Avengers: Age of Ultron had the monumental challenges of both building on the billion-dollar success of the first Avengers movie, as well as bringing one of the most famous villains into the live-action. The personality of Ultron was supplied (in spades) by actor James Spader, but the look of Ultron was a harder nut to crack. Marvel Studios had to make Ultron as menacing as his Marvel Comics counterpart, without scaring the younger viewers too much. Well, you can probably guess just how many iterations of Ultron's face Marvel went through before the landed on the one we saw onscreen. Today, we have one of the freakier ones they had in the running!
View this post on Instagram
An alternate take on Ultron’s head from Avengers: Age of Ultron. Exploring how to get expressions from overlapping plates. #ageofultron #avengersageofultron #ultron #ironman #marvelstudios #marvel #mcu #conceptart #conceptartist #digitalart #digitalartist #digitalillustration
"An alternate take on Ultron’s head from Avengers: Age of Ultron. Exploring how to get expressions from overlapping plates." --Phil Saunders
As you can see, this version of Ultron retained the expressive facial features, with more of a smoldering (as in literally) look to the energy core innards. What's crazy is just how well Saunders' rendition captures the particular look and mannerisms of James Spader's face, albeit under layers of "overlapping plates" of robotic metal. You can almost hear some of Ultron's best quotables coming out of this sketch's open mouth. It's kind of haunting.
Clearly, this version of Ultron was a bit too arch and evil-looking; the version that we ended up with onscreen captured much more of Spader's off-beat comedic timing and eccentric mannerisms. For better or worse, it was a version that balanced the goal of being menacing and still being palatable to kids - as well as balancing director Joss Whedon's mix of comedy and superhero drama.
Ironically enough, Saunders also did a sketch of Ultron that is almost exactly the opposite of this more personified look you see above. It's a much more comic-accurate look, which highlights Ultron's inhumane robotic side. Check that out, below!
View this post on Instagram
Been on an Ultron kick lately, realized I never posted any of my work here. This was my first and still my favorite. #avengersageofultron #ageofultron #ultron #avengers #avengersassemble #marvel #marvelstudios #marvelvillains #ironman #mecha #mech #conceptart #conceptartist #digitalart #digitalartist #digitalillustration
Ultron is gone from the MCU, but the best part of his legacy lives on in The Vision, who will return in the WandaVision Disney+ series, later this year.
Marvel's updated release schedule sees Black Widow arriving in theaters on November 6th. It is followed Eternals on February 12, 2021, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on May 5 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on November 5, 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on February 18, 2022, Black Panther II on May 6, 2022, and Captain Marvel 2 on July 8, 2022. Disney+ also has The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, What If...? Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight on the way.