Fans were absolutely shocked at the debut of new Avengers: Age Of Ultron footage that showed at San Diego Comic-Con. This may be spoiler territory, so Avengers fans might want to tread lightly, but if you read the comics, you might know where this is all headed. The footage does indeed end on a cliffhanger, with the entire team felled and unconscious, possibly dead. Given the film's antagonist, we couldn't help but return to a memorable image in Avengers' comic history.
That's the cover for Ultron Unlimited, one of the many Ultron storylines being utilized for the film. Of course, comic fans know this image was misleading, as the heroes were certainly not dead. Instead, their brainwaves were being harnessed by Ultron in order to fill robot bodies, who would then become both slaves to Ultron but the Overlords for the rest of society.
The story, which was featured in Avengers #19-22, mirrors the new movie in that it begins with a mad dash to a factory (producing adamantium in the comics) that generates the substance that will eventually create Ultron. The original story is a globe-trotter as well, like the new film, which is off-putting: this is a story involving Ultron destroying an entire nation, the fake republic of Slorenia. His intention is to make them all robots, part of his goal to eliminate inefficiency (also a point suggested by The Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon). This takes into account the three-hour slaughter of an entire village.
Because Ultron was a long-running character at the time, the story was eventually about family. It was not only about Ultron's struggles with his creator (Hank Pym, aka Ant-Man), but also his growing affection for the Wasp, given that he and Pym share brain patterns. Like Vision, the android Ultron creates and then employs to help swap the Avengers' brain patterns, Ultron wants to be an Avenger too. But he wants to have a family of like-minded bots around him, his own Avengers, using their brain patterns. It gets more incestuous given that Vision is romantically involved with Scarlet Witch, leading Ultron to desire her as well. In the comics, the Vision also has brain patterns derived from Wonder Man. You can see how a killer robot would be confused.
If they mostly follow this storyline (which involves Ultron consistently generating versions of himself to battle the heroes), then the role Pym played will fall to Tony Stark. Which explains why Stark is the one who hasn't been mind-wiped or whatever in the footage. Robert Downey Jr. will likely get a nice acting exercise out of being the one connection between Ultron and the human world. This is where you can see the Less Than Zero echoes. James Spader even factors in. Tidy.
It is possible that it's just a random visual that Whedon created, sharing no DNA with the comics. Maybe Whedon does kill them all, maybe he has them switch bodies a la Freaky Friday. Regardless, tons of fans in San Diego saw the Avengers lying dead at Ultron's feet, or at least unconscious. What this comic proves is that this has happened before, and that Age Of Ultron could very well be sampling a good chunk of one of the most beloved Avengers stories of all time.