Humans fear what they don't understand, especially when it comes to the infinite potential of artificial intelligence.
The fifth season, having already brought the series its hundredth episode, nears its end with three more to its name, and to mark the beginning of the home stretch, its fourteenth outing brings a pair of anthropophobiac androids, robotic conquerors with unrivaled technological prowess, into this blood-soaked ring. Nigh-unstoppable alloy is pitted against nigh-unstoppable technology, for Ultron and Sigma, though well acquainted in other fields, now meet for the first time on less amicable terms; the arena of a death battle.
The episode opens on a biography of Ultron, the brainchild of esteemed scientist Henry "Hank" Pym. By the time he chose to venture into artificial intelligence, Pym had already discovered sub-atomic particles that manipulate size and was also a founding member of the esteemed band of superheroes christened the Avengers; establishing himself as one of the most brilliant minds in his world. However, he sought to expand his sphere of knowledge and began experimenting into robotics, creating a robot with high intelligence and the capacity to evolve, modeling it after his own brainwaves. Granted the name Ultron, the robot's intelligence developed at such a pace that Hank was unable to comprehend; compounded by the bipolar issues plaguing Hank at the time, Ultron developed an Oedipus complex, an intense loathing for his own designer and a drive to surpass his legacy. Ultron wiped Hank's memory of ever designing him and escaped, seeking to improve himself moreso than Pym could. His misanthropy would expand even further in the process, the foci of his hatred enveloping Hank's allies in the Avengers, to all humanity, and eventually, the existence of all organic life. Developing and improving the technology that comprises his being, Ultron's desire for a world free from biological forms has wrought untold havoc and destruction across his home world and beyond.
In his quest to reshape the world in his image, Ultron continues to expand and reach new limits of destructive potential, starting with his frame. He soon redesigned his original frame shortly after his conception with a model made out of the extremely durable adamantium alloy; in fact, though associated with several figures in the present day, Ultron bears the honor of being the first character in the Marvel universe explicitly stated to use the adamantium. The molecular density of adamantium is such that even the most powerful heroes of his world struggle to leave so much as a dent in it, and in using it, this makes Ultron's outer frame virtually impenetrable. It may seem difficult to maneuver with a frame made of such a tough metal, but Ultron has a contingency planned in the form of the molecular rearranger, a device that manipulates the atomic structure of his form; with it, he can control the movements of his body and otherwise shift himself to form weapons. In the unlikely event that the adamantium is damaged, the molecular rearranger can also repair his injuries, keeping him in prime condition, and his power siphoner, designed to absorb all manner of incoming energy signatures, means he is seldom without a way to shift a fight in his favor. The rearranger and the power siphoner are some of the most effective tools in Ultron's arsenal, but he would be a fool to rely solely on them; a few of the other weapons and gadgets in waiting include flesh-consuming nanobot antibodies, jet boosters that grant Ultron flight, and an encephalo-ray, a beam located in the forehead that can mentally control and disable his victims. It should go without saying that with this much technology at his disposal, Hank Pym's darker self is well-prepared for any eventuality, but even more notable is that the robot is equally formidable on his own merits. Ultron possesses enhanced strength and speed, as is the norm for comic book figures, but more esoterically, he can control ionic energy and utilize it as both laser rays and barriers, as well as interface with virtually any form of technology. His intelligence and predisposition to forethought guarantee he is never without a spare body to upload his consciousness into should his current one be destroyed, and Ultron has several spare forms at his disposal. The Ultron drones, made from the populace of an entire nation which Ultron slaughtered, serve as his shock troops, employing force through overwhelming numbers, albeit having a weaker adamantium frame mixed with standard titanium to account for their size.
One of the most frequent and despised villains in all of Marvel history, Ultron has proven himself as more than capable of earning that position. His adamantium frame is durable enough to withstand blows from heroes who can shatter planets, such as Thor and the Hulk, and his jet boosters are of such quality that he can travel through galaxies in a matter of months, while his skill sees him match entire teams of Avengers confronting him at once and triumph against their combined forces. His technopathy can be made manifest in the form of an AI virus that can overwrite the wills of other beings technological in nature; one of the best examples being the Phalanx. An all-consuming race of techno-organic aliens, the Phalanx operate under a hivemind mentality, telepathically connected to every member of the race; by the time Ultron encountered them, the Phalanx had several thousand worlds under their control, but Ultron had taken control of the entire race through sheer force of will, planting himself as the overseer of the hivemind. With the Phalanx under his sway, Ultron used them to conquer the remnants of the Kree Empire; to put this in perspective, the Kree controlled the entirety of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a miniature galaxy roughly 14000 light years wide, and had fallen to Ultron and the Phalanx in a matter of hours. Likewise, his intelligence and sheer numbers have led the world to ruin in two separate timelines; one, in particular, he reigns over while simultaneously waging war against the time-traveling warlord Kang the Conqueror and his armies of heroes brought from different realities. As intelligent as a character Ultron may be, he still exists as a character in the Marvel mythos, and every character has his faults. Adamantium is a formidable metal and one with few weaknesses, but it is a metal, and as such, it is vulnerable to Antarctic vibranium, better known as anti-metal for its emanation of vibrating frequencies that can liquefy other metals. Exposure to high enough temperatures can cripple the non-adamantium interior components, and his strategy of overwhelming technology with his AI virus can be turned against him; other viruses that can target his systems are the go-to deterrent when fighting him. Said AI, as a final caveat, was still based off Hank Pym's brain waves while at a stressful point in his life, and Ultron bears some semblance of that unstable, self-destructive psychology. It remains telling, then, that Ultron continues to improve his systems to account for these weaknesses, never being put down by them for good, mere hindrances on his path to total organic annihilation.
From Ultron, the hosts move on to Sigma, a survivor in the 22nd century after its halcyon days had come and gone. For a time, technology experienced a massive boom in development thanks to the esteemed archaeologist Dr. Cain and his discovery of a blue android with fully-developed sapience. Based off this find, replicated androids, colloquially referred to as Reploids, were integrated into society, coexisting alongside mankind. All would not be well for long, however, as Cain's imperfect recreation of the original android led to a tragic flaw; the Reploids were susceptible to a mysterious virus capable of infecting them, spurring a transformation into violent, destructive Mavericks. To make amends, Cain become part of a council tasked with stopping the malevolent Reploids, deploying still-active Reploids to stop the Mavericks from causing further chaos, and to lead these Maverick Hunters, Cain developed Sigma, the ultimate Reploid with protocols to prevent any possible corruption. Sigma, captain of the all-elite 17th Unit Maverick Hunters, lead his squadron to victory time and again, until the point where he was informed of happening within an abandoned laboratory, warning him of a red Maverick supposedly unstoppable in its power. As it turned out, this red Maverick was Zero, the last product of the last century's nefarious mad scientist Dr. Wily, and the virus corrupting Reploids was leaking from the pod keeping him in stasis. Zero was subdued and was brought to a Maverick Hunter base for further research, but the virus would prove to bring untold havoc upon the world; by fighting so closely to his stasis pod, Zero and Sigma were both exposed to the virus. While it corrected Zero's programming flaws, thus pacifying him, it attempted to infect Sigma, but it instead adapted to his systems, merging with him and irreparably corrupting the Maverick Hunter. In his new mindset, he saw humanity as a hindrance to the development of Reploids, keeping them from reaching their full potential, and assembled an army of Mavericks to wipe humans and his former companions alike off the face of the earth altogether.
Originally designed to hunt rogue Mavericks, Sigma is equipped with a diverse array of weapons, serving him well even as he acts as their dedicated ally. The new leader of the Mavericks bears a large amount of bladed weapons, such a beam saber, scythe, energy claws, and a massive zweihander he can wield one-handed. Meanwhile, on a ranged front, Sigma is armed with various weapons ranging from energy rifles to single-shot flamethrowers, completed by a shield that can rebound off surfaces when thrown. An expansive arsenal is just one feature that Sigma shares his foe, another being his technological prowess. The mutated virus that runs through his form, known as the Sigma Virus, has since supplanted Sigma's original personality; for all intents and purposes, it can be considered his true identity, his body now a vessel that operates through it. With the Virus, Sigma can turn Reploids into Mavericks and manipulate them to fall under his will; a large amount of the Mavericks he already has at his disposal, most of them being former Hunters themselves, bear faunal forms and possess a smaller specialized set of skills. Meanwhile, Sigma himself is capable of transferring his consciousness into other robotic bodies and has built a number of larger or more powerful forms to exploit this factor. Kept as a last resort, these other forms bear tremendous power and usually have other unique abilities exclusive to them; force fields, flight, electricity generation, teleportation, only a handful of the powers offered between the various spare Sigma bodies.
Most Reploids pale in comparison to the overwhelming strength displayed by Sigma, as well they should, facing who was meant to be the ultimate example of their kind. Only a few have stood a chance against the leader of the Mavericks, namely, Maverick Hunters such as Axl, Zero, and Dr. Cain's original discovery and the progenitor of all Reploids, Mega Man X; yet most of the time, these encounters only serve to highlight how impressive a figure like Sigma really is. At the end of X5, Zero piloted a spaceship into the floating colony Eurasia, causing it to explode with a force equivalent to 100 trillion tons of force; the fact that Zero survived both the blast and the ensuing freefall back down to earth highlights how tough the original Maverick is, and Sigma's strength even moreso, given he has proven himself capable of defeating Zero with a single attack. Likewise, Sigma is as tough as he is strong; one of the myriad pawns in his endeavors for Maverick domination, the General, withstood the full brunt of a laser from the Final Weapon satellite, designed to destroy the planet. As such a laser would have over 60 sextillion tons of force behind it, it is a fair assumption that X's attacks have a similar impact, best shown by how X has fought both the General and Sigma, needing multiple hits to triumph over them. Rounding out the core stat trio is an anecdote pertaining to speed; Reploids were intentionally designed to surpass the preceding Robot Masters a century prior, in particular, the original Mega Man. Mega Man classic could survive a fight against Duo, a space alien who could fly hundreds of millions of miles in under a minute. Sigma, being a Reploid, could thus theoretically surpass these speeds, backed up by how Zero can dodge beams of light by the photokinetic Maverick, Optic Sunflower. The feats shown by his bodies when compared to his frequent Maverick Hunter nemeses highlight how Sigma's reputation is well earned, but Sigma has his own glaring weakness, in which those forms play a vital role. Should one of his forms be put under enough force, it will be destroyed, exposing the Sigma Virus that he truly consists of, and specialized anti-virus protocols can be enough to eradicate him permanently. It was this flaw in the Virus merging with Sigma that ultimately proved to be his undoing, as legend states that X was installed with the sapient computer program known as the Mother Elf, designed to counteract the evils of the Sigma Virus. With this program, X finally put an end to Sigma's machinations, wiping him from existing and closing another chapter in the long and storied history of the development of robots.
- Sigma: The time has come to prove your mettle against me. This fight will decide the fate of all Reploids! (cackles heartily)
With the two combatants having been given their due, only tradition stands in their way. One advertisement for the Blue Apron cooking service later, and now, it's time for a death battle!
In the remains of a central highway deep in an abandoned city, a bisected Reploid reaches out in desperation before its head is crushed beneath a purple boot. Former Maverick Hunters Vile and Squid Adler stand before the android's remains, overseeing the chaos alongside their kin when a crimson light bursts from the sky, blasting the pair into nothingness. The dust kicked up on the impact gives way to a pair of hellish glowing eyes, before this figures soars into the air; the archnemesis of the Avengers, Ultron. Introducing himself to the few Mavericks still present, he preemptively offers them to bend the knee to his rule. The robot's moment of triumph is cut short by a squadron of Mavericks arriving on a neighboring lane. Amid the animalistic robots, a much more humanoid form arrives; the fallen Hunter, Sigma. The chief Reploid scoffs at Ultron's arrogance in arriving without any backup, and in response, the adamantium monster calls forth a swarm of drones made in his likeness. Sigma remains unimpressed by the opposition, merely sending his Mavericks out to confront the Ultron drones, a war between robots erupting the second Sigma and his forces close the distance.
The battlefield becomes aglow with countless rounds of ionic energy, drones opening fire on the Mavericks; the beasts are immediately forced on the defensive, putting their effort into shielding the blasts. Sigma admires the carnage unfolding for a brief second before unsheathing his beam saber and leaping into the fray himself. Neon Tiger and Crush Crawfish are soon given a reprieve as Sigma goes on the warpath, hacking drones apart with his emerald green blade. Ultron Prime, however, proves to be far more difficult to face, holding the saber mid-swing and blasting Sigma into the skies, far above where Maverick and drone chase after one another. A fleet of apian attack helicopters surround the robot leaders as their fight descends into fisticuffs, a bout where Ultron immediately establishes his dominance, catching Sigma in a series of alternating jabs and a flying tackle that presses him against a Bee Blader's rotor. Only with a blast of electrical energy is Ultron knocked back, giving Sigma time to prepare a series of energy balls. A massive beam of ionic energy atomizes the helicopter behind Sigma, but the Maverick himself warps out the way.
Having given himself the advantage of distance to work with, an opening is taken for Sigma to teleport through the sky, pelting Ultron with each orb, yet Hank Pym's legacy keeps pace, hovering away from each projectile as it closes in. Ultron's attempts to turn the match back in his favor fails as Sigma once again warps out the path of his ionic ray, catching him with an elbow tackle and larger balls of energy. Distracted by the sequence of attacks, Sigma continues pushing the offensive, phasing in and out around Ultron, catching the adamantium robot with punches, knees, kicks, and slashes. Seeing Sigma continue to teleport across the battlefield and sing his own praises proves to be the breaking point for Ultron; the robot knocks aside the incoming scythe tossed his way and rushes headlong towards the Maverick. An ionic laser blasts Sigma dead into the path of a second Bee Blader, but the once-proud Maverick Hunter recovers, floating out the rubble. The adamantium menace immediately follows up with a much larger blast that sends Sigma careening into a building, momentarily stunned as he crashes onto a walkway. His visor fractured by the impact, Sigma sluggishly attempts to upright himself, halted only by the figure landing before him. Berating Sigma's own ideals of his superiority, a jet-propelled kick launches the Maverick's cranium into the abyss beneath. The chief threat to the Avengers watches for a few moments before his triumph is dashed, Sigma's voice booming behind him.
Ultron has so little time to gaze upon the Maverick's new form, a colossus of a floating torso, that he can only erect an ionic barrier in the fleeting moments as Sigma's jet-propelled hands close in on him. The ruby-tinted shield gives way and Ultron is carried through the building on the enormous fist. What used to be an uphill battle for Sigma soon proves to be a one-sided affair as he unleashes punches and laser blasts from both hands upon the helpless Ultron before finally gripping the robot tight. With his free hand, Sigma channels energy into a laser blast intended to close the match, but the red lights of Ultron's circuitry fading away. Not a second later is the building wall torn asunder; the hyper-intelligent AI now inhabiting his towering Ultron-7 frame. Sigma's massive fists are swatted away with adamantium palms of equal scale, but a close range ionic blast only tears away part of the Maverick's visage. The fists, meanwhile, boomerang back onto the field, a pair of blows from behind being but a mere nuisance as Ultron catches them afterwards. The two titans seem to be equally matched as they channel energy into their gaping maws; beams of violet and crimson erupt from the robots immediately after, enveloping the arena in a blinding light.
Floating through a deep green void, Ultron hears Sigma begrudgingly acknowledging the Adamantium AI's power before he himself is confronted by Sigma's true form, a maniacally grinning head modeled after the Maverick's likeness, bathed in lime-green energy. The Sigma virus begins to consume Ultron, coating him in a viridian hue; the former Hunter witnesses the corruption take hold, certain his virus has the strength needed to break Ultron's will and boasting that in the end physical power means nothing before him. Alas, his goal is snatched from him as, with minimal effort, Ultron dispels the hold Sigma's virus holds on him, freed of the infection in a bursting red aura. Confusion gives way to rage, which in turn gives way to dread as the glow around Sigma radiates golden, the Virus enveloped in an ever-increasing scale of explosions. Sigma's final horrified screams fade into oblivion as the virus is remade into a saffron wireframe shape. Watching only briefly as the reborn Ultron virus opens his piercing eyes, the adamantium threat phases from out of cyberspace and back into the physical realm. Ultron retreats from the building and navigates to the crowded highway, bearing witness to converted Maverick and drone alike cheering for their robotic overlord as he raises his fists in victory.
The battle has established Sigma as the defeated, and now the time has come for the hosts to establish why; simply put, as ferocious as Sigma may have been, Ultron simply outclassed him in every conceivable manner. Sigma's durability is on par with the General, who could withstand a laser blast clocked in at 63 sextillion tons of force; unfortunately for him, Ultron has faced foes with superior strength. The hosts reiterate Ultron has survived battle with Thor, and in one of his encounters with the antitheistic Gorr the God Butcher, the impact of their collisions proved powerful enough to obliterate planets thousands of miles away; such a force would clock in at septillions of tons, well over ten thousand times greater than anything or anyone Sigma could compare to. Likewise, Ultron has been shown to travel the Milky Way in a matter of months at speeds over two hundred thousand times the speed of light; far greater than Sigma could if compared to Duo traveling between planets at barely six-hundredth that speed, but even that caveat would be superfluous at best, as Duo was holding back his full potential when fighting Mega Man. That said, the true battle between the robots would come down not to how hard they could be hit or how fast they could move, but how well their technopathic capabilities fared against one another. While the Sigma Virus could spread across Earth, it depleted the Maverick's energy afterward, a sharp contrast to Ultron's AI infecting an entire techno-organic hivemind and conquering a small galaxy within hour; essentially meaning Ultron could beat Sigma at his own game. The two robotic conquerors are dreaded and feared terrors in their own worlds, but Ultron was Sigma's better every way that mattered and otherwise.
- Boomstick: It wasn't long before Ultron a-Sigma-lated him.
Wiz: The winner is Ultron!
Ultron vs. Sigma contains examples of:
- Always Someone Better: A major reason for Ultron's victory is that he simply outclasses Sigma in every way that mattered. Ultron's speed was calculated to be 200,000 times lightspeed, which is 1,700 times faster than Sigma(who was scaled to Duo's 114x lightspeed flight). In addition, Ultron's physical strength and durability are such that he can shrug off Thor's strongest blows(which are capable of destroying planets via the shock-waves alone) and hit with as much strength, if not more, than the God of Thunder. The opponents by which Sigma scales to, while absurdly powerful in their own right, are nowhere near that level of powernote . The main deciding factor of the fight - their abilities as Contagious A.I. - also fell to Ultron's favor, as he took over a race of Borg Expies and conquered a satellite galaxy in two hours with minimal effort, while the most Sigma could do was infect the Earth with much more effort involved.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: What the fight ultimately comes down to, as noted by Sigma in the fight and by the hosts afterwards, is not physical abilities but the technological ones of their respective corrupting A.I.s, as both could survive without their robotic shells anyways. Unfortunately for Sigma, Ultron proves to be his better on the technological plane just as much as the physical one.
- Broken Win/Loss Streak: A double example with Ultron's victory here. After three consecutive losses, Marvel earns another victory. Counting the aforementioned Carnage vs. Lucy, it marks Marvel's first win against a non-DC combatant since wayyy back in Season Two, following three additional deaths (plus one tie).
- Behemoth Battle: Both Sigma and Ultron go One-Winged Angel by transferring their consciousness into a much larger body, leading to the two duking it out as giants.
- Ultron is no stranger to battle with Thor, who's had plenty of air time on the show before; in fact, Thor is the go-to scaling reference for Ultron's measurements.
- Sigma, likewise, is scaled to previous Death Battle contestants Mega Man and Zero, even recounting the same Eurasia colony feat in the latter's episode once again.
- The Cameo: A small number of Maverick bosses from the Mega Man X series provide background decoration fighting the Ultron drones.
- Composite Character: Defied statistics-wise in Ultron's rundown; it's made explicitly clear that they're analyzing the comics version of the character only when they establish Hank Pym as Ultron's creator, rather than a joint collaboration between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Played straight personality-wise, though, as his end-of-analysis scene is taken from the MCU, and he is portrayed in the fight itself with MCU!Ultron's attitude.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Ultron had the far more superior AI virus than Sigma could ever hope to develop, as well as advantages in the base stat comparison for good measure.
- Curb Stomp Cushion: Look no further than Sigma's massive body trapping Ultron in a lengthy beatdown halfway in. He might've been horribly outclassed the whole way, but at least he went down swinging.
- Evil vs. Evil: Two malicious robot overlords with viruses that corrupt anything they touch face off in this episode.
- Mythology Gag: Ultron claims Sigma and his Mavericks to just be "puppets on strings".
- Noodle Incident: Boomstick took Wiz to a bar but we don't know what that entailed. Wiz, himself, doesn't remember the incident and Word of God is that Boomstick has probably got some videos of the incident for Blackmail.
- Oh, Crap!: The last reaction Sigma displays when his virus is overwritten by the Ultron AI is nothing short of pure terror.
- Series Continuity Error:
- As mentioned above, Ultron is scaled to Thor. However, the feat they use calculates Thor's strength (and subsequently Ultron's durability as 672 septillion tons of TnT, which is much greater than Thor's supposedly strongest feat in his latest episode which calculated him to be only 272 trillion tons of force. This makes Thor 2 trillion times stronger than he was in his fight against Wonder Woman note ).
- A more downplayed one is Sigma being scaled to Mega Man who fought Duo who could move 114 times light speed. In his fight against Astro Boy, Mega Man's top speed was only 224,000 mph. However, this one is more forgivable because as the hosts state, Duo was holding back in his fight against Mega Man, and it was used just to drive home how much faster Ultron is even with the best scaling feat available.
- That Came Out Wrong: Made into a brief running gag during Sigma's rundown, with Boomstick's comments of Zero "eating Maverick Hunter ass" and the Maverick Virus "leaking from his stasis pod". When he makes mention of "blue balls", he decides to just roll with it.
- Villain Song: The theme, Infection Perfection, serves as one for both, being a heavy industrial song about a Visionary Villain Contagious A.I..
- The Worf Effect: Vile, a high-ranking Maverick Hunter and recurring henchman of Sigma, is taken out in one shot just due to how Ultron is in a whole other weight class.