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In 'Captain America: Civil War,' Ant-Man finds his place in the Marvel world

A new clip from 'Civil War' shows Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) meeting other legendary Marvel heroes. Was the box office performance of last year's 'Ant-Man' movie seen as a disappointment?

Charles Sykes/AP
In this July 13, 2015 file photo, Paul Rudd attends a special screening of "Ant-Man" in New York. "Ant-Man" is getting a sequel. "Ant-Man and the Wasp," set for release on July 6, 2018, the studio announced in Thursday, Oct. 8.

The upcoming Marvel film "Captain America: Civil War" appears to include almost every Marvel hero seen so far in the studio's films, and fans recently got a glimpse at new hero Ant-Man teaming up with more experienced characters.

Actors from "Civil War," including Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, and Paul Rudd, recently appeared on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and during their appearance, a clip showed Mr. Rudd’s character Ant-Man meeting other heroes. 

"How about our other recruit?" Captain America (Mr. Evans) asks Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

When Ant-Man, also known as Scott Lang, emerges, he is especially impressed by Captain America. 

"It's an honor," Scott tells Captain America, then tells Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), "I know you, too. You're great."

"Captain America: Civil War," which will be released next month, will feature various Marvel characters, including Captain America, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and The Winter Soldier (Mr. Stan), choosing sides when a debate emerges over superheroes' rights.

Ant-Man is the newest superhero on the scene in the very crowded Marvel universe – his movie of the same name debuted last summer. 

It was also a box office success by any normal metric, becoming the 14th-highest-grossing film of the year, ahead of such successes as "Straight Outta Compton" and "Mad Max: Fury Road." 

But judging by the ultra-successful Marvel standards is a bit different – since the creation of the Marvel universe in 2008 with "Iron Man," "Ant-Man" is one of the lowest-grossing movies domestically to have been released since then, ahead only of the 2008 "Incredible Hulk" movie starring Edward Norton and the 2011 "Captain America" film "Captain America: The First Avenger."

Is this a problem, or is becoming a hit in its own right enough for "Ant-Man"? 

The movie was released during a crowded superhero summer, coming out about two and a half months after Marvel’s own "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and a few weeks before Fox's "Fantastic Four." "Ant-Man" was also not, for example, another "Captain America" movie – it was based on a hero that was new to noncomic book fans and with powers that might confuse newbies. 

"Considering the movie's lesser-known source material and rocky production process, Marvel and corporate parent Disney can probably live with the results," Los Angeles Times writer Oliver Gettell wrote following the movie's opening weekend, which was the lowest of any Marvel movie besides "Hulk." (Original "Ant-Man" director Edgar Wright departed and was replaced by Peyton Reed.) "If [the 2014 movie] 'Guardians of the Galaxy' proved the blockbuster strength of the Marvel brand, 'Ant-Man' suggests that strength has limits. Lacking the whiz-bang space operatics of the former film and the name recognition of, say, 'The Avengers' or 'Iron Man,' 'Ant-Man' was marketed as a more comedic, smaller-scale take on the superhero genre, and its diminished scope is reflected in its box office tally." 

Rudd is most likely best known for his comedic talents, having starred in such films as "Anchorman," "This Is 40," and "Role Models."

Variety reporter Brent Lang writes that few other companies could have experienced an opening weekend like that of "Ant-Man" with a little-known character.

"What's more troubling is that 'Ant-Man' shows that even with the strongest brand in comic book movies behind it, audiences won't show up to see just any costumed vigilante," Mr. Lang writes. "Marvel may have felt emboldened by the success of 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' which took marginal figures and fashioned them into film stars, but [director] James Gunn’s pop culture-infused direction helped elevate that material. There simply wasn’t enough to distinguish 'Ant-Man' from the onslaught of origin stories and superhero films. Standing out from the pack will only get harder."

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