Submit or perish. After years of buildup, Ultron has finally returned to lay waste to the world of man.
With the launch of the much awaited Age of Ultron series finally here, BuzzFeed chatted by phone with writer Brian Bendis and Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort to talk about this story that has been two years in the making.
BuzzFeed: Who is Ultron?
Tom Brevoort: He's one of the Avengers big recurring foes over the years. He was an artificial intelligence created by Hank Pym, who has been both Ant Man and Giant Man, one of the Avengers. For years Ultron had an Oedipal complex where he wanted to kill his "father" and marry his "mother," Wasp. He wanted his own family and ended up creating Vision, who then betrayed him and became one of the Avengers. So he's a recurring villain in the pantheon.
Brian Bendis: He is a self-generating AI. Hank Pym accidentally set off a time bomb on the human race. Ultron became self-aware and developed major daddy issues, as all the great Marvel villains have. But the fear with Ultron, who is up there with Magneto and Doctor Doom as a big baddy in the Marvel universe, the fear has always been one day he would evolve to a place where he knows what he needs to do and does it — and what he thinks he needs to do is eliminate the human race from the planet Earth because he is the next step up in evolution. And the Avengers are always able to beat him back or shut him down, but they're never able to kill him. Even Tony Stark and Reed Richards knew one day he would show up and eliminate us, and now it's happening. My pitch was just, "Let's do it. You just wake up one morning and everything is gone."
BF: The opening pages are completely devastating, it's all a visual overload. Why did you choose this point in time as the jumping-off point?
TB: Our intention going in was, in a story like this, typically the villain shows up and the plot is battling the villain, keeping him from doing whatever nefarious things he's planning. That tends to form the arc of most of our stories. And in this case, we took the approach of immediately dropping readers into this thing where Ultron has come down and already leveled the place, effectively winning. It throws you into this immense postapocalyptic situation, but with a ground-level story following Hawkeye on his mission.
TB: The first half or two-thirds of the issue leans on artist Bryan Hitch's strength as a dramatist and a storyteller, allowing Bendis to dial back on terms of dialogue and copy and let Hitch carry the ball in terms of directing the eye with his cinematic storytelling. The advantage we have over the guys in the movie department is an absolutely unlimited budget. Anything we can imagine and draw, we can do as long as the artist can depict it in a realistic and immersive manner. And Hitch excels at that.
BB: Bryan Hitch is the inventor of this "wide screen" comic book cinematic storytelling. It takes him a long time to produce this stuff, and you want to take advantage of everything he can offer. So we let him draw the series over the course of two years so readers get a new issue every week or two instead of every few months. I was thrilled he agreed to do this project, and it was my job as a writer to give him everything that he needs to go nuts and then get the hell out of his way. And I ended up pulling a great deal of dialogue. You'll see in the second or third issue this whole sequence where I just bailed on it, I was not helping, just covering up interesting things. The art could speak for itself. Pulling dialogue off the page is the biggest compliment I can give an artist.