What If Avengers: Age of Ultron Really Is a Pinocchio Story?

By  · Published on January 13th, 2015


If there’s one thing that early marketing for Avengers: Age of Ultron has made extremely clear, it’s that the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is preoccupied and/or enamored with the Pinocchio mythos. Both currently available teasers – our first look from October and last night’s newly released extended teaser (would we really call these guys full trailers just yet?) – make use of the classic Disney tune “I’ve Got No Strings,” which appeared in their 1940 animated feature Pinocchio. (Barbra Streisand also covered the song one time, though we’re not sure that has anything to do with either Pinocchio or Avengers, but wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?)

Not content to simply use the song as a vague-ish allusion to main baddie Ultron breaking free from the apparent tyranny of being created by well, whoever (yes, it’s probably Iron Man, but we’ll get to that later), the first teaser actually featured the voice of Ultron (James Spader, because yes) reciting lyrics from the original song. Ultron had strings! But not anymore! But what the hell does that mean? And, more importantly, who is Geppetto in this scenario? (Also, who is Jiminy, because goodness knows that Marvel can work magic with unexpected animated animals?)

Yes, Ultron’s own Geppetto is probably Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), as the next Avengers film has retrofitted and reformed the traditional Ultron origin story to fit more neatly inside the Avengers-phere (in the comic books, Ultron was created by Hank Pym). As IMDb tells it, the film depicts what happens “when Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.”

This explains why everyone in both of these trailers is so mad at Iron Man (especially Hulk), because Tony’s own hubris and big brain have spawned a new villain for the superheroic group to battle, a group who probably doesn’t need more baddies to fight (although Thanos’ inability to hold on to a goddamn Infinity Stone has prohibited him from growing into the ultimate nemesis we have all expected him to be).

It’s kind of a weird twist on the Pinocchio myth.

If you remember Pinocchio in its most well-known form – specifically, the 1940 animated Disney film that contains “I’ve Got No Strings” – you probably remember that the film concludes on a positive note: with Pinocchio becoming a “real boy” and Geppetto and Jiminy both celebrating the miracle. That film ends with the creator and his most beloved creation reunited and happier for it. Everybody wins! Pinocchio has proven his worth by demonstrating his ability to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish,” thus becoming the one thing he wants most to be: real.

Ultron probably doesn’t harbor such desires. After all, what’s “real” to Ultron? But Ultron does seem to be interested in being brave, truthful, and unselfish. After all, Wikipedia expands on the film’s synopsis to tell us that Age of Ultron is about with still more detail:

“With S.H.I.E.L.D. destroyed and the Avengers needing a hiatus from stopping threats, Tony Stark attempts to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program with Ultron, a self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence. However, his plan backfires when Ultron decides that humans are the main enemy and sets out to eradicate them from Earth, and it is up to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, along with support from Nick Fury and Maria Hill, to stop him from enacting his plans. Along the way, the Avengers encounter the powerful twins, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, as well as the familiar Vision.”

Ultron wants to wipe out humanity because he has determined the human race to be “the main enemy.” Free of emotion, Ultron is able to be, yes, brave, truthful, and unselfish. Too bad that means wiping out an entire species. Oopsie!

Geppetto didn’t have to deal with such problems with his puppet boy – the guy just wanted to be real! – but the parallels are apparent (and, again, they are driven home by Marvel’s own marketing). If Tony is Geppetto and Ultron is his own Pinocchio, will Age of Ultron end in traditional Pinocchio fashion? With a happy reunion and the transformation of Ultron into something “more real”? Given how roughly everyone treats Tony in our latest looks at Age of Ultron and that the feature will be followed a year after its release by Captain America: Civil War, which Downey is already signed to appear in, the path seems clear: Iron Man and Ultron just might end Age of Ultron in a happy reunion, though everyone else will suffer for it.

We still have no idea who Jiminy is, though.

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