When it comes to the Marvel films, most people have a good idea of who the characters are. However, as the MCU begins its next big phase, we as an audience are going to be introduced to a lot of new characters who are not going to get their own films to flesh them out. For viewers who have not read the comics, it can be confusing (and down right irritating when you meet those fans who have and are condescending about it). At the end of the day, you don’t have to read the comics to enjoy the films, or the Cinematic Universe as a whole. However, it can be helpful to know the comic origins of the characters who won’t be getting their own stand alone films. Fortunately, I have read the comics and I have no qualms in helping my likeminded MCU fans fill in blanks and learn a little more about the characters they are seeing on the big screen.
This week, I will be covering all things Vision! Here’s what you need to know about Marvel’s favorite synthezoid…
The Vision made his first appearance way before he was the character known in the comics today. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created a superhero character for “Marvel Mystery Comics” #13. This early incarnation was a law enforcement officer from another dimension. He never hit it big until Stan Lee and Roy Thomas decided the Avengers needed a new character in 1968.
Scrapping most aspects of the original character, the new Vision (who you will now recognize) made his first appearance in “The Avengers” #57. Built by Ultron, modeled after the ‘brain patterns’ of Wonder Man, encased in the body of the first Human Torch (a golden age relic from when Marvel was first getting started, not Johnny Storm, don’t panic), this Vision was a synthezoid made to help Ultron destroy the Avengers, specifically Ultron’s own creator, Dr. Henry Pym and his wife, Janet Van Dyne.
However, in an ironic twist, whereas Ultron was an android made by man that turned evil, Vision, the android made by an android, became good. Instead of helping Ultron finally destroy the Avengers, he actually was convinced by his soon-to-be human teammates to help them defeat Ultron. In a classic struggle of intended programming vs free will, the Vision went from a villainous machine to a complicated hero. However, the purpose, circumstances, and overall meaning of his creation and non-organic existence forever haunt and torment him, leaving him in a state of existential crisis.
The Vision officially joined the Avengers in “The Avengers” #58, after undergoing a series of tests to see if he was team material. This issue features one of the greatest pieces of comic art to come out of the silver age: the android marveling at the discovery that he can cry.
After seeing that he now has friends and teammates who love and accept him, the Vision excuses himself for a private moment to reflect on his new life as an Avenger and sheds a tear of joy. It is one of my favorite moments in Marvel comics history because it marks the beginning of the android’s emotional growth and character development. If Marvel does not try to incorporate a scene of the Vision crying into one of their many upcoming films, they will have ignored what is possibly the character’s greatest historical moment.
Aside from being (for the moment) the only android Avenger in the films, the Vision is also one of the most powerful. Depending on what literature you read, his powers include (but are not limited to) flying, intangibility, super strength, and the ability to shoot a beam from the gem in his forehead. In the comics, this gem is not an Infinity Stone, so the fact that the Vision is now an obstacle in Thanos’ quest to assemble the gauntlet may not bode well for our favorite android.
Beyond being extremely powerful, the Vision actually has one of the most complex emotional arcs in comics’ history. While he goes through the classic android struggle of defining himself as a human, he also comes to think of himself as a man through his relationship with the Scarlet Witch. In one of Marvel’s most famous love stories, the Vision falls in love with Wanda Maximoff.
Now, two superheroes being in a relationship is not unheard of, but it’s the way that their relationship unfolds that makes them one of my favorite couples to read. Due to his android nature, the Vision actually defines a lot of his character and identity around his interactions with Wanda. His ability to feel compassion, love, sympathy and a range of other human emotions all have roots in how he behaves when he is with her. Similarly, Wanda is actually put on the offensive when it comes to justifying their relationship, as a human dating a robot does not go over well with the less open minded inhabitants of the Marvel Universe, including at times her own mutant relatives. However, readers quickly latched onto the tragic pairing. They became so popular that they actually got two spin-off miniseries (“The Vision and the Scarlet Witch”) exploring their relationship and later marriage as they left the Avengers, bought a house and raised children.
Yes, they were able to conceive children, despite the Vision not being a biological being. Because screw it, that’s why. (Actually, it has a lot to do with Wanda’s reality-altering hex magic, but also because screw it.)
Of course, things never end happily in the comic book world. The Vision’s story winds through arcs that have him take over the world when he believes his way is the logical one, be dismantled and erased only to be reassembled and have to redefine himself all over again, lose his kids cause they… weren’t real?…were part of a demon?… magic?…I don’t know. There is even a more modern storyline in which the Scarlet Witch, in an attempt to regain her lost children, alters reality and causes the Vision to crash the Quinjet into Avenger’s Mansion and create Ultron all over again. He is killed when an enraged She-Hulk rips him in half. That’s one way to end a relationship.
As he stands currently in the comics, the Vision is a member of the Avengers (as well as MANY other teams), is not with the Scarlet Witch (though he appears to still harbor affection for her) and is still plodding along on his eternal journey to understand humanity and himself. Whatever the Marvel Cinematic Universe holds for him is uncertain (other than the fact that he is worthy and possesses the Mind Stone). For now, that is everything you really need to know about him to understand where he’s been and where he might go. So the next time an angry nerd accuses you of Googling a character’s history, please assure them that you did in fact do just that, and you learned quite a lot.