From the first trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron, with its creepy rendition of Pinocchio’s “I’ve Got No Strings,” we know that Ultron seeks to free himself, and the human race, from the physical and metaphorical strings holding them down. But while he delights in the fact that, upon achieving artificial intelligence and something approaching the Singularity, “there are no strings on me,” there are still switches. Throughout the movie, characters (both good and bad) and plot developments are activated through the use of code words or literal buttons.
In fact, for the past ten years and more, in almost all of his properties, Joss Whedon has placed entire dramatic arcs around a switch being thrown. Sometimes it serves simply as a deus ex machina, but on other occasions, Whedon has used the trope to explore issues of control and ownership, over both men and women.