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
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.