Warning: Major spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron below.
Avengers: Age of Ultron introduced us to many things. A controversial romance. Unpredictable A.I. Clint’s side job as a farmer. But the film included another introduction that will have a large impact on the MCU: Ulysses Klaue. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Klaue is a South African arms dealer with connections to Tony Stark and vibranium. He could care less about Ultron’s deadly dogma or the Avengers’ mission to stop him; he is there to sell weapons to the highest bidder and the repeated supervillain/superhero interruptions in his work place are really cramping his style. Last we see of Klaue, he is left with a large amount of money in his bank account and one less arm, thanks to Ultron’s daddy-issues hissy fit.
This characterization is a pretty far cry from the Klaw in the comics: a Nazi-raised physicist obsessed with sound. However, there are some key similarities and they set up for the future in Black Panther. In the comics, “Klaw” also travels to Wakanda and steals vibranium. Instead of paying for his crime with a branding, Klaw loses his right hand to the successor of the Black Panther after Klaw killed the previous superhero. Klaw later comes back as a full-fledged supervillain, complete with a sonic emitter prosthetic created from vibranium, which can create anything using just sound. MCU’s Klaue’s missing arm and possession of vibranium seem to be a set up for his future villainy.
This does leave a few questions about motive and relationships. Klaue’s hand loss is due to Ultron and, by proxy, the Avengers, not the Black Panther. Does Klaue’s anger towards the Avengers and Ultron extend to the Black Panther? Or will that enmity lie in his past? Based off of Klaue’s brand, his time in Wakanda was not entirely pleasant. Perhaps the conflict between Klaue and the Black Panther originates from his theft of the vibranium. Or maybe the conflict has yet to come and will occur in Black Panther. The possibilities are numerous.
Another question we are left to speculate is Klaue’s evolution into Klaw. While violence is no surprise from an arms dealer, it remains to be seen why Klaue will choose a sonic emitter, as opposed to, say, an assault rifle or chain saw as a prosthetic weapon. Unless Klaue is also secretly a physicist, he probably won’t be creating a sonic emitter himself. Klaue did mention having knowledge of the HYDRA experiments to the Maximoff twins, which implies a connection to HYDRA. This opens up the possibility of Klaue being supported by HYDRA and outfitted in HYDRA tech to become Klaw. Based off of MCU’s heavy focus on HYDRA, this seems like a feasible option.
Overall, Ulysses Klaue is an interesting and intriguing villain. His portrayal by Andy Serkis presents him as a renegade that sees the value in both weapons and information, and knows when to use which. Serkis is a strong and versatile actor; it is nice to see him in a role that doesn’t require him to be green-screened out of the film. Every superhero needs a good super villain and the odds are looking good for the Black Panther having a worthy opponent. As for the why and how of Klaue, I’m sure we can come up with all sorts of theories while we wait three years.
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