LOS ANGELES- Disney-owned Marvel Studios said on Thursday it has cast "Anchorman 2" and "This is 40" actor Paul Rudd to play the lead role in "Ant-Man," the next hero in its stable of comic book characters to go to the big screen.

Marvel said the choice of Rudd, 44, reflected the studio's desire "to cast actors that bring several dimensions to its onscreen heroes."

Rudd is a staple in the comic films from director Judd Apatow, such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and is currently in theaters in news anchor send-up "Anchorman 2: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."

The studio said in a statement that the plot is being kept under wraps. But in Marvel Comics, Ant-Man is a scientist who invents a substance that allows him to shrink his size and communicate with insects.

The film, to be directed by Edgar Wright, is scheduled for release in mid-2015.

Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel in 2009 for $4.3 billion. The studio is behind some of the most successful films of recent years, including the "Iron Man," "Avengers" and "Thor" franchises.

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