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James Spader Signed to Play Villain Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Although the film hasn’t even completed the writing stage, the second Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is already signing cast members, including this latest announcement for the film’s villain. Marvel Comics made the announcement in a short press release on their website, saying that James Spader will face off against the Avengers.

The actor, who won an Emmy for his roles in The Practice and Boston Legal. Spader is good friends with Robert Downey, Jr., who is expected to return in his role as Tony Stark the Iron Man. The film will once again be co-written and directed by Joss Whedon.

The question many have is what role, exactly, Spader will play in the film. In the comic series for the Avengers, Ultron is basically a huge, evil, artificially intelligent computer. When he physically manifests, it is usually as a large metal robot. This may mean that in the film, assuming Whedon doesn’t stray too far from the comics, Spader’s role will largely be voice acting rather than physical. If a computer-generated robot is used, the actor could possibly provide motion capture as well – similar to what Mark Ruffalo did for Hulk in the first film.

Spader does not have an immediately recognizable voice, the way many Hollywood actors do (think Sean Connery or Robert DeNiro), so his work as Ultron could either be revolutionary or sidelined, depending on how memorable it is. There is one thing that cannot be ignored here, however.

Normally, voice-over actors are named as such from the get-go. Announcements of stars signing on with productions as voice actors only is usually said up front. Voice acting is a different style of acting from standard film acting and is often a proud part of any actor’s resume.

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This means that Whedon may be planning to step away from the comics somewhat and create some sort of human Ultron. This could take many forms, of course. A humanoid robot is not out of the question, neither is a hologram or cyborg. Even an actual human embedded with Ultron’s mind is not unlikely. Whatever the choice, it would become integral to the plot. Ultron could even be an Iron Man body with Spader’s head.

The plot is likely to revolve around Tony Stark accidentally or purposefully creating Ultron through his AI system JARVIS (which was already a step away from the comics). Could Ultron be JARVIS gone rogue? This would create a specific weakness for Stark/Iron Man that could become the focal point of the plot itself.

Whatever the plot becomes, speculation aside, it’s surely going to be interesting.  Avengers: Age of Ultron is expected to begin filming next summer and hit theaters on May 1, 2015.