Avengers: Age of Ultron – Guide to the Minor Villains
Sure, the killer robot is named right there in the title. But who were those other two Marvel Universe villains that made appearances?
Yeah, Ultron kicked some major ass in Avengers: Age of Ultron, a film loaded with Easter eggs and tidbits of Marvel history. But Ultron wasn’t the only villain to appear in this smash hit film. Secondary baddies Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker and Klaw didn’t get much screen time in the Avengers’ latest cinematic adventure, but both characters have a history loaded with unforgettable moments.
So let’s give the devils their due, and take a look at some of the juicier details of each villains’ history…
Let’s start with the most evil Nazi ever to pop on a monocle. Baron Von Strucker (and his monocle) first appeared in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #5 (1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Really, Strucker has always been Nick Fury’s main adversary which was why it was a tad disappointing that he got taken out in Age of Ultron by someone other than Fury. I was looking forward to a classic Fury/Strucker confrontation but it wasn’t meant to be.
Instead, Strucker was just a way to get the tech in place to get Ultron on the playing field. But in the comics, he’s so much more. Strucker’s first appearance was a rather awesome bit of Silver Age-ness as the Baron publically challenged Nick Fury to a duel -with plywood swords. Not one to let a goose-stepper get the best of him, Fury accepted the challenge. When Fury arrived, Strucker proposed a toast and (of course) drugged Fury’s drink.
It was a great propaganda victory for the Nazis and Hitler ordered the capture of the rest of the Howling Commandos in addition to Fury, so Strucker unleashed his Blitzkrieg Squad. Besides having a name that sounds like a mid-70s AWA tag team, the Blitzkrieg Squad was supposed to have the abilities to match the individual talents of the Commandos. They didn’t and they got their asses handed to them. From there, Strucker became to Nick Fury what the Red Skull was to Captain America.
Strucker’s most important contribution to the Marvel Universe came at the end of World War II and was related in Strange Tales #156-158, where the not so good Baron escaped from Germany after he and the Red Skull realized that Hitler was destined to lose the war. Strucker found himself on an island off Japan where he met the beginnings of a new organization dedicated to chaos and world domination. Their name? You guessed it…HYDRA. Wanting to run the group himself, Strucker killed the Supreme HYDRA and took the position at the head of the beast. So yes, Strucker was essentially the first leader of HYDRA and continued being Nick Fury’s greatest adversary during the Cold War.
As head of HYDRA, Strucker fought Captain America and Fury many times over the years until his death at the hands of Fury and SHIELD…only to be resurrected again years later because comics. During his second incarnation, Strucker ran a no-kill puppy shelter and fed countless displaced people during the Great Recession of the mid 2000s.
What, no, you believed that? He pretty much remained the evil Nazi bastard he had always been.
After his return, Strucker took on the Thunderbolts (The New Thunderbolts #1-12) and defended HYDRA against Skrull invaders during Secret Invasion. His greatest modern story came during Dark Reign as it was revealed to Nick Fury that HYDRA has always been secretly running SHIELD with Strucker himself pulling the strings for decades. Sound familiar?
Seriously, if you want to read some perfectly crafted espionage comics featuring Fury and Strucker get thee to the back issue bins and check out Marvel’s Secret Warriors, it probably delivers the essential Baron Strucker story as well as providing some DNA to the central plot of the Captain America: Winter Soldier film.
As you can plainly see, there is a great deal more to Strucker than the sniveling HYDRA coward that was dispatched so quickly in Age of Ultron. Coming back from the dead has always been the comic Strucker’s MO so perhaps we will see a cinematic resurrection in a future film or on Agents of SHIELD. Whatever the case, it’s hard to keep a good monocle down and perhaps someday we will see that big screen Fury/Strucker confrontation we missed out on this time around.
Baron Strucker shuffled off this mortal coil in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but this classic Marvel villain survived his cinematic debut. Well, at least most of him did.
Age of Ultron introduced fans to international arms dealer and all around scumbag Ulysses Klaue. Played by the great Andy Serkis, Klaue survived the film but had his gun smuggling arm ripped off by an angry Ultron. It was one of the most shocking and violent moments of the film but this dismemberment probably won’t be the last time we see Klaue.
The tales of Ulysses Klaw (as he is called in the comics) is almost like a tale of two villains. When Klaw appears in anything starring the Black Panther, the master of sound is a major threat and a master villain. Whenever Klaw appears elsewhere, he is kind of treated as a second rate also-ran.
Klaw made his debut in Fantastic Four #53 (1966) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (duh). Strangely enough, Klaw’s history begins with ties to his fellow Age of Ultron side villain Baron Strucker. You see, Klaw’s father Colonel Fritz Klaue served under Strucker in the Blitzkrieg Squad. As revealed in Fantastic Four Unlimited #1, the elder Klaue was sent to Wakanda by Hitler to learn the secrets of Vibranium. After the war, Klaue senior changed his name to Klaw (because awesome) and gave birth to our dirtbag in question.
Ulysses Klaw became a renowned physicist with questionable morals and traveled to Wakanda to steal the nation’s most vital natural resource, the rare element of Vibranium. This brought the younger Klaw into conflict with the then king of Wakanda T’Chaka, who Klaw murdered in front of his son. T’Chaka’s son T’Challa attacked Klaw and made the regicidal madman pay by taking his right hand. Don’t believe for a second that it was an accident that Serkis’ Klaue lost his hand in Age of Ultron, because, like his comic book counterpart, I think it’s a safe bet that Serkis will return with his sonic emitter gun in place of his lost hand.
In the comics, Klaw was able to convert himself into pure sound (as one does) and uses his sonic emitter to control his new form and to send out solid blasts of sound. Klaw took on T’Challa, now in the guise of the Black Panther, and the Fantastic Four in the Panther’s first outing and has remained the King of Wakanda’s most persistent foe ever since.
Another cool little Age of Ultron connection took place in Avengers #54-55, which also happened to be the issues where an unsuspecting fandom first met the villain of the hour, Ultron. Klaw was part of the second incarnation of the Masters of Evil led by the mysterious Crimson Cowl. When the cowl of this new villain was pulled back, Ultron was revealed, so the events of Age of Ultron weren’t the first time that Klaw was a flunky of the robotic despot. As a member of Ultron’s Masters of Evil, Klaw was taken down once again by the Panther.
In the following years, whenever Klaw appeared in anything starring Black Panther, he has come across as a viable threat to the Marvel Universe, but whenever Klaw has appeared anywhere else, he has been portrayed as kind of a loser. Over the years, Klaw has been taken down by the likes of Ka-Zar, the Vision, the Thunderbolts, the West Coast Avengers, Daredevil (and you can bet Klaw’s mastery of sound played havoc with Daredevil’s radar sense,) and even Dazzler.
One of the more memorable visuals involving Klaw was in the first volume of Marvel’s Secret Wars (issues 6-12 to be exact) where Doctor Doom experimented on Klaw and dissected the master of sounds. Who can forget Klaw lying on Doom’s lab table, sliced up like a fine deli cheese? Recently Klaw has joined the Frightful Four and was even used as an instrument to take down the spree killer known as Carnage. But it is as Black Panther’s arch nemesis that Klaw truly shines, a role we will hopefully see him in, sound gun arm and all, when Black Panther hits theatres in 2018.