It has been a week of major changes for some of Marvel’s most recognizable characters. On Tuesday, it was revealed that they will be re-launching Thor as a female character, and on Thursday they announced that Sam “The Falcon” Wilson will be taking over the mantle of Captain America. Now a third major announcement heralds the modification of another well-known character in the Marvel Universe.
A press release late Friday morning alerted fans that in upcoming comics the super-villain Ultron will be a horse. An explanation of how or why this change will take place has not yet been revealed. Ultron is a long-time nemesis of the Avengers, and until now has always been depicted as a sentient android. But the statement from Marvel makes it clear: “This isn’t going to be Horse-tron. This isn’t a version of Ultron from a horse dimension. This isn’t a horse-shaped clone of Ultron. ULTRON IS GOING TO BE A HORSE.”
To substantiate the announcement, two drawings were also released, which seem to indicate that the new Ultron will be illustrated as a rather generic-looking horse.
Reactions to the announcement have been mixed so far. Some fans have voiced strong opposition to the major changes being made to well known Marvel characters, while others welcome the new story-telling opportunities that these changes provide. After the announcement was made, Marvel illustrator David Aja tweeted “@marvel This could work. I like drawing horses.” When asked for a comment, Stan Lee replied, “I love it! If there’s a movie I want a cameo!”
Ultron will be the main antagonist in the upcoming Avengers sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron slated for release in May 2016. It is unclear if and how this change will affect the movie.
Horse enthusiasts have applauded the decision, citing a lack of horse-based characters in mainstream comics. PETA has voiced some reservations about the change, questioning whether the horse will continue to be a villain. It is unclear if Ultron will be able to continue villainous activities as a horse, considering that the press release seemed to imply that it will no longer have its technology-related superpowers.
Marvel has not commented on how the change will affect Ultron’s hero/villain status, but they are trumpeting the character’s modification as a major step forward for diversity and inclusion. “Until now, robots who identify as horses have not been represented in comics, and we felt it was time for that to change,” said a Marvel spokesperson. “We’re not going to send the message that you can’t be a horse just because society tells you that you’re a robot.”
The announcement has served to reignite speculation about a crossover between The Avengers and My Little Pony. While rumors of a crossover have been circulating for months, the press release did not mention My Little Pony, and Marvel representatives declined to comment.
How will DC respond? Stay tuned here for any further developments…