James Spader in <i>The Avengers</i>

Much more than a robot ... James Spader joins The Avengers

Marvel have announced that actor James Spader, one of the top providers of eccentric characters working today, will play the villain in The Avengers sequel.

The last time I saw Spader on screen he was a middle management corporate quasi-sociopath in The Office, and we'll soon see him in The Blacklist as America's number one terrorist, so the step to super villain should be a natural extension.

But his voice aside, we may not recognise Spader in the role, as he plays a robot.

Ultron as portrayed in Marvel's <i>Age of Ultron</i> series.

Ultron as portrayed in Marvel's Age of Ultron series. Photo: Marvel

The three-time Emmy winner will suit up as the title character Ultron in new movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, directed by Avengers' director Joss Whedon.

Whedon, who told his Twitter followers that he was "#madthrilledbtw" (mad thrilled by the way) with the casting, has previously spoken to Entertainment Weekly magazine about the role.

"As a character I love him, because he's so pissed off," Whedon said of Ultron, who has appeared in Marvel comics since 1968 in varying forms, but primarly as a powerful robot focused on destroying humanity.

James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary

Known for eccentric characters ... James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary

"He's not a happy guy, which means he's an interesting guy. He's got pain. And the way that manifests is not going to be standard robot stuff."

This quote would seem to back fans on social media who have spent the last few hours pouring over Marvel's statement, highlighting the phraseology that Spader will "play" Ultron not "voice" him as proof Spader will actually appear in the film.

"I knew right away what I wanted to do with him. He’s always trying to destroy the Avengers, goddamn it, he’s got a bee in his bonnet," continues Whedon.

James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington in <i>The Blacklist</i>

James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington in The Blacklist

"So we’ll take away some of those powers because at some point everybody becomes magic and I already have someone who’s a witch."

That "someone" is Scarlet Witch, a character who has successfully hexed Ultron in the comic books, though he has also taken over Iron Man's suit in the past. All up, he's a game changer.

Whedon has also indicated that Tom Hiddleston's Loki will not appear in the film, though he plays a large role in Thor: The Dark World which releases in Australian on 31st October.

Ultron as portrayed in Marvel's <i>Age of Ultron</i> series.

Ultron as portrayed in Marvel's Age of Ultron series. Photo: Marvel

"Every movie is going to be a different villain," Whedon said.

"Loki’s awesome, and he is awesome in Thor 2. But The Avengers is a different thing. I worked with Tom more than any other actor [in the last film], because he was the only villain and there were six heroes. And he was as great as anyone I’ve ever worked with, and I get why people loved the character. But it’s an Avengers movie."

The expectations on the film will be high, with The Avengers currently the third most successful film at the global box office ever with takings of US$1.5 billion and Iron Man 3 in fifth on US$1.2 billion.

Spader has played some of the big screens most memorable kooks, from Pretty in Pink, to Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and Secretary. He most recently played an eccentric lobbyist in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

Fans have had fun on social media since the announcement pitching film as the sequel to Less Than Zero, the 1987 film that starred Spader and Robert Downey Jr, who plays Iron Man.

Whedon has of course responded, by pointing out the pair had already appeared in 1985's Tuff Turf.

Let's just hope he casts Maggie Gyllenhaal as Scarlet Witch, so the fun can continue.

Avengers: Age of Ultron will arrive in cinemas worldwide in May 2015.

FULL MARVEL STATEMENT

"James Spader will face off against Earth's Mightiest Heroes as the villain in Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to 2012's record-breaking Marvel's The Avengers. The Emmy Award-winning actor will play Ultron in the Avengers' much anticipated return to the big screen from writer/director Joss Whedon. The film comes to theaters on May 1, 2015.

"Spader earned three Emmy Awards for his role as Alan Shore on Boston Legal and The Practice, and will return to television this fall in NBC's highly anticipated series The Blacklist. Most recently Spader was seen in the critically-acclaimed film Lincoln directed by Steven Spielberg and has previously worked with a long list of accomplished film directors including David Cronenberg, Curtis Hansen, Sidney Lumet, Mike Nichols, Tim Robbins, Robert Rodriguez, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone. David Mamet also directed Spader in the Broadway play Race.

Avengers: Age of Ultron will bring the Marvel Universe's biggest heroes together again to face one of their biggest villains, with Marvel's The Avengers director Joss Whedon returning to write and direct the sequel. Marvel's The Avengers was released in 2012 and went on to earn $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the third-largest grossing movie of all time."