could potentially change in the upcoming MCU projects, especially now that artificial intelligence is all-present. With that considered, Ultron’s return could be used as a good metaphor for a world in which we could theoretically live in a decade or so.
In which MCU projects Ultron could potentially return?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently in Phase 5, which is expected to create a way towards Phase 6, in which we’re expecting the next crossover event, ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, ’in which Kang the Conqueror is set to be the next ultimate villain. However, one of the projects that would be perfect for Ultron to return, and even set up some bigger things in the future for him, is ‘Armor Wars,’ an upcoming movie in which Don Cheadle is set to reprise the role of James “Rhodey” Rhodes, aka War Machine.
‘Armor Wars’ is very anticipated since we recently learned that Rhodes was kidnapped by the Skrulls, and we watched an imposter for a pretty long while, so Rhodey’s story could be equally interesting to see. It’s also worth mentioning that Ultron was re-created during the Secret Wars storyline in 1984. And since we know there are also ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ on the way, there are many possibilities that we could see Ultron in the MCU again.
While ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ wasn’t a bad movie, it feels like MCU could’ve done with Ultron so much more, which ‘What If…?’ series later proved. As we said, there’s a chance that Ultron is still out there somewhere, waiting for his moment to return. It remains to be seen if he’s really going to return. In the meantime, we can always recommend you to read 2013’s ‘Age of Ultron’ comic book storyline by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch.
Have something to add on this topic? Do you think we’ll see more of Ultron in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know in the comments.