The pressure's on Joss Whedon to deliver the blockbusting goods with next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron. The film is the follow-up to Whedon's blockbusting Avengers Assemble, a film which generated a mammoth $1 billion at the global box office and succeeded where many expected it to fail: balancing a superpowered ensemble of iconic Marvel characters.
Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye all return for Age of Ultron. But there's another character who's possibly generating even greater levels of excitement: villainous antagonist Ultron, an artificial intelligence created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who ends up threatening the entire world.
He's voiced in smoothly creepy style by Blacklist actor James Spader, always a dab hand at playing unpleasant characters. Speaking to IGN from the London set earlier this summer, Whedon explained that Ultron is a morally complex bad guy.
"Hopefully, you will come out of this, if not agreeing with him, then getting him," the director said, "and getting his pain, which leads to a lot of damage, and some humor... You want to feel like he will never understand that he’s not the hero."
Adding that Ultron "feels a certain distance from humanity", Whedon went on to explain that the process of filming Spader as the character in fact helped emphasise Ultron's sense of isolation. "He then did a scene with Scarlett [Johansson]. But she did not look him in the eye because she was looking up in his eye line, nor could he see her because he had two lights shining in his face, and he had his glasses on. Therefore, he [Spader] has a certain distance from humanity, too."
Fingers crossed that Ultron will be a worthy foe for our bickering superhero ensemble. Avengers: Age of Ultron is released on 24th April 2015. Click here to read the full IGN interview with Joss Whedon.