The Untold Truth Of Ultron In The MCU

The Untold Truth Of Ultron In The MCU
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    The Avengers have fought a lot of bad guys over the years.
    But despite having a rogues' gallery as long as your arm, only a handful of villains have
    actually made their way to the big screen.
    And only one of them can even be said to truly be an Avengers villain first and foremost:
    Ultron.
    First appearing in 1968, Ultron has been resurrected again, and again, and again, and again so
    many times that you'd need a master's degree in Marvelology to catalogue them all.
    The character's constant design changes means the talented people in charge of adapting
    him for 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron had their work cut out for them in terms of coming
    up with a great cinematic design.
    Fortunately, Charlie Wen former head of visual development at Marvel Studios was up to the
    challenge.
    Wen sat for an exclusive interview to go over all the ins and outs of designing the movie
    version of the homicidal robot that Marvel fans love to hate.
    When he first appeared in 1968's Avengers #54, Ultron didn't have a name, much less
    any distinct design.
    The issue's story concerns the Masters of Evil teaming up to capture the Avengers with
    the help of secrets provided by the team's butler, Jarvis.
    By the story's end, one of the Masters of Evil's newest members, the Crimson Cowl, is
    revealed to be an unnamed robot decoy, covering for the Cowl's true alter ego: Jarvis the
    butler.
    Then, by the next issue, writer and artist Roy Thomas and John Buscema [byoo-SEM-ah]
    apparently realized that suddenly making Jarvis evil for no actual reason wasn't the best
    move.
    Instead made the random robot — now apparently named Ultron 5, the Living Automaton — the
    true villain all along, who hypnotized the Avengers' faithful butler into temporary betrayal.
    Even with the revelation of this new villain named Ultron 5, readers still wouldn't learn
    much about his actual origins for several issues, specifically Avengers #58.
    There, it's revealed that Hank "Giant Man" Pym was experimenting with creating "synthetic
    life," and built a goofy robot that looked more like the clanking boiler you might have
    in your basement than the mechanical menace he'd become.
    After his initial fight with Giant Man, Ultron somehow erased his science-daddy's memory
    and just jumped through a concrete wall like the Kool-Aid man
    , but with more lasers and
    inexplicable memory-erasing technology.
    Among these first appearances, only a few design elements managed to stick: some swooping
    angled lines on Ultron's face that resemble angry eyebrows, some extraneous metal bits
    that kind of look like robot ears, and a mouth full of chunky robo-teeth.
    Over time, Ultron's defining chompers somehow morphed into a weird, toothy grin.
    As a result, Ultron looks pretty… well, he looks pretty dumb, right?
    Marvel Studios' former head of visual development Charlie Wen, who led the team responsible
    for adapting Ultron to the big screen, more or less agreed:
    "If you look at the comic book Ultron, he looks very simple in the head.
    That's always the feel of it."
    Interestingly, Wen tapped into that idea while creating concept art for a sequence in the
    film after Ultron's coated a new version of himself in vibranium.
    The reason?
    Because even though Ultron looks "simple," he also looks deranged not a quality you want
    to shy away from if you want to make your villain as menacing as possible.
    "We knew that Ultron from Joss Whedon's script at that moment he was sort of going nuttier.
    Even the way he talks.
    Joss really wanted to get an Ultron that just felt like he wasn't right in the head.
    That was trying to come up with a look for that."
    Diehard comic book fans may have been upset that the classic look didn't make it into
    the film on Ultron Prime.
    However, Wen and his team brought the old school comic book robo-grin to the villain's
    henchmen instead.
    The Ultron Sentries are the villain's mechanical representatives who plague the Avengers while
    they try to save Sokovia from complete annihilation.
    Another reason Wen saved the classic Ultron face for the sentries was simple practicality.
    Discussing the classic comic book look for Ultron's face, Wen pointed out the difficulties
    that would come from trying to put it on your main bad guy:
    "You're getting many design challenges here.
    One is how are you going to animate that face?"
    Scrub to 4:56: "You're not going to get a lot of expression from that either.
    He needs to talk.
    He needs to express."
    So it's not surprising that the sentries got the grin, rather than Ultron Prime.
    The Ultron Sentries are basically canon fodder, disposable bad guys the heroes can chew through
    while trying to get to the real villain.
    They didn't need to do much beyond fight and die, meaning that they were the perfect vehicle
    for the classic look.
    Wen and his team had to find lots of new angles, and explore tons of different ideas to bring
    Ultron to the big screen including a much more human-looking version of the mad robot
    villain, which is on display in these three side-by-side images.
    To explain his approach in these concept art images, Wen referred back to some of Ultron's
    most famous lines from his introduction in the film:
    "I was tangled in...strings.
    Had to kill the other guy."
    "Character wise He's more like an evil Pinocchio.
    He's like, 'I want to be alive.
    I want to be a real boy.'
    I mean Ultron wants to be a real person.
    I mean he's becoming more and more real but sort of his circuits are messed up and things
    are getting crossed.
    How do you get that across in his expressions?
    We knew we needed to have a face that can have subtle expression."
    "[...] we did a lot of focus on just how those plates can move, what can make it feel like
    it's expressing in certain ways and how does it form?
    There's so much to try to figure out in that and that's why it took such a long time."
    Ultimately, it's pretty tough to translate a design like Ultron's to the movies, but
    Wen worked to transform the character from a goofy comic book robot to a dangerously
    intelligent foe.
    With that in mind, this concept image clearly communicates the character's intelligence...and
    lurking menace.
    "I really liked an elegant version of Ultron.
    I did some that I felt like were going more towards that, but then in it he also needed
    to really show sort of an instant power from the first read.
    We kind of had something in between.
    Somewhat elegant but also showed enough presence and power."
    That sums up the balance Wen struck in the end: a blend of power and presence that made
    for one of the most unforgettable comic book villains to hit the silver screen.
    Thanos and his fancy glove may be all the rage these days, but don't forget that Ultron
    was nearly too much for the Avengers to handle… and he didn't have a fancy magic glove he
    could use to snap himself to victory, either.
    Check out one of our newest videos right here.
    Plus, even more exclusive Looper videos with Charlie Wen about the creation of the Marvel
    Cinematic Universe are coming soon.
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