A full head of well-coiffed, sandy blond hair. Smoldering blue or hazel eyes. Thick, inviting eyebrows that say, ‘I’m strong but sensitive.’ The name Chris.
The prerequisites for becoming a leading man in a superhero blockbuster are better documented than the requirements for graduation from Trump University (too soon?). But the debate over which Super Chris is the Chrissiest continues to rage across the country, showing no signs of stopping (despite Chris Pine’s delightfully self-aware SNL monologue, a front-runner move).
Chris (Hemsworth), Chris (Pratt), Chris (Evans) and Chris (Pine). (Photo: Robert Hanashiro and Dan MacMedan USA TODAY)
Some outlets, including Jezebel, are releasing their official endorsements. No consensus has been reached here at USA TODAY. However, we’ve developed a scoring system to track which Chris at any given time is the winningest Chris.
Points are awarded in categories ranging from performance in a feature film to wokeness, with a score of one indicating Chris Angel-level Chris and five meaning the achievement of Chris(topher) Walker brilliance.
Chris Pine, also known as Captain Kirk. (Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)
Acting merit: 5
If this ranking was published a year ago, both Marvel Chrises would have placed above Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek series. But Pine is having a moment, thanks to his utterly charming turn as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, one of the best action movie sidekicks in recent memory. Before Wonder Woman, he delivered the best performance of his career thus far in 2016’s underrated classic Hell or High Water.
Pine’s range stretches beyond action movies, including a surprising amount of singing, from his wonderfully melodramatic take on Cinderella’s prince in Into the Woods to his cameo in Wet Hot American Summer.
Pine has Ava DuVernay in his corner, who directs the actor in her forthcoming Wrinkle in Time adaptation.
“In WRINKLE IN TIME, he plays a physicist, father of two and husband of Gugu Mbatha Raw,” she wrote on Twitter. “President of the Chrises.”
Social consciousness: 5
Though he was guilty of some mansplaining to Diana Prince, by the end of Wonder Woman Steve Trevor was #boyfriendgoals, letting his lady friend save the day.
Chris Evans, also known as Captain America. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USAT)
Acting merit: 5
If through science or magic Hollywood could fuse Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth into a mutant mega-Chris, he’d be the perfect star. Hemsworth has all the brawny good looks of Marvel’s hottest male superhero (Thor), making him a more recognizable face than the more bro-next-door-looking Evans — who, to be fair, is probably No. 2 on the Avengers men’s attractiveness scale. But Evans is a talented actor who’s made an impression in roles beyond his Captain America franchise, from the recent rom-com Gifted to the riveting 2013 action-thriller Snowpiercer.
Evans directs, too. In 2014, he directed and starred in Before We Go. He’s also the only Chris to play more than one superhero. Before he was Cap, Evans played Human Torch in two Fantastic Four movies.
He charmed us with his relationship with Jenny Slate, and even after their breakup, he charmingly sung her praises to the press.
“You find that you cannot help to have respect for her. You spend five minutes with her and you cannot find something bad to say about her if you tried,” Evans told USA TODAY. That’s modern day chivalry, folks.
He’s also won fans over with his surprisingly woke Twitter account, posting political jokes and famously confronting former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, David Duke, in between sharing videos of his dog, of course.
Social engagement: 5
He won #ComeyDay with a single tweet.
Chris Hemsworth, aka Thor. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USAT)
Acting merit: 4
While the guy behind Thor is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable superhero-franchise faces, Hemsworth hasn’t had the same success outside Marvel’s cinematic universe as Evans, save for his 2013 starring role as hedonistic Formula One racecar driver James Hunt in Rush. But one can’t discredit his blossoming comedy career and his best role to date: Ghostbuster’s Kevin. As the hot secretary, he may have worn glasses sans frames, but Hemsworth brilliantly provided the comedic relief while our lady busters did their thing fighting ghosts. Oh, how we love reversed gender stereotypes done right.
Hemsworth may be an Adonis, but he can goof on his good looks. On SNL, he was laugh-out-loud funny as Thor in “Avengers News Report” and as himself in a parody American Express ad where the Australian star talks about how people told him he’d “never make it as an actor,” because “my muscles were too big.”
“My general attitude is, I don’t mind you laughing at me and watching me make a fool out of myself. I kind of enjoy that,” he told USA TODAY while promoting Ghostbusters. Swoon.
He’s part of an envious family that includes brothers Liam and Luke, wife Elsa Pataky and their adorable three children. It’s easy to figure out where those good looks came from: Have you seen Grandpa Hemsworth?
Social engagement: 4
Leading up to November’s premiere of Thor: Ragnarok, Hemsworth has been starring in funny social videos. He messes with Avengers dolls and deals with regular-guy roommate Darryl. Also, his plentiful Instagram posts gushing about “the world’s best wife” help us believe true love still exists.
Chris Pratt, or Star-Lord. (Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)
Acting merit: 4
This hurts, but facts are facts: Chris Pratt has the best rags-to-riches story of any of the Chrises (and that’s including Pine, who made his Hollywood debut in 2004’s The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement). Pratt ground away in smaller Hollywood parts for nearly a decade until landing his breakout role as Andy Dwyer on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. The role led to Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty, and his starring turn on Guardians of the Galaxy, which launched his career into the stratosphere.
But we hope he can break out of the goofily-charming schtick that followed him to Jurassic World, The Magnificent Seven, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2…
Pratt’s charity work is well-documented. He’s visited children’s hospitals as Star-Lord, donated $500K to a teen center built in honor of his late father and gave a touching speech about his son, who was born premature, at a March of Dimes celebration.
Parks and Recreation creator Mike Schur says Pratt is a master at improvisation, having made the funniest lines on the show. Pratt’s wife, Anna Faris, is as charming and funny, and frequently gushes about says this about the father of her son, Jack, and seems like the cool friend we all wish we had, down to the time she invited his on-screen love interests to join her podcast and talk about those sex scenes.
Social engagement: 3
Pratt constantly demystifies the art of getting movie-star ripped with his “What’s my snack?” social-media series. In Instagram videos, he humorously reviews his healthy snack of the day, while accidentally saying under his breath that his “life is terrible.”
The dark horses
Sure, there are prettier members of the Hollywood Chris Corps and most, if not all of them, have done SNL. But how many of them were part of multiple classic sketches that make every best-of list and anniversary special? Parnell, who was on the show for eight seasons, gave us “Lazy Sunday,” “The Natalie Portman Rap” and “More Cowbell.” After he got laid off for the second time, Tina Fey recruited Parnell to 30 Rock, where he played Dr. Leo Spaceman (it’s pronounced Spa-chem-in, people), the sketchiest TV physician this side of Dr. Nick from The Simpsons.
Long before any of the aforementioned Chrises graced the screen in a superhero movie, O’Donnell played Robin to Val Kilmer’s Dark Knight in 1995’s Batman Forever. The cape-wearing O.G. revealed to Conan O’Brien in 2014 that he kept the crime-fighting garb (which came complete with abs and nipples), joking itwas made of merely “a very thin latex.” The actor, who starred opposite Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman, has a career spanning decades, and currently stars on CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles.
The O.C. We rest our case.
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