Some MCU Fans Didn’t Like Ultron Because He Wasn’t the Villain They Were Expecting

Fairly or unfairly, the second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, has become the red-headed stepchild of Avengers movies — the one that people are really fond of, even if it is kind of different and just isn’t as monumental as the other Avengers movies. What’s a primary reason for that? Ultron himself, to hear some fans tell it. 

Marvel Studios has often faced criticism for not having great villains — a criticism that has quieted after some of the more recent villains in movies like Black Panther and the Avengers two-hander of Infinity War and Endgame.

Ultron generally is not seen as in their class, even if his movie has been reevaluated. 

Who was Ultron? 

Actor James Spader
Actor James Spader | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Having dispatched Loki and his alien army in their first movie, the Avengers found it harder to wrap their arms around the villain of their second movie. That’s because that villain wasn’t a person or even a physical being. 

Ultron was created by Tony Stark as sort of a defense system for earth – an artificial shield for the planet. Shield in lowercase. Unfortunately, as with a number of Tony’s schemes, Ultron had a lot of unintended consequences. He started out as a sort of an evil counterpart to JARVIS, Tony’s AI that was based on his family’s butler.

Ultron proved to be much more nefarious, putting his consciousness into Iron Man-like machines to give him a physical form. 

Tony and Bruce Banner, in turn, came up with Vision, which was more or less JARVIS as a sentient being. He had not only Paul Bettany’s voice, but his face too, and he became an important member of the team who helped put Ultron in his place. 

What do fans say about Ultron?

On the MCU forum at Reddit fans considered Ultron as a villain and as a movie. Many people saw him and the movie positively, with one fan saying, “Because [James] Spader.

The film could have been better, sure (editing issues, makes it a bit choppy at times), but overall I like it more than most seem to.”

Still other fans had issues, though. One said, “it’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s just how he was teased in all of the trailers beforehand as this menacing, terrifying piece of AI that would destroy the planet didn’t pan out to the actual movie as he ended up being this Tony Stark rip off. James Spader was outstanding though.” 

Another fan concurred, saying, “I came in expecting something really dark and understated yet serious. What we got was very good, but light-hearted and quippy, much like a mirror of Iron Man. I just wasn’t looking for that. Even all these years later, I still can’t get over that expectation. I recently rewatched this, hoping time would have made it better or at least different, but not really.

Where does Ultron rank among MCU villains?

Collider ranked the MCU villains, with Iron Man 2’s Whiplash bringing up the rear, while Loki led the pack, based mostly on the original Avengers movie. Thanos comes in at number four, behind the Vulture in Spider-Man Homecoming, Killmonger in Black Panther and Loki. We can only wonder if they would have disappeared in the snap. 

As for Ultron, Collider places him relatively high at number 9, writing, “Ultron is essentially Tony’s legacy in humanoid form, and this is a story of a son denying his father and carving out a legacy of his own.

While the visual design of the character is a bit underwhelming, his motivations and Shakespearean-like dialogue are delectable, and Spader makes a meal of it.”

Even the red-headed stepchild of a movie gets some love somewhere.