WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, now playing in theaters.
While superhero fans may not usually care for tags such as the "Sexiest Man Alive," many were glad Paul Rudd copped the title in 2021, according to People Magazine. He's a nice guy, plus it helps that folks adore him as Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, come Ghostbusters: Afterlife, while his character, Gary, initially fits this bill, it also shapes Rudd's character as the film's most sadistic person.
In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Gary befriends Phoebe, not knowing she's Egon Spengler's granddaughter. He initially comes off charming, investigating quakes in Summerville, Oklahoma, and supporting her by liking her bad jokes. He enjoys her company because, as a seismologist, he's a nerd too and obsessed with science.
He later tries to get through to Egon's daughter, Callie, and remind her geeks aren't outsiders; thus, she should embrace Phoebe rather than be scared. It creates a wholesome space, but major cracks emerge when audiences reconcile his purpose and how he shirks responsibility.
When he sees Phoebe has a ghost trap and figures out her identity, he goads the kids into opening the trap up in the parking lot rather than speak to authorities about the spooky stuff happening. He uses the batteries from the school bus, even after seeing signs Egon imprisoned something sinister inside, which then unleashes the Terror Dogs.
They go on to wreck the town, possess him and Callie and bring Gozer to life, not to mention this unearths hundreds of spirits from the mines. However, Gary shoos the kids off in the parking lot and makes it clear they should keep silent as he doesn't want to be a liability. This is truly twisted because it leads to the cops not believing the kids. Gary should have owned up, worked with Callie and educated the town. Instead, he doesn't care how the kids are risking their lives, wrecking the town to fix his error. Gary's just obsessed with wooing Callie, forgetting he caused a supernatural problem and, ultimately, the apocalypse. He doesn't care, ignoring Callie's problems with Egon too, and using Phoebe as bait so he can score points when he should be telling Callie what's happening under her nose.
His selfish nature is hinted at early on in Ghostbusters: Afterlife as he doesn't teach, letting his science class watch films like Child's Play and Cujo as he tries to dissect the fault lines. He's a failed seismologist, so he's bitter, wanting a big break. However, this neglect makes him a major jerk.
He doesn't even speak to the cops about the weapons of mass destruction in the proton pack and trap they seize from Phoebe, opting to focus on romancing Callie. He blatantly ignores her emotional trauma and family issues, which is why it's karma when a Terror Dog possesses him. It brings his story full circle and reminds audiences that the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife are all his fault. Still, no one brings it up, even after he's saved and seemingly gets a happy ending with Callie.
To see how Paul Rudd's Gary goes from sexy to sadistic, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in theaters now.
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