It’s been four months since Disney and Marvel Studios screened the first Avengers: Infinity War footage for those lucky enough to get into select presentations at Comic-Con International and D23 Expo. Now, the first official trailer is finally here, and while this epic new footage is sure to help satiate the ravenous MCU fan base for the time being, the Mad Titan Thanos’ impending arrival doesn’t appear to bode too well for Paul Bettany’s vibranium-bodied synthezoid Vision.
Perhaps that’s putting it a bit lightly. After all, in the footage, we see what appears to be a member of Thanos’ deadly Black Order use a scepter to try to forcibly remove the Mind Stone from Vision’s forehead – an act that’s all but inevitable if Thanos is destined to assemble and wield the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet. But what will the Mad Titan’s acquisition of the Mind Stone mean for the fate of Vision?
It was in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron that we were first introduced to the MCU iteration of Vision. However, the argument can be made that the character was already with us in spirit (or rather Mind) since the first Avengers movie in 2012, because that’s where we first saw the Mind Stone, which was housed within the scepter that – ironically – was given to Loki by Thanos himself. The stone transformed what was an otherwise ordinary scepter into a powerful weapon, capable of firing energy blasts, manipulating minds and even enabling teleportation. While in the possession of HYDRA, it was the Mind Stone-powered scepter that was used to conduct the experiments on Wanda and Pietro Maximoff that granted them their extraordinary abilities. Then, when the stone was finally extracted from the scepter, it became the final piece of the puzzle in Ultron’s quest to create a perfect body.
That brings us back to Vision. Despite Ultron’s best efforts, the Avengers were able to reclaim the Regeneration Cradle before he had a chance to transfer his consciousness into the vibranium-forged android body inside it. The Mind Stone embedded in the android’s forehead was enough to power the hardware, and thanks to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (as well as a little Mjlonir-induced lightning), the remnants of J.A.R.V.I.S.' protocols became the software that, together, gave life to Vision.
So, with that being the case, what can we expect will happen if and when the Mind Stone – an intrinsic component of Vision’s bioorganic physiology – is suddenly ripped from his head? While an automobile can technically run without a battery by using power from the alternator, it comes at the risk of burning out your semiconductors and diodes. Likewise, a human being can technically “live” without any brain activity (i.e. brain-dead), but from a legal and medical standpoint, that individual is deceased. Does this mean that a Vision without a Mind Stone is a car without a battery? That he’s no more alive than he was before he first emerged from the Regeneration Cradle?
It was in Captain America: Civil War that Vision seemingly began to contemplate this, himself. “I don't know what this is. Not really,” he told Scarlet Witch as he pointed to the stone in his forehead. “I know it's not of this world, that it powered Loki's staff, gave you your abilities. But its true nature is a mystery and yet it is part of me… I wish to understand it. The more I do, the less it controls me. One day, who knows? I may even control it.”
It’s important to remember that this is a Vision who, as evidenced by his awkward social skills, is still struggling to understand human behavior (and apparently cooking), so it’s hard to imagine he was simply speaking metaphorically. Is it possible he can evolve to the point where he’s no longer reliant on the Mind Stone to function? Even if he can, what sort of asset would he be to the Avengers without it? A genius-level intellect and hacking abilities are all well and good, but it’s Vision’s energy blasts and density manipulation – both of which are attributed to the Mind Stone – that make him such a powerhouse. Take those away, and what you’re essentially left with a non-AI J.A.R.V.I.S.
Who knows, though? Perhaps in Avengers 4, we’ll see him follow in the footsteps of his comic book counterpart. Surely Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could use a butler who makes a mean chicken paprikash.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland and Anthony Mackie. The film opens May 4, 2018.