Paul Bettany doesn’t have a deep history with comic books. After all, he’s English. Not that comics are an exclusively American enterprise, but he wasn’t all that versed in the artform before he signed up to voice J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark’s semi-sentient computer system, in the first “Iron Man.”
“I had no idea how rich and complex this world was, and how intricate the relationships between the characters were,” Bettany tells us. “It’s been heartening to find out, because I spend a large part of my year being in these films.”
Indeed, Bettany has returned again and again as J.A.R.V.I.S., appearing in so many movies that his character wound up evolving, in a way. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” he became Vision, the omnipotent being who joined with the other do-gooder superheroes, as he does again in “Captain America: Civil War.”
There’s an increasing amount of intel to process, and Bettany says he’ll frequently bug the filmmakers to explain the nitty-gritty. They also give him plenty of homework.
“We all — or maybe it’s just me — get packages. Marvel and [producer] Kevin Feige sent me relevant comic books,” Bettany says. He likes working for lifelong fans. “They know they’re doing basically what they did as kids, but at a super high level. To me they are Yodas.”
In “Civil War,” Vision is grappling with his powers while being essentially a child.
“The fun bit is having to imagine just being born in the last movie,” he says. “You get to imagine what it’s like to have these superpowers and be omnipotent, and yet be totally naive.”