Yup, it’s that time of year again. I swear, it gets earlier and earlier with each passing season, but it’s a necessity we cannot do without. It’s the argument that can tear apart even the most peaceful corners of the internet without even trying. Thanos may have decimated half the universe’s population with a click of his fingers, but even he would have trouble settling on his Best Chris.
2018 was a very rich year for Chris-related studies. The much-hyped release of Avengers: Infinity War hogged up most of the geek sphere conversations this summer, but there was much to enjoy across the board for our quartet of tall, handsome, and academically intriguing men. Indeed, 2018 might be the year where our need to squabble over Best Chrises became more relevant than ever.
We at FANGRRLS have always said that to talk about Chrises is to talk about Hollywood at large. As hilarious as it can be to get into verbal smackdowns over the same four dudes every damn day, our interests in them are merely a manifestation of bigger issues at play in our society.
What do we talk about when we talk about Chrises? We seek clarity on how the entertainment industry fetishizes certain types over all others; we find a means to discuss societal standards of masculinity; we better understand the way Hollywood works in an age where being an A-lister doesn’t mean what it used to and franchises rule the roost; we think about our preconceived notions of sexuality, whiteness, power, and much more. Star studies is the academic and critical analysis of celebrity as an identity, and at a time where fame remains our society’s fetish of choice, there’s real worth to be found in having the tools to understand everything that’s going on when we talk about men like Chrises Hemsworth, Pratt, Evans, and Pine.
Of course, it’s also just great fun to get way too invested in this.
It helps for us at FANGRRLS that this quartet of Chrisdom are so thoroughly defined by the geek sphere. All four of them are best known for their works in major comic book franchises and science fiction blockbuster properties, all of which have emerged as part of a new age of Hollywood. No longer is speculative fiction an interest of the fringe. The geeks inherited the earth, and they’ve populated their stories with blond beefcakes who wouldn’t look out of place in the testosterone-fueled punch-up fests that saturated cinema the decades prior. As long as these tentpole geek franchises dominate our pop culture landscape, The Chris will be at the forefront.
Which brings us to this year’s rankings. To keep things simple, we have divided the rankings into three attributes: Who did best in 2018, who has the best potential for 2019 onward, and who is working it in terms of raw sex appeal, all of which will be ranked out of 10 for a combined potential score of 30. These topics are, as always, utterly subjective and decided by yours truly. There is no objective way to do this, and it’s all in good fun, so feel free to share your choice in the comments below.
Chris Hemsworth came into 2018 hot (in more ways than one). He ranked number one on our 2017 Chris list in large part thanks to the glory that was Thor: Ragnarok. Out of the three Chrises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s Hemsworth who has arguably seen the most growth and become more beloved as the films have rolled on. This came after what many saw as a period of stagnation between the middling Thor: The Dark World and his kind of pointless cave diving adventure subplot in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Teaming up with Taika Waititi gave Hemsworth a much-needed shot in the arm, bringing Thor to the forefront with a neon-retro edge and far more leeway for Hemsworth to show off his impressive comedic powers. So he certainly had the most to prove as Thanos came to town.
2018 Cred: In an epic movie with the ensemble cast to match, it’s Hemsworth who gets the closest to a satisfying arc in Infinity War out of the trio of Marvel Chrises. We saw Thor interacting with the Guardians of the Galaxy, proving to be a fitting member of the team (Thor and the Guardians movie, anyone?). Crucially, the film did not undo all of the funny work that Thor: Ragnarok had laid down for the character, and Waititi was brought on board by the Russo Brothers to ensure his comedy shops got a good workout. He got his eye back but kept the short hair and barged into Wakanda with a brand-new hammer. Hemsworth also had plenty of moments to shine in Bad Times at the El Royale, where he played a charismatic cult leader and got to be genuinely sinister as well as endlessly charming. 9/10
Future Excitement: On top of Avengers: Endgame, featuring sulky Thor, Hemsworth will star in the Netflix film Dhaka — alongside Hellboy himself, David Harbour — but the one that's got us most excited is Men In Black International. Another chance for Hemsworth to be well dressed while firing off one-liners in an action comedy? AND his co-star is Tessa Thompson once more? Sign us up. 8/10
Thirst Trap Status: Praise be for whoever decided to cut Thor’s hair, because Hemsworth has never looked better. Well, we say that, but did you see him in Bad Times at the El Royale? We rest our case. 10/10
It still feels kind of unfair to keep the Chris ranks a level playing field when three of them are part of the biggest cinematic franchise of all time and one of them isn’t. Not that Chris Pine was slouching this year or anything. He certainly put in the work, but it cannot help but be overshadowed by the inescapable might of Avengers: Infinity War. Still, 2018 saw Pine in Science Dad mode, go full-frontal, and get us all revved up for the return of Steve Trevor.
2018 Cred: Pine may have had the most varied year of all the Chrises. He didn't have a major tentpole movie in his corner, but he did have three very different films to show his abilities in (and we maintain Pine is simply the best actor of the four, certainly the one with the most range). He started off the year playing Meg Murry's dad in Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time, a film that sadly flopped financially but still has its fans. Pine in loving science dad mode was hard to overlook (and that beard!). Then, he put on a Scottish accent, grew a mild mullet and got out his pine nuts for Netflix's Outlaw King. As Robert the Bruce, Pine is a stoic on-screen presence (solid 6/10 on the accent too), even when the film is somewhat lacking. Pine ended the year with, SPOILERS, a minor voice cameo as Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. So hell yeah, Pine is a Marvel star too. See, that's range. 8/10
Future Excitement: Alas, we will have to wait until 2020 to see the return of Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984, but rest assured we will be thirsting hard for Pine in full '80s fashion. Bring on the shoulder pads. That set image alone had us screaming. Until then, Pine will be appearing on TV in I Am the Night, a mini-series directed in part by Patty Jenkins and inspired by the Black Dahlia murder. We love a prestige Chris who commits to working with women directors. 7/10
Thirst Trap Status: First of all: Chris Peen. You paused it on Netflix, don’t pretend you didn’t. Pine himself may not have understood what the big deal was – heh, big – but we certainly did. But his hotness did not end there in 2018. Not even close. On top of the aforementioned dad beard in A Wrinkle in Time, Chris Pine spent most of the year being the best fashion plate of all the Chrises. Sure, all four of them scrub up fine and look good in a tailored suit picked out for them by a stylist, but Pine’s sartorial flair extends beyond contractual obligations. Did you see any of the other Chrises in a half-buttoned coral shirt with well fitted light orange pants at Comic-Con? Did you see any other Chris in dungarees or a sand-colored suit with matching pocket square? Where was your Chris in his caftan this year? That’s right: Chris Pine wore a caftan in the year of our Lord 2018 and made it work. Your Chris could never. 10/10
Oh Captain, our Captain. What is there to say about Chris Evans that has not already been said? He is our boy scout of Chrises, the Massachusetts bro with a sensitive side and a love of smacking down conservative trolls and Trump on Twitter that is outshone only by his adoration of his dogs. For some, Evans will always and forever be the Best Chris, regardless of the impressive showings put in by his competition. But we are fair geeks here and we must look at the numbers before we crown anyone.
2018 Cred: Evans tends to keep a low profile outside of Avengers work and 2018 was no exception. Indeed, he wasn’t really all that major a player in Infinity War in the grand scheme of that narrative. But when he emerged from the shadows of Waverley Station in Edinburgh with that beard, the film stopped dead in its tracks to acknowledge his presence. Such is his star power and on-screen magnetism. 8/10
Future Excitement: Cap will be back, but the beard will not. We have mourned it and we thank you for your kind words during this difficult time. Endgame promises to be a big deal for Captain America fans. Come on, we’re all aware of what may happen and we’re all steeling ourselves for it. But outside of that, Evans is currently filming Knives Out, the new film by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson! 8/10
Thirst Trap Status: The beard. Just… The beard. We’ve already rhapsodized about the majestic sight of that perfectly maintained facial fuzz that lined Evans’s meticulously sharp jaw. This was rogue Steve Rogers and the beard was but a manifestation of his inner sexy conflict. We mourn its passing, but boy did we enjoy it for the brief time we were acquainted with it. Alas, the same could not be said for the other facial hair styling Evans modeled this year. While starring in the Broadway revival of Kenneth Lonergan's play Lobby Hero, Evans grew a thick 1970s cop drama mustache that had us wondering when he was going to call us up and yell about needing pictures of Spider-Man on his desk by noon. Sometimes, not even hotness and dedication to one’s craft can make us forget such horrors, hence the deducted point. 9/10
Typically, Pratt is the Chris who comes last in most of our polls, although outside of internet cliques and The Discourse, he's the one who fares best with general audiences. For all the critical mauling the Jurassic World movies get, they make ridiculous amounts of money, and Pratt's wannabe Harrison Ford persona wins over a lot of people. In 2017, he got a real chance to stretch himself with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the franchise that feels best suited to his skills.
2018 Cred: In terms of sheer cash in the bank, Pratt was the dominant Chris this year. The Marvel trio are bolstered by the unbeatable success of Infinity War but the billion dollar gross of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom puts Pratt over the top. Why be part of one major franchise when you can headline another on top of that? We could argue all day about the merits of his box office cred and how much of it can actually be allotted to Pratt over the intellectual properties themselves, but money talks and Pratt is one of only two actors this year to have two $1 billion movies (the other is Samuel L. Jackson). For as much crap as Star-Lord faced for his obvious goof in Infinity War — dude, you had one job — Pratt himself remains a strong on-screen presence as Peter Quill. Alas, all of the deftly handled character growth that went into Peter in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 turned into a rush job with Infinity War, mostly for the tragic arc of Gamora. Peter had evolved so much in Vol. 2 as Pratt and director James Gunn keenly understood the necessity of showing how Star Lord’s immaturity and toxic masculinity hurt everyone around him. For him to be so flat and hot-headed in Infinity War was something of a step back. Fortunately, for Jurassic fans, his character in Fallen Kingdom was way less of a douchebag than he was in Jurassic World. 7/10
Future Excitement: Star-Lord will return — or will he?! — in Endgame, and Pratt will be back in voice-over mode for The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. Since joining the Guardians, Pratt has mostly stuck to big blockbusters and franchises, so 2019 could prove an interesting change of pace for him as he stars in Vincent D'Onofrio's The Kid, an indie Western about Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. But honestly, most of our Pratt excitement for 2019 is Marvel related. 6/10
Thirst Trap Status: As I stated in last year’s vote, Pratt personally does nothing for me, but he’s a knowing goofball who balances that warmth alongside old-school workout stuff and poking fun at his own image on Instagram. He’s never managed to keep up with the other Chrises in terms of sexy beard growth either, so we have to deduct points. 5/10
So there you have it, friends. FANGRRLS decrees for the second year running that... Hemsworth is the Best Chris! As always, our study is infallible and all challenges must go through the appropriate legal circuits. Or you can yell at us on Twitter. Either is good. See you same time next year!