I watched Age of Ultron yesterday morning and I’ve spent two days thinking about it and analyzing it. I keep coming back to Ultron, but I suppose that’s because he’s the focal point of the film.
Ultron has always been my favorite Avengers villain and I was ecstatic when It was announced that he would be introduced into the MCU. But I came out of the movie really disappointed in this version of him. I felt like they tried to recreate the success they had with Loki in the first movie, and had violated Ultron in the process. But as I delved deeper I thought about Ultron. Across as many universes as I know the core of Ultron has always been rooted in man’s fear of machines. He’s calculating, emotionless, and all-powerful. What made Ultron my favorite villain is how terrifying he was compared to the other, over-the-top villains. O realize know he was so scary because he wasn’t human. There was no conscience to use against him, there was no soul to reach out to, there was just empty metal.
Then in AoU we’re presented with a humanized Ultron. He has emotions, he develops attachments, his first action after his existence begins is fear. He’s not just Artificial Intelligence or metal, he has a soul. (Now whether it’s an artificial soul or real is a debate for later.)
One of the moments I hated the most was onboard the container ship, when he cut, (man who’s name I’ve forgotten)’s, arm off then showed a mixture of disgust and remorse. He managed to right himself, but he did that through rage, something a machine shouldn’t be capable of. But the more I thought about it, I realize Ultron has shifted because society’s fears have shifted.
Heartless, calculating, death machines aren’t what scare us anymore. What scares us is that something nonhuman can have a soul. That what humans hold so sacred, the thing that sets them apart from everything else that lives can be manufactured. I think that terrifies people because if souls aren’t strictly human anymore, what’s the point of humans?
I believe Ultron’s humanity in this movie is not a poor representation of humanity’s fear of machines, but an astound representation of humanity’s fear of being replaced.