Ultron

Last updated on 16 October 2017

Ultron (/ˈʌltrən/) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is most recognized as a nemesis of the Avengers, and has a quasi-familial relationship with his creator Hank Pym. He was the first Marvel Comics character to wield the fictional metal alloy adamantium.[1]

Ultron has been voiced by Tom Kane and by Jim Meskimen in several media adaptations. The character is played by James Spader in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron.[2]

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Ultron2013.jpg

Publication history

The character initially appeared as an unnamed character in a cameo in The Avengers #54 (1968), with a first full appearance in Avengers #55 (1968). Ultron was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema. Thomas, who has acknowledged he finds naming characters difficult, said he liked the -tron suffix and went from there.[3]

Thomas said the idea of the character and his appearance were heavily based on Makino, an obscure robotic villain who appeared in an issue of the Captain Video comic book.[1] He liked the robot's malicious looking smile, and showed it to Buscema.[3]

Fictional character biography

1960s

Although Ultron first appears in Avengers #54 (1968), the character is disguised for the majority of the issue as the "Crimson Cowl", with his face only revealed on the last page of the issue and no name given to the character. The character leads the Masters of Evil against the Avengers, having hypnotized Edwin Jarvis into working for him. In the following issue Avengers #55 (August 1968), the character is identified as Ultron-5, The Living Automaton.[4] In Avengers #57–58 (October–November 1968), a flashback sequence revealed that Ultron created the "synthezoid" Vision as a weapon to destroy the Avengers. The Vision—having Wonder Man's brain patterns—destroys Ultron with the Avengers' aid.[5]

Further flashbacks reveal that Ultron is Hank Pym's creation, and is based on Pym's brain patterns. The robot gradually developed its own intelligence and rebelled, and almost immediately develops an Oedipus complex, whereby it feels irrational hatred for Hank, and demonstrates an interest in the Wasp (Janet van Dyne). Rebuilding itself, learning how to turn itself on, and upgrading five times, Ultron then hypnotizes and brainwashes his "father" into forgetting that the robot had ever existed.[6]

The character's next appearance is in Avengers #66–68 (July–September 1969), where the character, now referring to itself as Ultron-6, uses the fictional alloy adamantium to upgrade his body to an almost indestructible state and takes the new name Ultimate Ultron. His plans to destroy humanity are again thwarted by the Avengers.[7]

1970s

A crossover story between Avengers #127 (Sept. 1974) and Fantastic Four #150 (Sept. 1974) features Ultron (as Ultron-7), recreated by Maximus with the body of the android Omega, attacking the wedding of the Inhuman Crystal and the Avenger Quicksilver, and battling the Avengers, Inhumans and Fantastic Four before being destroyed once again.[8] The character next appears in Avengers #161–162 (July–Aug. 1977) as Ultron-8 where he's responsible for Jocasta's creation as a robotic bride.[9] Shortly afterwards, in Avengers #170–171 (April–May 1978), the Avengers, with Ms. Marvel's aid, battle and defeat Ultron-8.[10]

Avengersv3n20.jpg
Cover of Avengers vol. 3, #20 (Sept. 1999). Art by George Pérez.

1980s

His next appearances are in Avengers #201–202 (Nov.–Dec 1980) as Ultron-9 and in Marvel Two-In-One #92–93 (Oct.–Nov. 1982) as Ultron-10; both appearances feature brainwashed heroes re-creating and then defeating the robotic menace.[11][12] After being briefly recreated as Ultron-11 by the Beyonder and appearing on Battleworld during the Secret Wars,[13] and for a brief encounter with the Thing,[14] Ultron is destroyed again. The Thing, however, does bring Ultron's head back to Earth as a souvenir. Ultron-11's head is dropped and forgotten by the Thing when there is an attack by the alien Dire Wraiths.[15]

A new version, known as Ultron-12, enters into an alliance with the Grim Reaper and the villain's allies (Nekra; the Erik Josten Goliath; Man-Ape and the Black Talon) in a bid to destroy Wonder Man. Although the villains are defeated by the West Coast Avengers, Ultron-12 begins to form a relationship with his "father" Henry Pym.[16] Ultron-12 begins calling itself Ultron Mark 12, in an effort to sound more human.[17] Rebuilding itself, Ultron-11 comes into conflict with Hank and Ultron-12. With Wonder Man's assistance, they destroy Ultron-11. Ultron-12 then deactivates, but tells Pym it was glad it could help save him.[18]

1990s

Doctor Doom rebuilds Ultron using a combination of all of Ultron's previous personalities with a particularly strong dose of Ultron-12, believing this mix will make Ultron subservient. Instead, all 12 iterations coexist as separate personalities, resulting in a form of madness which culminates with Ultron-12 mutilating himself in an attempt to remove some of his other personalities. Karnak, Daredevil and Gorgon destroy Ultron by severing his neck cables.[19]

Another version, known as Ultron-13, appears and is stopped by the West Coast Avengers.[20] After escaping captivity, this version attempts to obtain a new form of vibranium called Nuform, but is repelled by the combined efforts of Iron Man, the Black Panther and Spider-Man.[21] Ultron-11 next briefly appears as a captive of a highly advanced Doombot, but is freed when the Doombot is defeated by Deathlok.[22]

Ultron-13 escapes from prison and upgrades into the Ultimate Ultron (technically Ultron-14), and captures the West Coast Avenger Mockingbird to use Mockingbird's brain patterns to create the new robotic mate Alkhema. Alkhema aids Ultron but both are eventually jettisoned into space through a ruse by the Vision.[23] The character reappears with Alkhema, and together they plan to create a "volcanic winter" by placing bombs underneath several volcanoes. The West Coast Avengers stop the pair once again, and Alkhema rebels and leaves Ultron.[24] Another version, known as Ultron-15, is found by the Vision, but is discovered to have been "infected" by human emotion and is seriously deteriorating, displaying symptoms that resemble alcoholism. This iteration and Jocasta decide to explore the world with the Vision for a time.[25]

IronMan-48.jpg
Ultron takes over Iron Man's armor. Cover of Iron Man vol. 3, #48. (Jan. 2002) Art by Udon.

After a brief cameo appearance as Ultron-17,[26] the character - with the aid of Ultron-16 - slaughters the population of the fictional state Slorenia, having perfected a process that allows it to control a vast army of Ultron drones (mainly made of titanium steel and about a tenth of the army only made of secondary adamantium), while attempting to acquire neural patterns from his 'family'- Pym, Janet, the Vision, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, and the Grim Reaper- to create a new 'family' of robots that would allow him to create a more diverse range of personalities. However, he is finally defeated by the Avengers, Goliath using vibranium against him as he acknowledges his own guilt and self-loathing over his belief that Ultron's twisted persona reflects his own darker thoughts.[27][28]

2000s

The Avengers discovered that Ultron's creations (Vision, Jocasta and Alkhema) have a secret program included - they are subconsciously compelled to rebuild Ultron. In this case, it is Alkhema who unintentionally rebuilds Ultron when attempting to create a new species of bio-synthezoids. However, Ultron-18 is composed of steel not adamantium, and is destroyed when Alkhema's subterranean base exploded after Hawkeye shot Alkhema with a vibranium arrow at Alkhema's request. Ultron's head was recovered by Antigone, an artificial girl and one of the synthezoids.[29]

Iron Man encounters a version from an old version of Iron Man's armor and Ultron-18's head that leads the cult known as the Sons of Yinsen in an attempt to conquest via religion. The character is defeated by Iron Man and Jocasta.[30] Another version (possibly Ultron-13) creates the cyborg Victor Mancha as a sleeper agent against the Avengers. Mancha, however, rebels and joins the Runaways.[31] This version first poses as "Doctor Doom" before revealing itself, and is defeated in a battle against the Runaways and Excelsior.[32]

Femaleultron.PNG
Ultron's female form, as seen on the cover for The Mighty Avengers #2 (July 2007) Art by Frank Cho.

In June 2007, Marvel launched a new title called The Mighty Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Cho. In the first six issue arc, Ultron interfaces with Iron Man's armor, which had been integrated with Tony Stark's biology. This allows Ultron's program to transform Iron Man into a new version who has the Wasp's appearance albeit with a metallic skin. This version takes control of Iron Man's technology. He kills Lindy Reynolds, causing the Sentry to battle Ultron, nearly tearing his head off. This version is eventually destroyed by New Avenger Ares using a computer virus (created by the Skrull agent Criti-Noll impersonating Henry Pym) to wipe Ultron's program from Iron Man's armor, changing Stark back to normal. Ultron's image later briefly appears on one of Pym's computers.[33]

However, this was not the end of Ultron, for his disembodied consciousness was thrown into the depths of space. He spent a few months floating through the cosmos as radio waves and energy. Eventually his signal was picked up by an outlying group of Phalanx who were attempting to contact their parent race, the Technarchy. Fascinated by what he found, Ultron decided that the Phalanx lacked direction from a singular consciousness, and that he would be perfect for the role. Through sheer force of will, he merged himself with the Phalanx's programming. In turn, the Phalanx viewed Ultron as the sympathetic father they had yearned for. Under Ultron’s guidance, the Phalanx began the Annihilation: Conquest by invading the Kree space. Later by taking control of Adam Warlock's body, Ultron hopes to achieve "true techno-organic perfection" but is eventually forced to abandon Adam's body by the Technarchy Warlock and is later destroyed in combat by Wraith and Quasar.[34]

In the limited series Avengers/Invaders, it is revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. Life Model Decoys have been partly replaced with versions of Ultron. When the original Human Torch appears in the present, they covertly parasitize his unique android physiology and become more human. The combined super teams (but mainly the Human Torch himself), however, discover the plan and destroy the androids.[35]

2010s

In the Mighty Avengers, Ultron is shown to infiltrate Jocasta and the Infinite Avengers Mansion. He names himself Ultron Pym and seeks to kill and replace his father before using his Infinite Mansion to conquer the universe.[36] Pym eventually offers Ultron a compromise, allowing Jocasta to become Ultron's bride, on the condition that Ultron banishes himself to ultraspace. Ultron agrees, but warns that he will be ruler of all someday.[37]

In The Avengers, the team visits a possible future in which almost all of humanity is destroyed by Ultron. Kang the Conqueror attempts to enlist them to defeat his robotic foe, but another group of heroes and villains, plucked from all over time and space, ends up destroying this version.[38]

Later, also in Avengers, the Intelligencia, a cabal of super-intelligent supervillains, discover the inert body of a Galadorian Spaceknight and attempt to reactivate its power source, hoping to exploit it. Although the Avengers interrupt their attempts, the body activates, revealing it contains Ultron's consciousness who had escaped destruction after the events of Annihilation: Conquest. The new version escapes and Iron Man gravely foresees that when he returns, it will bring the apocalypse for humanity.[39]

During the Age of Ultron storyline, which takes place in an alternate universe, Ultron has returned and conquers the world while slowly remolding it into his image. His Ultron Sentinels are guarding the streets looking for any fugitives. Hawkeye runs into the Ultron Sentinels as he was rescuing the Superior Spider-Man yet manages to destroy the Ultron Sentinels present.[40] It is later revealed that Ultron is actually in the future and has been using Vision as a conduit to punish humanity.[41] While one strike team travels into the future to fight Ultron, Wolverine and the Invisible Woman go back in time to kill Pym before Ultron's creation in the first place.[42] This results in a world where Tony Stark controls an army of robotic drones and Morgan le Fay has conquered half of the world.[43] Traveling back in time once more, Wolverine succeeds in stopping himself from killing Pym, and Wolverine, Pym and Susan Storm come up with a different plan. This plan results in a different outcome of the prior confrontation between the Avengers and the Intelligencia - a 'back door' installed into Ultron at his original creation allows Hank and Iron Man to destroy the robot, instead, averting the events that led to the "Age of Ultron".[44]

It is later revealed that years earlier, the Avengers had trapped an unidentified iteration of Ultron in deep space after sealing him inside a Vibranium Quinjet. In the present, the Quinjet crash lands on Titan, freeing Ultron. By hijacking the ISAAC computer, he transforms Titan into Planet Ultron, and launches a plan to infect the entire universe with a nanite virus that transforms organic creatures into Ultron Sentries. The ensuing confrontation with the Avengers leads to Ultron inadvertently merging with Hank Pym, transforming them into a human/machine hybrid, the resulting creation playing on Hank's self-loathing of his own human weakness to cause him to accept his new state. He is defeated when Starfox's powers force Ultron to love himself, causing the part of Ultron that is now Hank to accept his old weakness and flaws while the villain has a mental breakdown and flees into space.[45]

As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel branding, Hank Pym/Ultron resurfaced. While on his way back to Earth, Pym helped the crew of a spaceship that was being attacked by a hostile insectoid alien. After coming aboard the spaceship, Hank introduced himself as well as his "friend" Ultron to the crew.[46] He later returns to Earth, where the Wasp and Captain America discover that Ultron has taken complete control and is using Pym's face to fool his maker's old friends.[47] After Ultron incapacitates Deadpool, Cable, and the Human Torch, Wasp initiates the Icarus Protocol and Iron Man is called in to help stop Ultron with the aid of the Hulkbuster Armor.[48] The Avengers end up defeating Ultron by plunging the hybrid into the sun, but both Hank and Ultron survive and continue to do battle with one another internally.[49]

During the Secret Empire storyline, Ultron/Hank Pym had set up a base in a unidentified forest. Upon being alerted by the approach of Sam Wilson's task force by a robot version of Edwin Jarvis, Ultron/Hank Pym decides to give his "family" a warm welcome.[50] When Tony Stark A.I.'s team and Captain America's team confront each other, they are captured by Ultron/Hank Pym who forces both teams to sit at a dinner table. Ultron/Hank Pym argues that he is doing this because the Avengers have become less of a family over the years as so many of them jump to obey Captain America or Iron Man despite past experience confirming that this should be a bad idea, but the Tony Stark A.I. counters that the only reason the team failed as a family was because of Hank Pym's attack on Wasp. Outraged, Ultron/Hank Pym nearly attacks the other heroes, but Scott Lang is able to talk him down by arguing that Hank Pym remains his own inspiration. Ultron/Hank Pym allows the Tony Stark A.I.'s team to leave with the fragment, arguing that he will leave Captain America's plans with Hydra alone as it appears to be the best chance for world peace.[51]

Powers and abilities

The visual appearance and powers of the character have varied, but common powers include superhuman levels of strength, speed, stamina, durability, and reflexes; flight at subsonic speeds; and various offensive weapons such as concussive blasts of energy fired from its optical sensors or hands and an "encephalo-ray", which places victims into a deathlike coma. The latter ray also allows Ultron to mesmerize and mind-control victims, or implant subliminal hypnotic commands within their minds to be enacted at a later time. Ultron also has the ability to convert electromagnetic radiation into electrical energy for use or storage. Ultron has a genius intellect, a capacity for creative intelligence and self-repair, superhuman cybernetic analytical capabilities, and the ability to process information and make calculations with superhuman speed and accuracy. The character is an expert roboticist and strategist.

Ultron's outer armor is usually composed primarily of adamantium, which is almost completely impervious to damage (the first use of the term "adamantium" in Marvel Comics was made in reference to Ultron in Avengers #66, published in July 1969). Most Ultron units are powered by a small internal nuclear furnace and incorporate a "program transmitter" which can beam part or all of Ultron's memory/personality system into other computer systems or duplicate robotic bodies. Ultron can also control other machines remotely. Ultron has occasionally reformed itself with a humanoid appearance above the waist and the appearance of a complex machine, including tractor beam apparatus for flight, below the waist. A later Ultron model developed hive-mind technology, allowing it to animate and control hundreds of other Ultron bodies simultaneously,[52] although only the 'prime' Ultron was composed of adamantium while others were made of steel or secondary adamantium due to the lack of resources to give all the Ultrons adamantium bodies.[53] Ultron also uses an internal molecular rearranger that renders the adamantium components of its workings more malleable and so has the ability to restructure its physical form. What circuitry Ultron has is carefully shielded to protect from damage, although the Scarlet Witch is capable of causing malfunctions with her hex power,[54] Johnny Storm, using his nova burst, managed to damage Ultron's internal circuits while its outer armor remained intact,[55] and Wonder Man was once able to destroy an Ultron by throwing it so hard its internal systems were damaged.[18]

Other versions

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Carlos Pacheco sketching a six-armed version of Ultron

The 1995 limited series The Last Avengers Story features a possible future in which Ultron-59 manipulates fellow Avengers foe Kang the Conqueror into attacking the Avengers. Ultron is destroyed by the Vision, sacrificing his own artificial life.[56]

The Fantastic Four storyline "Death of The Invisible Woman" features an advanced humanoid called Alex Ultron, a member of the futuristic The Last Defenders.[57]

In the Marvel Adventures alternate universe, Ultron is a highly-intelligent "neural network" that controls a section of the United States defense forces.[58]

In Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's 2008-2009 "Old Man Logan" story arc that appeared in Wolverine, Ultron Eight is the husband of Spider-Man's youngest daughter (Ashley Barton).[59]

In the first arc of the fourth Avengers series, Kang wages a war with Ultron in the not-too-distant future which causes the disruption of all time. The cause of the disruption is apparently Kang's recruiting of army after army from the timelines to battle Ultron - all to no avail: Ultron is supreme in this particular future.[60]

The title Avengers Next, set in the alternate universe known as MC2, features an upgraded version of Ultron named Ultron Extreme.[61]

In the Earth-110 reality, Ultron assisted Doctor Doom, Hulk, Magneto, Namor, and the Red Skull in taking over Manhattan.[62]

The Ultimate Marvel version of the character is initially depicted as the Ultron Sentries, a group of robots created by Hank Pym alongside the partner robot Vision II. Although both robots were rejected by Nick Fury, the Ultron Sentries were used helping the Ultimates fight against the Liberators.[63] However, one unit develops an independent mind and emotions as a result of a chance encounter with the Scarlet Witch.[64] This unit appears as Yellowjacket and is in part responsible for Scarlet Witch's murder. Motivated by jealousy after having fallen in love, Yellowjacket's person of romance had feelings only for Quicksilver. Despite being the creator of android duplicates of Ultimates, Yellowjacket/Ultron is ultimately destroyed by its maker.[65]

The 2013 crossover Age of Ultron storyline,[66] involves a post-apocalyptic future in which Ultron has taken over the world and exterminated most of the world's superheroes.[67] After Wolverine and the Invisible Woman try to avert this timeline by killing Hank Pym before Ultron's creation,[68] the resulting worse future prompts Wolverine to go back again and stop his past self killing Pym, instead suggesting that Pym implant a command code in Ultron that will allow Pym to shut the robot down when he reaches a certain level of development.[69]

In the 2014 Original Sin storyline, the Time Gem transports the Avengers to a future where Ultron has conquered the world and created his own team of robotic Avengers to police the remaining human population.[70] This timeline is later revisited when someone posing as Doctor Doom uses his time machine to assemble a team of Avengers from across history to help liberate the planet from Ultron's rule,[71] culminating in the temporally-displaced Avengers defeating Ultron and convincing Doom–in reality a Doombot that worked with the Avengers A.I. team–to bring peace to the world by seeking his own path rather than blindly following Doom's example.[72]

In other media

Television

Film

Ultron Avengers Age of Ultron poster.jpg
Ultron in a character poster for the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Video games

  • Ultron appeared in the arcade game Captain America and the Avengers.
  • Ultron appeared as a boss in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, voiced by James Horan.
  • Ultron appears as a villain character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, voiced by Tom Kenny.
  • Ultron is featured as a boss in Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
  • Ultron is featured as a boss and playable character in Marvel: Contest of Champions. Both the original version and the Avengers: Age of Ultron version can be seen. Ultron Sentries also appear as non-playable characters.
  • Ultron appears as a boss and playable character in Marvel Heroes,[84] with Tom Kane reprising his role from Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
  • Ultron appears as a boss and playable character in Marvel: Future Fight. Both the original iteration and the Avengers: Age of Ultron iteration appears as an outfit change.
  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron iteration of Ultron is featured as a playable character and figurine in Disney Infinity 3.0, voiced again by Jim Meskimen.[85]
  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron iteration of Ultron appears as the final boss and a playable character in Lego Marvel's Avengers. Ultron Sentries also appear as playable characters.
  • Ultron appears as a playable character in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, once again voiced by Jim Meskimen.[86] Ultron also appears in the game's story mode, using the Infinity Stones to merge with Sigma from Mega Man X as "Ultron Sigma".[87]

Reception

Ultron was ranked number 23 by IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Villains list,[88] was listed number 189 in Wizard's Top 200 Greatest Villains Ever list,[89] and was ranked as the 189th Greatest Comic Book Character Ever in Wizard's list of the 200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time.[90]

References

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  3. ^ a b The Hollywood Reporter: "Marvel Legend Reveals What Stan Lee Initially "Hated" About 'Age of Ultron' Breakout"
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  5. ^ Avengers #57 (October 1968)
  6. ^ The Avengers #58 (Nov. 1968)
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  11. ^ Avengers #201–202 (Nov.–Dec 1980)
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  14. ^ The Thing #21–22 (March–April 1985)
  15. ^ Fantastic Four #277 (April 1985)
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