Raise your hand if you’re excited to see Paul Bettany as Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m hoping all of your hands are raised. Though I’m looking forward to the simple and happy fact that there’s another Avengers movie on the horizon, I have feelings (FEELINGS, even) when it comes to Bettany. He’s a talented actor, and the Vision is a fascinating character. It seems like a match made in comic-book adaptation heaven – which I’m convinced exists because have you seen all the comics that are coming to movies and television?
When I sought out Avengers and Ultron-related titles to read, The Avengers #58 by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema was at the top of the list of recommendations. “Even an Android Can Cry” explored the origin of Vision as the Avengers probed to learn his secrets before making him a member of their superhero team. Vision made the request to join but Iron Man and the others insist on testing his powers and knowing more about his backstory.
Pitting Vision against Avengers from Captain America to Thor ensures the issue opens with some striking visuals. The colors and lines of the panels with Vision fighting Thor especially jump off the page. Plus the back-and-forth jabs are typical of the time. The dialogue was just different then in a way that’s delightful but wouldn’t hold up to modern scrutiny – like Hawkeye calling Vision “ol’ ruddy-cheeks,” for example. I love it.
After the test of strength and skill, the Avengers turn their attention to Vision’s past. Vision has tried to probe his own memory before to learn how he was created, but it never worked. Until now. Yeah, it’s pretty convenient. Vision learns his creator is none other than Ultron. From the moment he created Vision, Ultron-5 insisted on being called “Master.” That’s never a good sign. Ever. Well-adjusted people don’t make such demands.
Rather than fostering anything resembling a nurturing relationship with his android offspring/creation, Ultron gives him a hard time for experiencing emotions and having questions – basically for not being mindless. I’m not an expert on being a villain, but if Ultron would have shown more patience, he could have sculpted Vision into a more precise tool. Instead, he treats him like a pile of disposable parts. He’s still able to exert his will upon Vision, but he handled it so indelicately. I’m judging your leadership skills, Ultron. Judging.
That’s not enough for the Avengers. Further investigation leads to an uber-cool trip via Thor’s hammer to Hank Pym’s lab where Hank learns he was responsible for creating Ultron. His memory of doing so was blocked. And that’s not all. Hank then notices the memory tape for Wonder Man, a.k.a. Simon Williams, is missing from his lab and realizes the preserved brain patterns have been funneled into Vision. Like Vision says, he’s “an android… with the amnesiac brain patterns of a murdered man.” Even by superhero origin standards, that’s odd (and hey, it’s creative). He’s basically a human made of synthesized parts. That’s a much better way to put it.
The roundabout trip through the Vision’s and Hank’s memory eventually led to the Avengers feeling confident enough about who Vision is to let him into their club. He doesn’t respond with joy or any gushing, but he walks away and sheds a single tear. Aww, Vision, it’s okay to show your emotions in front of the gang. If anyone makes fun of you, you can make your density super hard and punch him.