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Marvel Has A Vision Of The Vision -- And It's Paul Bettany!

Variety reports that with a month away from beginning production on The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Studios has cast Paul Bettany as The Vision.

For those unfamiliar with the character, know that fans expected him to pop up somewhere, as he is an android created by the villainous Ultron to be a "sleeper agent" within The Avengers -- built from the body of the first Human Torch who, hey, actually appeared for a split second in Captain America: The First Avenger, and no, isn't actually human.

In the comics, The Vision's brain patterns were based on Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, a character we haven't seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and are pretty unlikely to see now. Because with Bettany in the role, we already have an artificial intelligence whose consciousness can be transferred into the body of the Torch in order to become the density-altering Vision.

Bettany has been in all three Iron Man movies and The Avengers as the voice of Jarvis, Tony Stark's A.I. valet and lab assistant.

So while I might have had the details a little bit off, I actually made a similar prediction back in 2010. From my posting then:

Jarvis: Tony Stark has built at least five fantastic war machines. Impressive, yes, but no one seems to have noticed that he's conquered another frontier in robotics. He has an apparently sentient computer system called Jarvis that attends to his every intellectual whim and helps him fabricate his armor and create a new element.

Voiced by Paul Bettany, it's possible but improbable that Jarvis is an actual human being. Another possibility is that he's just an extension of Tony's unconscious mind - I have to watch Iron Man again, but in Iron Man 2 nobody but Tony ever hears Jarvis. While that would be a cool direction to explore in Iron Man 3, it's still unlikely.

No, I'll stick with Jarvis being an advanced artificial intelligence. He knows way too much, thinks way too independently - he actively questions Tony on the purpose of experiments - and is just a little too overtly subservient to be absolutely trustworthy.

In no version of Marvel continuity is Jarvis an artificial intelligence. However, the Avengers do happen to have an enemy that is.

If Marvel movies don't introduce Hank Pym, a scientist almost as brilliant as Tony Stark, there's still a logical combination of elements that would make this work.

Put Jarvis in the shell of the Destroyer, perhaps at the manipulation of Loki, and you have an incredibly powerful combination of mystical might and technological know-how, the kind of foe that requires the same sort of combination of heroes.

In short, you have Ultron.

Not a whisper has been breathed in this direction, but it's an easy leap to make, stitching the various movies together in a completely unexpected way. I'm not saying this is where they're going, but I am saying…

We do know that James Spader will play Ultron, and notice that verb. He will be on camera in the guise, armored up or not, who knows? And Ultron will somehow wrest control over the A.I. running Tony Stark's armor and force it into a body -- which could be Tony's armor, but since Bettany is a recognizably handsome actor, it seems far more likely that we will see his face.

In the comics, Ultron was created by Hank Pym, but Marvel has at least let us think that for the films, Tony Stark will be responsible, which makes that plot connection even more plausible.

Except a few weeks ago, the Marvel Cinematic Universe did cast someone in the role of Hank Pym: Michael Douglas. Granted, that was for Ant-Man, which will actually be released two months after Avengers: Age of Ultron. But with Douglas in the role now, and clearly not able to play Hank Pym as a young adventurer in the 1960s or 70s, it's quite possible that Marvel Studios could sneak him in to the second Avengers film, leaving him dealing with the consequences of his mistake at the beginning of Edgar Wright's film.

Probably not what Wright had in mind originally, but we do know that he and Joe Cornish have had to do some rewrites on their 2006 script in order to make it fit within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Enough speculation! For now, congratulations to Paul Bettany for making it on camera and joining Joss Whedon's stable of actors. That combination will be, well... super.

Derek McCaw

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