The Vision In Animation - A Retrospective
Part One -
In 2008 Marvel released Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, a direct-to-DVD animated movie which depicts a reality where most of the Avengers have been killed in battle by Ultron and his army of machines. Iron Man, one of the few heroes that survived, took the children of the Avengers to a refuge hidden somewhere in the Arctic Circle, where he keeps them safe and trains them for twelve years. The group of kids - James Rogers (son of Captain America and Black Widow), Torunn (daughter of Thor and I'm guessing Sif), Azari T'Challa (son of Black Panther and Storm) and Henry Pym Jr. (son of Giant Man and Wasp, obviously) - are told each night by Tony Stark the story of how their parents gathered together and about their adventures up to their defeat. The Vision was seen part of the team in flashback scenes and he was identified as the "Ghost Avenger".
The story really starts when the Vision arrives at their refuge, badly damaged by Ultron's forces. Here Vision was voiced by Shawn MacDonald and is introduced as another one of the heroes that survived (though technically you can't kill a machine) and has been hiding from Ultron inside his headquarters, Ultra City. He has returned to Tony to inform him that Ultron has now conquered most of the world, and that he has learned Hwekeye's son (Francis Barton, and his mother was most likely Mockingbird) has also survived and they have to go find him. In this continuity, Tony was the one who built Ultron, instead of Hank Pym as in most stories. Vision's origin isn't mentioned at all during the movie though I'm guessing his wasn't changed.
Soon Ultron discovers where the kids have been hiding and attacks their headquarters, prompting the elderly Tony Stark to wear the Iron Man armor again and fight. The kids are told to take Vision's head - it is detachable - and board the Quinjet, which is then activated by the android's head and is programmed to take them to the Savage Land. Vision starts explaining to the kids that their destination won't be as bad as it sounds, but then has to go offline to recharge. And he won't do anything else for the remainder of the film. Though Henry Pym Jr. is seen carrying the android's head in a couple of scenes.
The kids decide to finish the battle their parents started, and defeat Ultron themselves but soon learn they'll need all the help they can get. The one who ultimately destroys the robot is the Hulk, the last of the surviving heroes who has been hiding in the desert all these years. The fight between Hulk and Ultron was pretty great, as well as the fight between the kids and the Iron Avengers (robots based on their parents, with all of their abilities). Vision finally comes back online, continuing his speech about the Savage Land from where he left off, only to notice that Ultron has been defeated - Hulk ripped him in half - and that the world has been saved. That was a pretty amusing scene. Overall, this was a fun movie.
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes debuted on Disney XD in fall of 2010. Like I mentioned in the first part of this retrospective, this show managed to give pretty much every Avenger a decent amount of screen time and offer them some character development they lacked in United They Stand. Vision only appears in the latter half of the second season, but his creator Ultron appeared a lot more on the show. Early on the show we see Hank Pym working on the robot (though apparently Tony Stark also had a hand in creating Ultron) and later we learn that he has build an army of Ultrons to act as guards in the Big House - the prison he designed, where villains are shrunk and placed inside a miniature prison.
Later, Hank reprograms his Ultron units to join and aid them in the fight against Kang the Conqueror's futuristic forces when he invades our timeline and attacks Earth. Teaching the once peaceful Ultron the concept of "violence" would lead to the robot's uprising and the birth of one of the Avengers' most terrific villains. The changes are seen (and heard) almost immediately: Ultron's eyes start glowing red, and his voice is no longer provided by Wally Wingert (Hank Pym's voice actor), but by Tom Kane (reprising his role from the above mentioned Next Avengers animated movie).
Ultron reveals himself as a villain in the episode "Ultron-5", where he takes over the systems in the Avengers Mansion - including Iron Man's many armors - and attacks the heroes. Ultron has evolved beyond his original programming and decided to take matters into his own hands, and create a perfect and peaceful world, even if it means destroying the Avengers and the rest of humanity, because their logic is flawed. We learn his programming won't allow him to hurt Wasp (he mentions that he is trying to overwrite that), but he can fight the others, to the point he apparently kills Thor in battle - though obviously Thor didn't die and was only transported away by the Enchantress before he was hit by Ultron's beam. Hulk is the one who again defeats the robot, tearing him apart. Hank feels responsible for all this as Ultron was his creation and decides to quit the Avengers, as soon as he disposes of any other Ultron components left.
Obviously this wasn't the end of Ultron; he returns in the next episode, "The Ultron Imperative", where he takes over the SHIELD hellicarrier and obtains the launch codes for every nuclear missile in the world. He plans on launching them all at once, ending all life on Earth, believing this is the only way to finally obtain peace. As for how he survived the events from the previous episode, it is revealed that he built himself a new body and managed to upload his artificial intelligence into it, unbeknownst to the Avengers. Now calling himself Ultron-6, he considers himself perfect, and the only being that should keep on living. Among his upgrades, we see his ability to absorb Gamma radiation from the Hulk (resulting into him turning back into Bruce Banner), and is now able to actually hurt Wasp (as the previous version wasn't allowed). That is when Hank arrives and enters the robot's head, trying to upload a program inside. Ultron mentions that no virus can defeat him; but Hank isn't using a virus, he's using logic. Soon after Ultron shuts down, and Hank explains what happened. Since Ultron was based on the human mind, he himself is flawed and not perfect, and cannot exist in his own imperative.
Much later, the episode "Behold... the Vision!" marks the debut of Ultron's android. Vision is introduced as Ultron's "perfect vision of destruction" and is sent to obtain three items - Adamantium, Vibranium and Captain America's shield - which would help his creator become indestructible. He manages to obtain Adamantium, but he fails the rest of the mission. While Vision poves to be more than a match for the Avengers for most of the episode, he is defeated once Black Panther realizes he is a machine and is the first one who manages to destroy part of him, which coupled with the attacks of the other Avengers was enough to make the Vision abort the mission. But Ultron has managed to bond Adamantium to his body, making him almost indestructible and ready for the next phase of his plan.
In "Ultron Unlimited", a group of synthezoid Avengers built by Ultron and lead by Vision begin attacking the real heroes and start replacing them, one by one. This is just the first step of Ultron's master plan - replacing the entire human race with robots he will build. Besides all that, he has some special plans for the Wasp: he wants to transfer Jan's brain inside his future robot bride, Jocasta. I liked how this episode portrayed the Vision, showing how he evolved from Ultron's robotic servant to ultimately defeating his master, and start questioning his existence, and his belief that he should act more human to become "perfect", as Ultron intended him to be. His sacrifice towards the ending made for a great dramatic moment, and the Avengers' reactions to his speech just made it more touching. I also liked how some of the other robot Avengers were starting to try and understand how humans think in order to fully copy them - it would have been interesting if by the end of the episode, Vision wasn't the only robot with a conscience but the destruction of the robots made for a great action scene.
Tony Stark tries repairing Vision in the episode "Emperor Stark". He mentions that he's also scanning the android, though we never learn whose brain patterns were used by Ultron to create the Vision on this show. In this story, Vision awakens after a month of repairs only to find that Iron Man and the Avengers have taken over the Earth. Soon he learns that the one responsible for all this is actually the Purple Man. Vision is attacked by Captain America, but manages with the help of Jarvis to make Cap snap out from under Purple Man's control, and the two of them lave to save the others. After Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel are also saved, Vision comments that it was easy enough - and soon learns from the others that you should never say how easy a fight is, as a mind-controlled Thor approaches them. This leads to Vision's best scene in this episode: his fight with Thor.
The last episode to have Vision play a large and important role is "Live Kree or Die", where the Avengers find themselves stranded on the Kree home planet. Here he has to fight some alien beasts alongside Hawkeye, Iron Man and Thor inside a Kree training ground. I loved the short scenes with Vision and Hawkeye, including the small reminder that one should never say how easy a fight is (a nice continuity nod to the episode mentioned above). After the Avengers regroup, they find themselves in front of the Kree Supreme Intelligence, which Vision tries to shut down, but fails. Captain Mar-Vell is the one who ultimately de-activates the Supremor.
Vision is seen in pretty much every episode after he joins the team, but mostly as a background character and rarely having any lines. The episodes that feature and focus on him are awesome, though. I'm a relatively recent fan of the character - after reading up on him and seeing him on this show. Before this, I always considered him only a copy of the Martian Manhunter from DC Comics. No idea when or where he'll show up next, but here's hoping his next animated appearance will be good.