Monday, December 13, 2021

Kang Sets the Table for a Much Worse Threat's Inevitable Return to the MCU

by Germar Derron

Disclaimer: This is not something I'd normally write. But I may be writing for another site now, and they have me doing many many samples, pitches, trainings . . . .  And I just hate for content to be wasted. So, I'll post it here.


Ultron's introduction to, and apparent dismissal from, the MCU came very quickly. And even in that brief tenure, the film and villain, did just enough wrong to forever reign as the least loved Avengers' film. Fans complained about Ultron's humanity, severely diminished threat level, and lack of connection to Hank Pym. Like any good (bad) artificially intelligent threat, Ultron's innate danger is inextricably tied to an efficiency first method of problem-solving, and a black-or-white understanding of the world. And that's why when any AI gets tasked with making the world a better place, they start by killing all humans. In a world as connected as—and where digital devices are as ubiquitous as—the 21st century, Ultron deserved to be a trilogy-level threat. Maybe, he's much more than that. Ultron's not dead; he's dormant.

In the loosely connected, but not MCU, but maybe everything's the MCU because “multiverse,” series What If . . . ?, the heroes stopped Ultron in the same way every all-powerful AI gets stopped—with 60-year-old Nazi software. Zola, as software, acts as a computer virus might. He gets into Ultron's systems and wreaks all sorts of havoc. Rewind back to MCU Ultron who also acts as a virus, first infecting and seemingly wiping J.A.R.V.I.S., then quickly spreading worldwide. And just like J.A.R.V.I.S and all of the best (worst) viruses--polio, smallpox, COVID-19--Ultron isn't dead—he's evolving.

Maybe that Avengers butt-kicking corrupted some files. Maybe Ultron exists on a single chip at the bottom of an ocean. Because he ostensibly lacks a soul, spirit, or whatever makes life life, Ultron—in whatever form—remains immune to the emotional, psychic, and conscious effects of events like “the snap,” alien invasion, or even a collapsing multiverse. In fact, these things open up new possibilities to an AI. Future threats to the multiverse of the MCU, even in a post-Stark world, seem based in technological advances—alien and galactic travel . . . tech, future and time travel . . . tech, quantum . . . tech. And it's all connected. Ultron's going viral . . . again.

Fans groaned because Ultron, a cosmic-level threat, was defeated so quickly and definitively. But that Ultron was just the level two boss of the game. When he's seen again—post-Kang, post-FF?, post-X intro?--the entire multiverse will quiver at the sight of his glow up. And if he never returns, the idea of a suit of armor around the world, or universe, or multiverse, has already taken root. And for an Ultron-sized virus, the current and future MCU should prove to be very fertile ground.


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