2023 started on the wrong foot for Marvel Studios as Ant-Man 3 fell flat both financially and critically, earning only $476.1 million at the global box office and earning a measly 46% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Marvel had high hopes for the threequel to succeed before its debut, pitting Paul Rudd's hero against Kang the Conqueror in an epic battle meant to kickstart the entire story of the Multiverse Saga.
Paul Rudd Returns to the MCU Post-Ant-Man 3
Paul Rudd made his first appearance in the MCU since Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania flopped in February 2023, voicing a 17th-century take on Scott Lang in Episode 8 of Marvel Studios' What If...? Season 2.
This episode of What If...? Season 2 took fans back in the Marvel timeline to the year 1602 where Hayley Atwell's Captain Peggy Carter was displaced and tasked to help save that universe from destruction.
In this universe, Scott Lang is part of a Robin Hood-esque trio featuring Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, who are first seen stealing from Prince Loki before Captain Carter enlists them to steal King Thor's scepter.
Teaming up with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, this unique group of Avengers storms Thor's castle to steal the scepter, with Lang showing off his skills as a swordsman while also using his classic Ant-Man shrinking skills.
This ends with the shocking reveal that Steve Rogers was displaced in time as well, having hit the Time Stone in Thanos' gauntlet during an alternate Avengers: Infinity War and being sent to the future subsequently.
When Will Ant-Man Return to the MCU?
Paul Rudd was one of more than two dozen MCU actors to reprise his live-action role in the animated What If...?, with many wondering where he will go from here in future MCU projects.
Rudd has not commented on the potential of an Ant-Man 4 yet, only saying he does not know anything about whether it is happening. But that's not to say he won't be back in the MCU before that film happens.
Should the Kang storyline continue after Jonathan Majors was fired from the role following his domestic assault court case, Rudd will likely be an important piece of the next Avengers film, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, considering his history with the antagonist.
But with that film's release now delayed until at least 2026, it may be an extended period until fans see Rudd's shrinking hero take the spotlight once more.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is now streaming on Disney+.