Editorial: The Day Ultron Was Cast And Nobody Cared
As you probably know by now, James Spader was cast as Ultron yesterday. It’s not entirely clear if he’ll just be providing a voice or doing some CGI for the character as well, but he’s Ultron regardless. The news broke yesterday afternoon and the internet…exploded? No, not quite…celebrated? No, not that either. Well, to be perfectly honest, the internet didn’t really do anything. Now let me preface this by saying this editorial isn’t knocking the casting or trying to say the movie is in trouble, I’m just taking a look at the odd reaction (or better lack of reaction) for the interwebz.
James Spader is a great actor. He’s won three Emmy Awards and most recently was nominated for a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for his stellar performance as William N. Bilbo in 2012’s Lincoln (the Spielberg one, not the vampire one). He’s worked with Robert Downey Jr. before in Less Than Zero, so he has that preexisting Avengers connection before even walking on to the set. If the rumors prove true and Stark creates Ultron, then the two already have a decent working relationship to build upon. So the lack of Ultron buzz shouldn’t have had anything to do with the actor Joss Whedon, Marvel, and everyone else involved chose. In fact, the few reactions that were on the web after the announcement weren’t negative. I waded through hundreds of Tweets hours after the announcement, and none were very negative. In fact most were defending the actor against the nonexistent attacks. There were a lot of “if you don’t think James Spader will be a good Ultron then…” Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagrams. So why does no one care about Spadtron? Spadtron hasn’t caught on but it totally should. Is it that he’s not too well known with the younger crowd or something else entirely?
The most obvious thing is that Ultron is a known villain but not a WELL known villain. Of course diehards like us have heard of the megalomaniacal artificial intelligence and his many run-ins with Earth Mightiest Heroes, but the general movie going audience isn’t well versed in his exploits. The most they might have heard of the metal menace is that we nerds were outraged Hank Pym (another character they probably don’t know too well) didn’t create him. As we get closer to Avengers 2, I’m sure Whedon, Marvel, and everyone else will start introducing the character to the unwashed masses. I mean the first movie made a billion dollars, it all didn’t come from the diehard comic book fans. The interest is there. People are still trying to figure out who the smiling purple guy at the end of the first film was. They’ll catch up to Ultron soon enough.
Another problem may be Marvel’s timing. Batfleck has become international news. It’s not contained to movie blogs, trades, and the like. It has become network news. CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and all the other lettered news agencies have given several minutes of talk to the subject. While the internet may not have been pleased with the choice, it at least got people talking. Everyone knows Batman and everyone knows Ben Affleck. That’s a juicy story that will stay in the news cycle until the movie comes out. Marvel might have tried to steal some of the thunder, but they didn’t knock people’s socks off. This is the first time WB/DC have stolen Marvel’s thunder. Bad sign for Marvel, but the long suffering DC fans should start to feel a little perky.
Ultron was starting to get some steam today, but Kurt Russell was announced for Fast and Furious 7. Twitter exploded. In about 24 minutes Russell garnered more Tweets of excitement than Spader had in 24 hours. I think people just take Marvel for granted now. The movies are super popular. They make more money than most other movies do in their entire life, and they’re usually quality productions. When we start seeing something from Marvel flicks the internet get excited, but announcements just don’t do it like they used to. I’m not sure why the reveal of Ultron didn’t have a huge impact on the internet, but it’s odd. Whether it be Marvel’s timing, people’s attention spans, the lack of it being an outrageous choice (either positively or negatively), or the lack of notoriety for Ultron, the biggest impact Ultron had was not having an impact. What do you think? Did we raise all the appropriate points or is it something else entirely?