When you mention “Age of Ultron,” MCU fans will first think of 2015’s movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. But on the other hand, hardcore comic book readers are also familiar with the Age of Ultron comic book miniseries which Marvel Comics published in 2013. Although they share the same name, it’s hard to say that the movie is an adaptation of the comic book considering that movie and comic book have nothing in common apart from the main villain. So, in this article, we’ll dig into all the differences between the Age of Ultron movie and the comic book, focusing on time and place of action.
The movie Avengers: Age of Ultron takes place in 2015, the year it was released. The movie took place in various locations around the globe; New York City, USA; Johannesburg, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; and Sokovia, the fictional country in eastern Europe. The comic book, however, takes place in the present-day (2013, when it was published) but also in the past. The comic book storyline takes place in an alternate universe known as Earth-61112, along with an alternate reality known as Earth-26111, created because of the history-changing. The storyline is happening across various cities in the USA, including New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Austin. The storyline also takes place in Savage Land, Antarctica.
The comic book is more complex and brutal and features more characters than the movie. Some of them haven’t even joined the MCU to this day, let alone at the time when the movie was released. Wolverine, for example, is one of the main characters in the comic book, and Ultron was created by Henry “Hank” Pym, unlike the movie where Tony Stark and Bruce Banner created Ultron. Let’s be clear; we’re not speaking ill of the Age of Ultron movie (we actually find it very underrated). Still, just like in Civil War’s case, the differences between the movie and comic book were so big and interesting that comparing them was really fun.
In the comics, Ultron wasn’t created by Tony Stark.
If you’re familiar with Age of Ultron only through a movie (although it’s hard to call it the “Age”), you probably think that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner were the original creators of Ultron. That’s where you’d be wrong. The character of Ultron first appeared in The Avengers comic book in 1968.
Writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema brought the character to the comic book pages. According to Ultron’s origin story, he was created by Hank Pym, who created the robot called Ultron based on his brain patterns. But as it usually goes, due to Pym’s genius intellect, Ultron developed its own intelligence and rebelled against him and the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
The Age of Ultron comic book deals with time travel and alternate realities.
The context of the Multiverse is now very popular in the superhero genre in both comics and movies. That’s because the Multiverse and alternate realities provide an opportunity to expand the lore and make hundreds of other stories that might or might not affect the mainstream reality, depending on how the writers prefer it.
We can use the Loki series as an example. On the one hand, the series is set outside of the MCU’s main timeline, so whatever happens in the series doesn’t need to affect the main timeline unless the writers decide otherwise to, for example, introduce a new villain to the main timeline. You see where we’re going with this, right?
While Avengers: Age of Ultron is very loosely based on the source material, the movie is also very flowing and straightforward with its story. On the other hand, the comic book deals with time travel and multiple realities, which MCU didn’t experience until 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. The Age of Ultron story in the comics begins in present-day on Earth-61112, where New York City is already in ruins after Ultron’s conquest to take over the world, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are hiding in a hideout beneath Central Park where they’re trying to come up with a plan to defeat Ultron and save the Earth.
Thanks to She-Hulk and Luke Cage’s heroic sacrifice, the Avengers learn that Ultron is actually attacking the present from the future. The Avengers meet with Nick Fury, who plans to use Doctor Doom’s technology to travel into the future and defeat Ultron before he attacks the present.
Iron Man, Captain America, Nick Fury, Red Hulk, Storm, Quake, and Quicksilver agree to go into the future, but the Wolverine has his own secret plan; he wants to travel to the past and kill Hank Pym to prevent him from ever creating Ultron.
Wolverine travels to the past, but he’s also followed by the Invisible Woman, who tries to convince him that killing Pym isn’t a solution. Regardless, Wolverine kills Pym, ensuring that Ultron was never created, but he also unleashes a new alternate reality known as Earth-26111, where the Kree-Skrull war came to Earth, and Morgan le Fay conquered half the world. After the battle against Le Fey, where most heroes are killed, the dying cyborg Iron Man tells Wolverine not to go into the past again to correct his mistake because time will break apart if he messes too much with it.
Regardless, in the past, when Wolverine tries to kill Pym, a new Wolverine arrives and stops him. Pym decides never to make Ultron, but Wolverine realizes that Ultron must be created to preserve the timeline from the present day. Instead, Pym decides to install a fail-safe that could easily destroy Ultron when the right time comes.
Months before Ultron’s attack, the Avengers attacked Inteligencia, which was the event that caused Ultron’s initial activation. After Ultron served his purpose in that event so that history wouldn’t change for the worst again, Pym gives Iron Man an algorithm that eventually destroys Ultron.
Wolverine and the Invisible Woman return to the present day to find New York back to normal, but although it may seem as such, some changes due to history-changing couldn’t have been avoided. Pym, after realizing everything that happened because of his work, first thinks about suicide. Still realizing that the future without ever creating Ultron was way worse than the one in which Ultron was created, Pym decides to fight for the world again as Ant-Man. The epilogue leads into the events of Avengers A.I., a storyline that ran for 12 issues between 2013 and 2014.
We’ve only given a quick recap of the comic book storyline, but just in Civil War’s case, you can see that the movie and the source material are nothing alike apart from the fact that they share the same name. But that’s how MCU is doing it, Feige tends to name a movie after some known storyline, but the movie’s story will always be heavily adapted to fit into the MCU’s narrative. We also know that Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars comic books also exist, but who knows how different the upcoming movies will be, considering how MCU is setting up the next crossover event.