WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
As more than a decade of the MCU wraps up with Avengers: Endgame, which of Marvel’s trio of Chris actors came out of the finale as the ultimate victor? With over 10 years of ambition, billions of dollars, and the hopes of countless fans on the line, Marvel Studios begins to conclude Phase 3 of their cinematic universe with Endgame. The series will, of course, go on.
Thanos was defeated, of course, and the true balance of the universe was restored with the return of those who disappeared. But some sacrifices were made along the way. Some were more surprising than others, but given that the major casualties of Endgame were three members of the core Avengers unit – Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, and Steve Rogers – the film felt like a big goodbye to the era of superhero filmmaking that helped to mold the genre into what it is today.
Most fans had already accepted that Captain America was probably doomed in some manner, but that didn’t make his happy ending any less heart-wrenching. After being somewhat short-changed in Avengers: Infinity War – at least, compared to some of his colleagues – Endgame was a fitting completion of Steve Rogers' story. And, for Chris Evans, a stalwart reminder of just how good he is in that role. Indeed, it was best Chris territory.
Who Are the Four Hollywood Chrises?
When discussing the Best Chris, as the internet so loves to do, there are four actors to consider: Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, and Chris Pine. This quartet of leading men all emerged as major industry players around the same time, they all play various shades of the same archetype, and they all got famous mostly through the superhero and speculative genre of Hollywood blockbusters. Comparing and ranking them has become a favorite game of the internet but particularly in Marvel fan circles. How can you not have a little fun with that when three of the four Chrises are part of the same cinematic universe?
The three Chrises who are part of the MCU have seen their personas and career expectations heavily defined by their Marvel characters: Chris Evans became the beloved Boy Scout style all-American hero thanks to Captain America; Chris Hemsworth combined his physical prowess with his gift for humor in the most effective way through Thor; and Chris Pratt remolded his career from schlubby sitcom guy to sardonic action hero when he became Star-Lord. Over the course of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, each of the trio got their big on-screen moment that felt like a culmination of their characters’ arcs over the course of this epic franchise. That’s partly what makes Endgame so striking; it may not definitively be the end for some – there are sequels to make, after all – but there was still a firm full stop at the conclusion of this story.
Chris Pratt Gets Nothing to Do in Endgame
Star-Lord’s arc in these Avengers movies has always felt like one of the weaker moments in the franchise. The leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to have regressed in terms of his character development, and fan goodwill took a nosedive when he screwed things up somewhat during the attempt to remove the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos' hand. The biggest problem with his arc was that it seemed so out of tune with what had been established in the Guardians movies. There, he had blossomed from an emotionally immature brat into someone who understood the need to put others before himself while dealing with his parental issues. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Peter is forced to overcome ego – both literal and metaphorical – and destroy his childhood fantasies of family and power. He stops being the guy who tries to pressure Gamora into liking him and accepted that whatever would happen between them needed to do so at its own pace, because the woman he loved wasn’t a prize to be won.
Thanks to James Gunn and his team, audiences got the best version of Peter Quill, but he wasn’t really the same Peter in the Russos’ Avengers films. There, he was 2014 Peter, and in the short time we see him in Avengers: Endgame, after everyone returns to action, he really doesn’t get all that much to do. He fights, he banters with the version of Gamora that doesn’t recognize him, then he squabbles with Thor. It’s inevitable that in a film this ambitious and with a cast this large that some will be side-lined as a result, especially when half of them are gone for the vast majority of the movie’s running time. Other Chrises, however, fare better.
Chris Hemsworth is the Most Fun Chris in Endgame
Of the Marvel Chrises, it was Hemsworth who came out of Infinity War supreme. His arc was the most well-rounded, he was the character who got all the best lines and flashy heroic moments, and he was simply the most fun to watch. The Russos, thankfully, built upon the newly developed Thor seen in Thor: Ragnarok and molded by Taika Waititi, letting that film’s director be a creative adviser to ensure his evolution wasn't halted. Thor is a somewhat reluctant hero who's been burdened both by his own ego and the weight of being a leader for his people at a time when he feels ill-equipped to be so. Add to that some of the MCU’s most colorful family issues and the new guilt of feeling as if he personally didn’t stop Thanos, and it’s no wonder that Thor goes a bit off the rails in Endgame. It is, however, hilarious.
In a film with so many heavy, emotional moments and an overwhelming feeling of melancholy, there's much brevity to be found in watching Thor just give up and embrace his new state of drunken, dad-bod apathy. Dressed like the Dude from The Big Lebowski, threatening kids while playing video games, and constantly spluttering through beer burps, Hemsworth is clearly having the absolute time of his life as this slacker Thor. He embodies one of many versions of grief seen throughout Endgame: Clint embraces violent but futile vengeance, Tony rejects his old life to move forward in peace, and Thor just stops caring, drowning himself in alcohol and avoiding any real responsibilities. In many ways, he has become the man he risked turning into in the first Thor film before he had the sense knocked into him. It’s pathetic, deliberately so, but Hemsworth is so naturally comedic that he practically gallops towards each pratfall and punchline. It took a while for the MCU to fully embrace how funny Hemsworth is, so this was very satisfying in that aspect, made all the more so by his triumphant return to caring and fighting for what was right. Of course, that still isn’t enough to make him the Best Chris of Endgame. No, that title was always going to belong to Evans.
Evans is the Best Chris of Endgame
In many ways, Endgame was always going to be Steve’s movie. Tony Stark may get the more heroic ending, sacrificing himself to take on Thanos and save the universe, but the image of old Steve waiting for his friends and the knowledge that he would die after a long and satisfying life was the real emotional kicker.
The Captain America of Avengers: Endgame is one who has grown tired and weary but keeps on fighting, mostly because it’s what he was made to do and, among the ravaged husk that is Earth post-Thanos, he cannot help but still try to be the hero. Even in Earth’s darkest moment, Captain America is the safe port in a storm, but now he’s been battered and left exhausted. Chris Evans is at his best when he’s balancing that wide-eyed optimism with the weariness of reality, a mixture never more on display than when Steve has to literally fight himself. When his younger version says his trademark line, “I can do this all day," he replies resignedly, “I know,” a funny moment that also emphasizes how much he’s been through the wringer since the first Avengers film.
Steve has never gotten over Peggy Carter, and he never had any intention of getting over her. Fans had speculated for a long time if he would truly get the happy ending he craved with her, as well as that final dance. Once time travel entered the equation, his conclusion seemed inevitable. This was what Steve had earned and he felt ready to pass on the weighty mantle of Captain America to someone else. Captain America is all about hope, about being a symbol of optimism in the face of overwhelming darkness, and Steve getting the peaceful life he always craved after years of service was immensely satisfying. It was also a peak for Evans, an endlessly charismatic actor who has played this role for eight years and embodied Captain America’s spirit on-screen and off. Fans couldn't have asked for more from Evans over the course of the MCU. In Avengers: Endgame, he gave it his all and was the perfect embodiment of the superhero. It was only fitting he got the true ending of the film, and the title of Best Chris.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019