2017 has been a damn fine year for the world of geekdom. Whether your allegiances lay with Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Disney, the indie world or just good old-fashioned thirst traps on social media, this was the year for you, and we at SYFY Fangrrls have been proud to document it all. There is one area that we take particular pride in, and that’s in the complex and hyper-specific ecosystem of the Hollywood Chrises.
Everyone has a favorite, and many a tear has been shed in great Twitter battles over which Chris shall reign supreme. Friendships have been on the line over this disagreement and even us Fangrrls have shared some stern words on the subject. How could we not? It’s a topic particularly close to our hearts.
When we talk of the Hollywood Chrises, it’s important that we establish some rules: The core quartet of Chrises are, in no particular order, Pratt, Pine, Evans, and Hemsworth. Together, they represent a particular brand of masculinity, stardom and franchise casting that has become the bankable norm in the age of billion-dollar tentpoles and expanded universes. They’re all good-looking guys of a similar kind of attractiveness, close in age and with eerily familiar career trajectories, with each finding their ways to the superhero world and beyond. When we talk about Chrises, we focus on these four because they’re in many ways the embodiment of the modern entertainment world: In an industry flush with talent of diverse appearances and backgrounds, it seems so very Hollywood that four of its biggest stars would all be named Chris and kind of look like each other.
That’s not to say we don’t love them because believe me, we most certainly do. You couldn’t navigate the mainstream geek world without bumping into each of them in some capacity, as all four have films that landed in the top ten highest grossing movies of 2017. There’s big money in being a Chris, but who truly had the best year?
We could write tens of thousands of words on the intricacies of Chris-dom, from the ways they navigated the world of activism to their savviness in playing the press to the ins and outs of industry clout. For the sake of clarity, succinctness, and fun, we’re going to be ranking based on these attributes: Who did the best in the geek world, who played the best social media game, who we’re most looking forward to seeing in the coming years, and general attractiveness. This is, of course, completely subjective and partly based on my own preferences, so feel free to disagree in the comments, but make sure you provide your own solid evidence. We’re nothing if not strident about our research here at Team Fangrrls. Now, on with the show!
For a while, Chris Pine was kind of the dark horse of the Chrises: Sure, he was super handsome, but he seemed a bit blah and you got the feeling the Star Trek reboots never really knew what to do with him. Yet that all changed so slowly that we barely saw it happen until all of a sudden, he’s naked in front of Wonder Woman and claiming he’s above average and we’re finding it hard to disagree!
Geek World Cred: As Steve Trevor, Pine was the male co-star Wonder Woman needed: Charming, good sense of humor, honor-bound and genuinely romantic, but never trying to upstage the true star of the show. His chemistry with Gal Gadot provided some of the fieriest scenes of the movie, and even on the press tour, she looked smitten, not that we could blame her. This was Pine’s only movie role of the year, but it was truly a game changer, and it didn’t hurt that he had a top-notch time on the promo tour for it, including a guest hosting spot on Saturday Night Live, featuring the now-iconic song in which he reminds audiences which Chris he actually is. We love a self-aware Chris.
Social Media Savvy: Pine is the only one of the Chrises who has no social media presence whatsoever, which is a darn shame, although it may also be a super smart move. No Twitter = no Twitter screw-ups. Still, we must deduct heavily.
Future Excitement: Pine will appear as Dr. Alexander Murry, father of Meg, in Ava DuVernay's long-awaited adaptation of the children's classic novel A Wrinkle In Time. For many of us who grew up with that book, this is especially exciting, and the trailers have us even more amped up. Pine in sexy bearded dad mode? We're so in.
Thirst Trap: Pine went all silver fox this year, debuting a stunning beard at the Golden Globes that got us all hot under the collar. Even when he shaved it off - along with that glorious mane of hair - later in the year, we quickly forgave him. The entire Steve Trevor look was also a high point: Pine manages to balance being both classically handsome in the Golden Age Hollywood way, and the more rugged man of the earth style that makes us throw away every razor in the house.
OVERALL SCORE: 26/40
The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to have struggled with how it portrayed its Asgardian warrior. The fish-out-of-water stuff can only work for so long, and for too long it felt like Thor was the bland lughead of the Avengers. Never fear, because with Thor: Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi, one of our personal favorites, keenly understood something about Hemsworth that only a handful of people in Hollywood got: Chris Hemsworth is funny, and Thor is kind of stupid, so why not go full-throttle neon punch-up Led Zeppelin chaotic with it? And also give Hemsworth the best look that he’s had in his entire career? Bless you, Taika, and bless you, Hemsworth.
Geek World Cred: What else is there to say about Thor: Ragnarok that has not been said before? It’s a real peak for Thor, a new step for the Marvel world, and a true delight on every level. Finally, some proper belly-aching laughs in a superhero movie and Hemsworth was more than ready for the challenge. Watching Ragnarok was to see an actor having an absolute ball, and it was a delight to see Hemsworth show just how hilarious he can be (who can forget the snake scene?) It’s no wonder it ended up being the 7th biggest film of the year worldwide, and a new peak for the Thor franchise. Good show, Hemsworth.
Social Media Savvy: Hemsworth's not above a bit of pandering on Twitter and Instagram, but we're especially taken by adorable pics of him on the Ragnarok set with his daughter (who's even dressed like Thor! How can we ignore such cute?!) He's not a hugely active user - he mostly retweets or posts ads in relation to his Hugo Boss contract - but you can be sure to see some delights, like a throwback photo of him with his dad, or being very sweet with his wife Elsa Pataky, or playing with his dolls. It’s all about quality, not quantity.
Future Excitement: Alongside 12 Strong, an upcoming war drama wherein he plays a member of the US Special Forces sent to Afghanistan following 9/11, Hemsworth will be appearing in a little film called Avengers: Infinity War. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? We’re obviously amped up to the nines for that, but we hope that Hemsworth gets more to do in this one than he did in Age of Ultron, where he just seemed to go cave diving for a bit.
Thirst Trap: The moment Thor was shaved of his hair and dressed for battle, he reached a new peak of sexy. Sure, Hemsworth wears that classic Viking long mane well, but come on, those biceps paired with that shorn head, the red paint over his face, and that beard?! This was a Chris marching into battle and defying his enemies to dominate him. He knew he had no real competition. He’s a versatile man who can wear many looks, but this was Peak Hemsworth and we congratulate him on it.
OVERALL SCORE: 35/40
By the standards of the Chrises, Captain America had a pretty chill year. He had a leading role in Gifted, a touching low-budget family drama that did well on the indie scene, and the pre-requisite Marvel cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but otherwise, this was not really a big Evans season. Still, he wasn't one to sit out the fun and became the go-to Twitter Chris for all your jokes, cute dog videos, Nazi smack-downs and general sexy times. It's like he knew we needed him.
Geek World Cred: When you’re Captain America, your credit is always good. Sure, he really only popped up in Spider-Man: Homecoming for a cameo, but a little goes a long way. Still, he wasn’t quite as visible this year on the big screen as his fellow Chrises so that must be taken into consideration.
Social Media Savvy: Hands down, Evans has the best Twitter account of any Chris. You never for a moment feel like it’s just some underpaid publicist’s intern doing all the tweeting in character as Evans. Every moment feels like pure undiluted Evans, from the gloriously angry political tweeting and Trump owns to joshing with his fellow Avengers to posting multiple photos of his precious dog as he yearns to be reunited with his pal. He even gets flirty with girlfriend Jenny Slate now and then, which delights us. Twitter is hard to do right when you’re a celebrity – think of the myriad possibilities for screwing up and becoming a social media cautionary tale – but Evans has nailed how to use it for the greater good, balancing jokes, earnestness, a hunger for justice and some classic sex appeal. He tweets as you imagine Captain America would tweet (once you explained it to him very patiently and tried to avoid discussing what the eggplant emoji was about).
Future Excitement: Like 3/4s of Chrises on the list, we’re revved up for more Avengers, but Evans stands head and shoulders above his co-Chrises for one very good reason: The beard. That’s right: Captain America’s gone rugged and we’re here for it. He'll also be appearing in the biographical drama The Red Sea Diving Resort and will make his Broadway debut alongside Michael Cera in Lobby Hero. There’s something no other Chris can offer fans in 2018 – a chance to see him in the flesh!
Thirst Trap: Whenever the Chrises are ranked in terms of their aesthetic appeal, it’s usually Evans who winds up on top, and we can’t say we’re mad about it. Evans doesn’t really invite it as much as some of his Chrises, as his Twitter feed is more interested in his admittedly awesome dog than his own fabulous face, but that upcoming Avengers beard sent us all into a tizzy we’ve yet to emerge from, and he’s arguably the Chris who pulls off the clean-shaven look as well as a bit of facial fuzz.
OVERALL SCORE: 33/40
So frequently, Pratt ends up being the least loved Chris in these rankings. We loved him in Parks and Recreation, delighted in his big screen hero mode with Guardians of the Galaxy, but were disappointed in Jurassic World and the same old shtick that left the film’s female characters kicked to the bottom in order to give more room to Pratt’s overblown raptor whisperer uber-hero. Then there was Passengers, a sci-fi action film with a staggeringly misjudged central romance that played like a serial killer fantasy played for kisses. For us, Pratt is the Chris who’s struggled to define himself, although 2017 did give him a real chance to do so.
Geek World Cred: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the step up the franchise needed, and it helped to iron out some of the iffy character beats of the first one. Finally, the film started calling out Peter Quill’s immaturity and ego, and in doing so it allowed Pratt to do so much more with the role. He got to be the sardonic retro-bro hero of the ‘80s pop culture he consumed as a kid, but he also had to deal with immensely difficult personal and private issues, all while coming to terms with his parentage and what it means to be somebody’s son. Surprisingly, out of all of Marvel’s triumphs this year, it may be Pratt’s real tear-jerking scenes with Yondu that stand out as the franchise’s high point in 2017. It's no wonder, with an $863.5m worldwide gross, the film became the 6th highest grossing movie of 2017 (the second highest Marvel film of the year after Spider-Man: Homecoming).
Social Media Savvy: Pratt is a chatty tweeter. He likes to answer questions, get very excited about his football team, crack lots of jokes, and casually troll his co-stars. He also knows his Chris-ness has tight competition, and even he couldn’t deny the power of Evans, as evidenced by his quiz results and adorable son’s Halloween costume of choice.
Future Excitement: Seeing the Guardians with the Avengers is nothing to sneeze at, but we’re finding it hard to get that revved up for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The trailer was dull, the whole thing seemed unnecessary, and we’ve never entirely been able to wash the bad taste from our mouths that its predecessor left. We expect it to make boatloads of cash, but our geek anticipation is at more ambivalent levels.
Thirst Trap: Okay, I’m laying it on the line here – Chris Pratt does nothing for me. I get that he does things for some people, and his appeal is understandable, but it’s so not on my level, especially when compared to the ample competition. Still, in an effort to be objective, I’ll relent and admit that his goofy pandering on Instagram has its allure for those interested. It’s always sexy to see a man willing to poke fun at his own image, like showing off his thighs while mocking a selectively applied spray tan. He’s also just not on the same beard level as his opponents, and that will be a key marker in future Chris battles, as Avengers: Infinity War seems to be a movie that’s 10% about sullen superhero beard growth.
OVERALL SCORE: 26/40
So there you have it: Through a very serious, stridently scientific and 100% objective sociological study of these four fine men, we have determined that Chris Hemsworth had the best 2017, and so shall wear the crown of Top Chris for the rest of the year. Once 2018 starts, the battle commences afresh.