James Spader, known primarily to modern audiences for his Emmy-winning television work on shows like Boston Legal has been cast as the villain Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the big-screen follow up to the $1.5 billion grossing Avengers film.
Announced in a short press release on Marvel.com, Spader is the first official new casting announcement for the film, which will reunite writer/director Joss Whedon with Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, and Chris Evans' Captain America, amongst other returning roles.
Spader's television turn in the 21st Century followed a thirty-year career in film. His most recent role on TV debuts this fall, as he plays a villain named Raymond Reddington, a career criminal who begins working with law enforcement to take out others on the new NBC series The Blacklist.
His film career has crossed paths with Downey, Jr. twice before, in the 1980s films Tuff Turf and Less Than Zero. He has also played in genre entertainment, co-starring in Stargate, a film that spawned its own franchise in movies and TV.
Ultron was announced as the villain of the Avengers sequel in a short video, introduced by Joss Whedon, at Comic-Con International: San Diego in July 2013. A battered helmet of Iron Man's was hammered slowly into the face of the robotic Ultron, speculated to be showing his new origin for film. In the comic books, scientist and superhero Hank Pym, Ant-Man (and one of the comic book founding members of the Avengers), creates the A.I. controlled robot Ultron, who goes rogue and turns villain almost immediately. Pym will make his first appearance in 2015's Ant-Man, and will not be tied to Ultron's origin, Whedon previously confirmed. Speculation is that the movie version will instead center on Tony Stark, and possibly on a corruption of his existing A.I., J.A.R.V.I.S.
Other newcomer characters Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, a pair of super powered twins who started out as villains in the comic books, have yet to be officially cast, though rumors and reports suggest Elizabeth Olson and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are close to deals for the respective roles.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled to hit theaters May 1, 2015.