Thanks to Hollywood fueled rumors and speculation, the Vision — a character the majority of the moviegoing public has never even heard of — has become of the most buzzed about characters in comics. With word that actor Paul Bettany is making the shift from voicing Tony Stark’s computer A.I. (aka J.A.R.V.I.S.) to playing the Vision in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the synthezoid hero is poised to experience levels of popularity like never before. Of course, even though the public at large may not be aware of him (yet), the Vision has had a long and storied career that stretches back to Marvel Comics’ Golden Age, and Marvel Studios has many great story elements to choose from when it introduces the Vision into the Cinematic Universe.
An “Avengers” mainstay since he was introduced by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in “Avengers” #57 in 1968, the Vision started his life as a tool of murder and mayhem for the evil robot Ultron, and intended to use his ability to alter the density of his body to completely eradicate the team from the face of the planet. However, he quickly sided with the Avengers, becoming one of the most important Assemblers in the team’s history. Over the decades, a number of major Avengers stories have centered on the Vision, from his unlikely marriage to the Scarlet Witch and his familial bond with Hank Pym, to his strange, sibling-like connection to Wonder Man, the Vision has become an indispensable part of Avengers lore. In recent years, an incarnation of the Vision was a major player in the fan/Tumblr-favorite “Young Avengers,” and he can currently can be found in the pages of “Avengers A.I.” The Vision is arguably the most well-developed and deeply layered artificial life form in comics, and under Joss Whedon’s watch, it’s a fair bet that millions will soon discover what comic fans have known for decades: that the Vision totally rocks.
Here are just some directions Marvel can go with the Vision, plot points and story elements that will show the rest of the world just how rich and cool the Android Avenger truly is.
Like Father, NOT Like Son
As longtime Marvel readers know, the Vision was originally built by Ultron to destroy the Avengers. In his first appearance, the mysterious, red-faced humanoid infiltrated Avenger’s mansion and took down Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Imagine this sequence playing out on the big screen, with the Vision systemically dismantling Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and the rest in his very first appearance. Theater audiences wouldn’t know what hit them as the Vision uses his density and phasing powers to take down Marvel’s greatest heroes at the command of his evil father.
After establishing the Vision as the ultimate badass, Whedon could shift gears over the remaining the drama and pathos as the Vision learns to be human, discerns the meaning of love and compassion and eventually turns on Ultron. The Vision’s turn to humanity was one of Roy Thomas’s finest moments as writer of “The Avengers,” and to see this saga played out, to see the Vision find his heart and betray his evil mechanical menace that gave him lie, and cry that legendary tear that originally fell from his synthetic eye in “Avengers ” #58, could be a classic Marvel movie moment. Whedon’s Avengers are very human characters, imperfect and inspirational, and seeing Vision learn about the best of humanity through Cap, Banner and Stark would be a fitting and moving tribute to one of the Silver Age’s finest moments.
J.A.R.V.I.S. Made Flesh
Even if the cinematic introduction of the Vision more or less follows Thomas’ story beats on the synthetic man’s journey to becoming a hero, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for change. One of the biggest hints on how Whedon and company’s interpretation of the Vision might differ from the comic’s is the actor slated to play the role. Paul Bettany has brought Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. computer system to life in all three “Iron Man” films and “The Avengers.” The bodiless personality has been an integral part of the cinematic “Iron Man” mythos, to the point where he’s very nearly a full-on supporting character.
Now, picture that voice coming from the body of the mysterious and threatening figure of the Vision. Since the story of Hank Pym is slated to be dealt with in the “Ant-Man” film, separate from and after “Avengers 2” is out of theaters, there has been a great deal of speculation that in the Marvel Cinematic U, it will be Stark that builds Ultron. From there, if the film hops back on to the comic book continuity, it would be Ultron who builds Vision. And while there are any number of ways to approach this development, by using the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S., which has become such an engrained part of the Marvel film mythos, you automatically give the Vision an emotional resonance with fans.
Love, American Android Style
Of course, the Vision isn’t the only new character that to be introduced to the world of “The Avengers.” Fans will soon meet the Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver as played by Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. As Marvel loyalists know, the Vision and Scarlet Witch have a history as of one of Marvel’s most famous and strangest romances. After the Vision turned to the side of the angels, he and Wanda Maximoff fell in love, creating a bond that lasted decades. The characters’ blossoming romance could be the film’s central dramatic issue, making the potentially cosmic stakes of the Ultron versus Avengers come down to the love shared between two very diverse beings.
It can’t be an accident that Joss Whedon is debuting Wanda and Vision in the same film. Could Wanda be the compelling force that could make Vision turn against Ultron? Could this lead to the two becoming the Cinematic U’s first and strangest superhero power couple? The conflict engine might be in place as well, as Wanda’s hot-headed brother Pietro, who is traditionally opposed to his sister’s romance, could easily throw sand in the works and set up an even bigger storyline for the inevitable third Avengers film.
Expanding the Avengers Roster
With the first installment of “The Avengers,” moviegoers got to know the roster of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the six individuals that assembled in the film (seven counting Nick Fury), but longtime fans know that the roster of the Avengers is actually one composed of dozens of heroes. “Age of Ultron” is already gearing up to expand its list of characters by a significant amount, and it seems inevitable that at least a few will become full-fledged Avengers.
While the most obvious first new recruit to the team is “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” co-star the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), there has yet to be an announcement guaranteeing the high-flying hero is joining the Avengers sequel. If Cap’s new partner doesn’t make the leap to the team, the Vision could be the first recruit, along with Scarlet Witch and possibly Quicksilver. That would take the team from six heroes to nine, opening the doors to the legendary and varied roster fans of the comics have grown to love.
Someday We’ll Find It, the Golden Age Connection
One of the greatest Easter eggs that has appeared in a Marvel Studio’s film so far is the quick glimpse of the original Human Torch early in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” It may be a brief and fleeting shot, but the possibilities that the acknowledgement of the Torch’s existence opens up are fascinating. The possibility of the existence of the Invaders, idea of advanced robotics existing within the Marvel Universe — that quick peek at the Torch opened some intriguing doors, especially since, as fans of the comics know, Ultron used the body of the original Human Torch in his construction of the Vision. (Or so it was once believed, but we’re keeping things somewhat simple, here.) If this thread is followed up on, might the Vision not only have a possible connection to Tony Stark, but with Captain America as well? Sure, we saw a fair amount of Cap’s WWII adventures, but there is a great deal of time left unaccounted while Cap was on the front lines. Is it possible that he fought side by side with the Torch? When Cap confronts the Vision for the first time in “Age of Ultron,” there’s a possibility Steve Rogers will be a little familiar with the cloaked android, making things that much more personal for the Avengers — and, dare we hope, opening the door for none other than Namor to step through for Phase Three!