Paul Bettany's Vision is sure to play a major role in the future of the MCU. After all, in Avengers: Infinity War, we'll see Thanos pursue the Infinity Gems — and one of them is planted in Vision's forehead! But Captain America: Civil War gave us some ominous hints that the Vision's story may be very different to the comic book version. Is he becoming a villain in the MCU?
For the Greater Good
Let's start by looking at Vision's motives in Civil War. He chooses to side with Iron Man in support of the Sokovia Accords because of a very utilitarian philosophy; he argues that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. It's a position that we've seen many logic-based characters take; in fact, it was most famously stated by Leonard Nimoy's Spock in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
This philosophy has a troubled history. Criticizing Spock's argument in his book Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, Nyota Uhura comments:
"[History is] filled with groups who have decided that their needs were more important than others. The result: slavery, genocide."
Vision's perspective is actually a lot more problematic than Spock's position, though. Spock's argument was ultimately in favor of his own self-sacrifice — the one had decided to give his life for the sake of the many. Vision, however, is actively choosing to impose the will of the many on to the shoulders of the few. It's a subtle difference, but a crucial one, and it places Vision in some very dangerous ethical territory.
J. K. Rowling revisited this philosophy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where she revealed that the dark wizard Grindelwald's motto was "For the Greater Good". This motto was used to justify the atrocities of Grindelwald's rise to power in Nazi Germany. That gives you an idea of just how extreme the consequences of this idea can be.
A Dangerous Kill-Shot
Unlike Spock, Vision chooses to embrace his emotions. This is most notable in the developing romance between Vision and Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch; in the comics, the two married (and, in a weird mystical plot, had twins). Civil War used this romance to reveal just how troublesome emotions could be for a being like Vision.
Upset over his battle with Scarlet Witch, Vision is asked to shoot Anthony Mackie's Falcon out of the sky. He misses, and instead his attack strikes Don Cheadle's War Machine. War Machine is shot out of the sky, and only his armor protects him. He's almost killed.
Think about it: Vision's shot was powerful enough to almost kill a man in War Machine armor. If it had struck the less-armored Falcon, it would undoubtedly have been a kill-shot. In emotional turmoil, Vision lost control and lashed out at a friend in an attack that — had it struck home — would have been fatal.
Could Vision Be A Future Villain?
Vision is sure to play a major role in Avengers: Infinity War — with an Infinity Gem in his forehead, he's going to be one of Thanos's main targets! The reality is that there's far too much going on in Infinity War to use him as a villain so early on. In fact, it's possible that a nobler version his "good of the many" logic could see Vision surrender himself to Thanos to save the Earth.
Presuming Vision survives Infinity War, though, it's possible that Marvel is once again playing the long game — setting up a powerful member of the Avengers who has the potential to turn rogue. Over in the comics, it's not unusual for Vision's programming bring him into conflict with his fellow Avengers, and I can easily see the pattern repeated in a future Avengers film. If this is indeed the direction Marvel is planning to take, I suspect we'll see an increasing focus on Vision, with careful development of his character — including the classic relationship with Scarlet Witch.
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So we have an android with tremendous power, a dangerous philosophy, and a lack of experience with emotions. Vision is one of the most powerful of the Avengers, but he may also be the most dangerous. In the comics, Vision was created by Ultron to be a weapon used against the world — could that yet happen? Is Vision's path going to turn him into a villain in the #MCU?
Do you think Vision is going to become a villain?
Poll Image: Marvel Studios