The Battle of the Hot Hollywood Chrises has absolutely NOT been won, despite what some (wrong) people may believe. And maybe it never will be won, so long as hot guys named Chris still regularly put out movies featuring their multitude of charms. But while Pine may rise or Pratt may fall, Chris Evans will continue to be victor in my heart of hearts. Because ultimately, the Battle of the Chrises isn’t an objective conflict at all. It exists purely inside of all of us — like a bunch of buff Santas we can all argue about.
But when did Chris Evans become… so Chris Evansy? Until he landed his role as Captain America in the MCU, he mostly flew under the radar. Sure, he was always good looking — he’s an actor, after all — but it was his humor that seemed to land him parts more than his appearance. He certainly didn’t always make women lose their trains of thought or inspire grown-ass men to sign up for gym memberships.
So let’s take a look back through the career of Chris Evans and try to pinpoint when he became the fucking BEST. Is this just an excuse to stage an elaborate mid-week thirst trap gif-storm, masquerading as an “investigation”? Only you can decide.
Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
Evans had appeared in a few things before this, mostly on television, but the first time most of us will remember seeing him was in this genre parody flick. His character was a mash-up of Freddie Prinze Jr. in She’s All That and James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues. And he fucking WENT FOR IT. Not only did he completely sell the script-flipped whipped cream sexualization scene, but he managed to make a real, believable character out of a series of film clichés. And while he had the looks to headline his own for-real teen movie, it speaks to his underlying talents that he managed to nail a comedic one right out of the gate. Also? Let’s just say it. He out-Prinze Jr.ed Freddie Prinze Jr.
Fantastic Four (2005)
Evans continued to build his career, turning in solid performances in films like Cellular and The Perfect Score, but it wasn’t until he donned his first full spandex hero suit as Johnny Storm that people really seemed to take notice of him. And sure — a dude with fiery superpowers is gonna spend some time undressed. But even here, where Evans is undeniably playing the hot (pun intended!) playboy superhero, it’s his comedic timing more than his physique that made him so much fun to watch. He was shallow and kinda dumb but also expressed such visceral joy in his new powers that you couldn’t help but be invested in him. Let’s face it — the Fantastic Four movies weren’t very good, but Chris Evans was absolutely great in them.
In this stunning sci-fi film from director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland, Evans steps into what might be one of the greatest cast ensembles ever assembled (suck it, Avengers!). It’s a film not that many people talk about anymore — or if they do, it’s to reference how visually gorgeous it is while bemoaning its Event Horizon-esque slide into horror during the climax. For what it’s worth, Sunshine happens to be one of my favorite movies, precisely for the way it grounds the plot in the “science” of sci-fi while complicating it with the specter of everything we still don’t understand. And while Evans goes from angry/bearded to angry/clean-shaven through the course of the film, his looks are entirely beside the point (or as beside the point as they can be when anyone looks as good as Chris Evans). Hell, they’re actively undercut! Have you ever seen a dude wearing sandals in space? It’s… unsettling. But his character ends up being the unlikeable hero of the entire film — the hardass who happens to be 100% correct the whole time. The only one with his mind fully on the mission. He’s not funny here, or at least not intentionally so (seeing him ugly-fight Cillian Murphy is worth a few chuckles), but the film is proof that Evans has the talent to stand out amongst a group of actors’ actors without relying on his looks or his comedic timing.
Which still makes him pretty hot, to be honest.
Oh, the franchise that could have been! This movie has been so forgotten that I could barely find any .gifs, and certainly none that could do Chris Evans justice. Still, he was undeniably the lead in the movie and I loved it, so fuck it — it’s going on this list. Evans played a guy with very little control over his telekinetic powers. Push also starred a teenaged Dakota Fanning as a girl who could see the future and draw it… poorly. It was basically a full-cloth reimagining of the X-Men, only without the spandex or mentors or teamwork. Just a bunch of hot people with superpowers they can’t control, trying to avoid a shadowy government agency. It was fun.
The Losers (2010)
Look, Evans is gonna Evans. Give him nerd glasses and bad facial hair and he’s still gonna be swoon-worthy. But in this fun-yet-forgettable comic book adaptation, he’s surrounded by plenty of competition in the “hot” arena. Idris Elba and Zoe Saldana are enough to turn heads, not to mention Jeffrey Dean Morgan. So Evans isn’t the resident beefcake on this black ops team. Instead, he does what he does so well: plays the goofy, awkward comic relief.
This reminds me, I should probably rewatch The Losers…
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Apparently Evans was having a bad facial hair phase in 2010 because wowwwww — I have never been so turned on by a chinstrap. This puffed-up cameo, where Evans plays one of the seven evil exes (a skateboarding actor, natch) that Scott has to defeat, is one of the best parts of the whole film. He’s just so game, you know?
And then it happened…
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
THIS IS WHERE IT HAPPENED. This is where Chris Evans went from Chris Evans to “Chris Evans, of the Hollywood Chrises.” His Cap still finds room for humor (mostly in how behind the times he is), but he’s also just a total fucking hero. He stands up for what’s right. He’s self-sacrificing. And he’s so very, very pretty. When I first heard that he was cast, I thought it would be a waste of his talent. He’d be pigeon-holed as the wholesome guy, and we’d miss his comedic chops. But now that we’ve seen him in multiple MCU films, he has made me love a character I was absolutely bored by in the comics. Evans MADE Captain America. And in turn, the role has kinda made him. And it made the rest of us want to do literally all the push-ups because DAMN DUDE I DIDN’T KNOW THERE WERE THAT MANY MUSCLES.
What’s Your Number (2011)
Proof that the Cap training regimen could pay off in other ways, Evans also appeared alongside another Chris’ wife in a romantic comedy where he, um, isn’t wholesome? Whatever, it proved he’s still funny and gave me an excuse to share the best Evans .gifs.
Ok, I should end with more Cap film appearances because he’s hot in all of them, all the time. But Evans did more than just play Captain America. He’s directed! He’s raised a child prodigy! And he… knows that babies taste best. I wanted to end with this film because in some ways, it’s the best example of how he’s purposefully undercut his heroic screen persona. Is future dystopian cannibalism the new hotness? No. But if it’s with Evans? Maybe.
And this has been your diversion for the day. You’re welcome.