1. Marvel Studios announced Thursday morning that James Spader will play the villain Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
2. Spader has made a career out of playing an eccentric oddball who is so much smarter than everyone else that he can barely condescend to be in the same room with them.
3. Ultron, in the Marvel comics at least, is a robot entity so intelligent and powerful that he decides all of humanity needs to be wiped out, which is sort of the ultimate in condescension.
So one at least on that level, Spader’s casting makes a lot of sense. And writer-director Joss Whedon recently told Entertainment Weekly that Ultron is “not a happy guy, which means he’s an interesting guy. He’s got pain. And the way that manifests is not going to be standard robot stuff.” All of that sounds very much up Spader’s alley.
4. But Spader is about to star in NBC’s upcoming drama The Blacklist, one of the more promising new series of the season.
Marvel’s announcement said Spader was “playing” Ultron, not “voicing” him, which implies Spader will be physically shooting the role via “performance capture,” like Mark Ruffalo did with The Hulk in The Avengers.
The pilot for The Blacklist, however, is very Spader heavy. It is being sold largely with his face, and NBC seems particularly bullish on the show. So if it lasts until the spring, when The Avengers: Age of Ultron is expected to go into production, Spader, Marvel, and NBC could find themselves in a scheduling pickle. Not an insurmountable one, but tricky nonetheless.
5. Spader is also known for…how to put this? Taking on roles that are really, really kinky.
Does this mean we’ll get a scene in which Ultron angrily yet amorously spanks Iron Man? Joss Whedon, are you paying attention?