The android known as Vision has a more interesting history than you might suppose, and could very well have a stranger future than you may imagine.
Vision: A Brief Overview
What if there were a machine that operated exactly like a human, but all the parts were synthetic (man-made) instead of being organic (natural)?
That’s the question that Vision’s existence attempts to answer.
With an origin that differs wildly from comic to film, and an almost godlike powerset, Vision’s interesting story is often overshadowed by some of the more boisterous Avengers.
In the comics, Vision was created by the villainous robot Ultron, to be used as a weapon against Ant-Man (Hank Pym, who had created Ultron and was in the Avengers at the time).
When Vision attempted to attack Ant-Man at the Avengers Mansion, the Avengers talked him down by exploring his origins with him. During this discussion, they all discovered that Vision’s brainwaves were copied from a deceased Avenger known as Wonder Man. They later also discovered that Vision’s body was a synthetic clone of the first Human Torch, which contains a solar gem (which powers his body). This Human Torch was one of the very first Marvel superheroes, an android – not to be confused with Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm who went by the same name years later.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Vision’s origins are a little different.
Ultron possesses a Mind-Stone-powered synthetic body he wants to upload his mind to. Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Bruce Banner (Hulk) beat him to it, and upload Stark’s AI program, J.A.R.V.I.S., into the synthetic body instead, which creates Vision.
Regardless of which version of Vision we’re discussing, they both basically have the same powerset: The ability to use their gemstone to create beams of energy, and the ability to change their density.
Vision is a master of altering his density. For instance, many fans believe that Vision has the power of flight. This isn’t technically true – he shifts his density so that he’s lighter than air, which in turns allows him to experienced controlled floating. It could be argued that qualifies as ‘the power of flight’, but flight itself isn’t a naturally-occurring power for Vision.
Using this same technique, he’s also able to phase through walls like a ghost. He’s also able to become dense enough as to be invulnerable, which gives him the appearance of super-strength.
Due to his synthetic body, Vision is immune to diseases which could kill humans, and also has enhanced senses (sight, hearing, etc).
Vision doesn’t need equipment: Vision IS the equipment.
Vision can count the Avengers among his allies, if not his friends.
While generally (and quite ironically) more comfortable around people than his beau, Scarlet Witch, he’s more than happy to spend time alone with her. They had two children, Thomas and William, but they sadly died. This drove Wanda to breaking point, but Vision’s inability to truly experience the full depth of human emotions may have saved him from the torment of losing his children – or perhaps everyone grieves differently.
As he remembers what it was like to be untrusted, Vision can often be found speaking on behalf of those that might present possible security risks (such as former villains).
Vision: Rogues Gallery
Similar to the love of his life, Scarlet Witch, Vision is more of a team player than a solo actor.
This means that he hasn’t drawn a lot of attention to himself outside of Avenger missions, and as such he doesn’t have a gallery of rogues or an archnemesis.
He is, however, occasionally attacked and/or captured by Ultron.
Vision: Common Themes
Stories that focus on Vision tend to deal with more philosophical musings when compared to the other Avengers.
What is the nature of humanity? Are emotions any less ‘real’ if they come from technology? What is the meaning of heroism? What is the difference between duty and obligation? What is the price of free will?
Similar to DC’s Superman, the nature of Vision’s origins also lend the character to being used in Sci-Fi-heavy stories.
Vision: Cultural Impact
Considering the almost-godlike levels of power he wields, it seems strange how little Vision wishes to get involved in the world around him.
Perhaps it’s his philosophical nature, or his technologically-gifted ability to consider multiple possible outcomes from any set of circumstances, but Vision often chooses the path of neutrality where appropriate.
Speaking in a wider sense, the upcoming TV show WandaVision (which is centred on Scarlet Witch and Vision) is sure to have some kind of social impact as the first MCU-specific TV series.
The idea for the show lends itself to multiple possible outcomes. Sadly, being bereft of a Vision-like ability to comprehend all those variables, us mere humans can only wait and see what happens.