UP­PING THE ANTE

His char­ac­ter might be small in stature but Paul Rudd is think­ing big ahead of the re­lease of new su­per­hero flick Ant-Man And The Wasp

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - JAMES WIGNEY

Imag­ine hav­ing to walk on stage af­ter the great­est band of all time. Paul Rudd is try­ing hard not to. Avengers: In­fin­ity War, the third of Marvel’s all-star team-ups, has made an as­ton­ish­ing $2.7 bil­lion at the global box of­fice, be­com­ing the high­est-gross­ing su­per­hero film ever, and the fourth high­est of any movie.

No pres­sure, then, for An­tMan And The Wasp, which opens this week as the 20th en­try in the all-con­quer­ing Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse.

Rudd, who first played the part of small-time-thief-witha-con­science Scott Lang, who gains the abil­ity to shrink thanks to a hi-tech suit in the 2015 sur­prise hit Ant-Man, says it’s best not to con­tem­plate the Avengers jug­ger­naut at all.

“I guess I am not re­ally try­ing to look at it that way be­cause it’s akin to be­ing a band that fol­lows The Bea­tles in con­cert,” he says with a wry chuckle.

“In­stead I am look­ing at it as just, ‘Oh, you know our movie has its own per­son­al­ity and story and char­ac­ters that re­ally do ex­ist in the uni­verse and hope­fully some of the tonal changes will be wel­comed’.”

Ant-Man and Jeremy Ren­ner’s Hawk­eye were con­spic­u­ous in their ab­sence from In­fin­ity War. Rudd laughs at the sug­ges­tion he might have needed a spe­cial per­mis­sion note from Marvel head hon­cho Kevin Feige, ex­cus­ing him from the uni­verse-shak­ing bat­tle with the Mad Ti­tan, Thanos.

“I tell peo­ple, ‘I was in it – but I was just so small that you couldn’t see me’,” Rudd says.

“But it’s such a lame joke that I just kind of stopped say­ing that.”

In fact, such dad jokes are en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate for An­tMan And The Wasp, which picks up af­ter the events of Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War with Lang un­der house ar­rest, per­fect­ing close-up magic and try­ing to re­con­nect with his daugh­ter Cassie. Rudd and the Marvel brains trust are hop­ing that the new movie will bring some much needed lev­ity into the MCU, es­pe­cially af­ter the dark fi­nale of In­fin­ity War.

While not shirk­ing on the ac­tion, Ant-Man carved out a more fam­ily-friendly niche in the MCU, with the themes of parental bond­ing and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties set to con­tinue in the se­quel as Lang and his some­time part­ner Hope (Evan­ge­line Lilly, now fully suited up as The Wasp) take on a new threat known as Ghost, while try­ing to res­cue Hope’s mother (fran­chise new­comer Michelle Pfeif­fer) from her decades of limbo, lost in the quan­tum realm.

“A lot of the themes have to do with par­ents and chil­dren and those re­la­tion­ships and clearly it doesn’t seem to go as dark as some of the other ones,” says Rudd, who made his name in very adult come­dies in­clud­ing An­chor­man, The 40-Year-Old Vir­gin and This Is 40 be­fore join­ing the MCU. “So I do think that Ant-Man does oc­cupy that space maybe a lit­tle bit more than, say, The Win­ter Sol­dier.”

As sug­gested by the ti­tle, Lilly’s butt-kick­ing Wasp is very much front and cen­tre in the new movie.

Marvel won’t re­lease its first fe­male led su­per­hero film un­til next year’s Cap­tain Marvel, but this two-han­der feels like an im­por­tant step along the way, and re­flects the stu­dio’s push to em­brace more di­ver­sity in what has un­til now been al­most en­tirely a su­per­boys’ club.

“With­out a doubt,” agrees Rudd. “And this is not in any way a re­ac­tion to any sort of move­ment. If you go back to the ’60s (comic books) it was al­ways Ant-Man and The Wasp. That be­ing said, it’s awe­some see­ing these films also be­ing made with fe­male leads kick­ing ass and be­ing tough and be­ing heroic – as they are.”

For most of his ca­reer, Rudd’s stock in trade has been a sharp mind and a gift for im­prov, not a buff bod. But shred­ded abs are more or less manda­tory in the su­per­hero world.

Since re­veal­ing an im­pres­sively ripped rig in the first movie, he’s also re­alised that at the age of 49, it’s eas­ier to hang on to it than to try to get it back.

“It’s al­ways built into my day to do it. But just ge­net­i­cally and bi­o­log­i­cally and ev­ery other way I have to work re­ally hard just to kind of get by and to look OK,” he says.

Ant-Man And The Wasp is now show­ing at Aus­tralia Fair, Pa­cific Fair, Robina, Coolan­gatta, Tweed Heads and Har­bour­town Cin­e­mas.

Evan­ge­line Lilly and Paul Rudd star in Marvel’s lat­est su­per­hero movie, Ant-Man And The Wasp.

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