It’s hard to dislike Chris Evans. The hunky actor is talented, handsome, charismatic and thoughtful to boot. He’s the whole package, folks. While he hasn’t made a ton of movies, there are quite a few on his resume worth recommending.
Sure enough, while there are many folks who know him best from his extended run as Captain America in the Marvel movies or perhaps even his other noteworthy superhero performance as the cocky firecracker,Johnny Storm, i.e. The Human Torch, in the Fantastic Four movies from the mid-to-late ’00s, the actor has proven his capabilities in a number of films.
In this article, we’ll take a moment to celebrate five of his strongest, most commendable and most memorable performances to date. He has proven that he can do comedy and drama, and action and character pieces, with relative ease, and there’s no denying that he is an absolute movie star. It might not be easy for some folks to narrow it down to a mere five movies. Nonetheless, we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate his five best roles yet.
5. Sunshine (2007)
I had to wrestle with myself on this one. I was stuck between Sunshine, the acclaimed science-fiction saga from Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle, and Not Another Teen Movie, a raunchy, R-rated parody flick that is currently rocking a 29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. While I do have a soft spot for that sophomoric romp, which is where many people were first introduced to the A-list actor, I’d be a bit foolish to suggest that it stands on the same shoulders as Sunshine. For that movie, in its bold, elegant and lyrical execution, might have more on its mind than Not Another Teen Movie.
The twisty, visually stunning space mediation, which features a script from future Ex Machina filmmaker Alex Garland (who also collaborated with director Danny Boyle on 28 Days Later), might not be a flawless movie. The ending twists feel a bit abrupt in the grand scheme of things, and the more action-intensive sequences take away from the more thoughtful and pensive first half, which I ultimately found more intriguing and compelling. Nevertheless, it was the first time audiences and critics had a great chance to see Chris Evans’ acting chops come into full force, finally allowing him a chance to excel.
While Chris Evans has been consistently good in movies that don’t quite match his performances, including the Fantastic Four movies, Cellular and The Perfect Score (and, yes, maybe Not Another Teen Movie fits in that category as well), Sunshine was one of the first times he was given a meaty, weighty script that could do his commitment justice. His contemplative, morally-driven performance, which finds a crew of astronauts hoping to reach a dying sun and preserve the planet before time has expired, is a tense, psychological exercise, but there are also moments of character contemplation to make it satisfying on the brain while still being entertaining and gripping. The result was one of Evans’ first exceptional displays of his bright acting talents.
4. Fantastic Four (2005)/Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Listen, the Fantastic Four films are not very good. They’re cheesy, corny and, especially by today’s superhero movie standards, rather cheap looking. But I tend to have a soft spot for them, thanks primarily to two particular performances: Michael Chiklis as The Thing and Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, i.e. The Human Torch. In both Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Evans captured just the right spark.
While the movies themselves leave a lot to be desired, Chris Evans really captured the zippy, wise-cracking spirit of this fiery character. He nails the charm and the swarm in equal measures, letting us seeing how this fire-based character can soak up the publicity and notoriety of his superhero antics —even though it means he has to be on fire all the time. Fittingly enough, Chris Evans burns bright in this role, even if the movies don’t meet his skills.
As it was made evident with Fantastic Four (2015), also known not-so-lovingly as Fan4stic, and Roger Corman’s long-forgotten ’90s adaptation, it’s surprisingly hard to make a good Fantastic Four film — even in this era of superhero movies. Alas, while the movies can be faulted for their hammy scripts, dated special effects and sitcom-level direction, it’s hard to fault the casting of Chris Evans in this particular role. He really made the most of it, despite the movies themselves not living up to their potential. Thankfully, things worked out for Chris Evans in the long run with his next superhero role.
3. Snowpiercer (2014)
After years of playing the clean-cut, patriotic-as-can-be superhero Captain America, it was a stark departure for the lead actor to play the gruff, demurred, tormented, but ultimately resistant lead character in Bong Joon Ho’s audacious science-fiction epic, Snowpiercer. A film filled with sorrow and grand spectacle in equal measure, it’s an apocalyptic tale of woe and righteousness, allowing us to see an intriguing metaphor within a full-speed locomotive.
In the South Korean filmmaker’s first English-language film, Chris Evans gave another powerful, yet heartbroken, performance that harkened back to his work in Sunshine just a handful of years earlier. He is not the confident, eager-to-please hero we see him as in the Captain America movies. This is a character filled with doubts and plagued with regrets, and a man who knows that in order to survive, people must resort to bleak and dire consequences.
Snowpiercer is not an uplifting movie, but it is an inspiring one, particularly for those who find themselves in a tumultuous time. The insisting desire to stand up to the suppression and failing institutions that plague their morale is certainly a political one, and it is apparent from Chris Evans’ Twitter page that he isn’t afraid to get political with his platform. And this bold, invigorating movie is a great showcase of what Evans can provide to the screen in the right role. Hopefully, now that Evans is done with his tenure as Captain America (spoiler?), he can continue to make challenging films like this one.
2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
While Chris Evans has impressed in a number of leading roles, similar to his scene-stealing turn in the Fantastic Four movies, there is always something to admire in Evans’ supporting characters. Case-in-point: Chris Evans’ vain, overly-masculine movie star persona in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. In the enjoyably frantic Edgar Wright movie, Evans gets to play up his movie star status in a gleefully over-the-top way, allowing himself to call the shots while also making himself camera-friendly in the midst of beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new lover. It’s a fun, giddy, action-packed performance that’s positively a hoot.
As Lucas Lee, Chris Evans is clearly having a lot of fun in this cocky, high-strung performance, allowing himself to really relish the opportunity to play a character this boisterous and egomaniacal. Thankfully, we know that Chris Evans’ real-life personality is very little like the character he plays in this film. And that’s what makes this supporting performance all-the-more impressive. It’s hammy and theatrical, but never overly so. It’s a character where the actor is given free license to play it up hammy and goofy, and he takes that opportunity and runs with it, without going totally overboard in the process.
There are many reasons to celebrate Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. And while Chris Evans only plays a minor part in the proceedings, he is most definitely among the highlights of this video game-loving coming-of-age romantic comedy, and Knives Out should hopefully return him into this mode.
1. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (2011-2019)
While I have a soft spot for Chris Evans’ excellent supporting turn in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, one would be hard-pressed to suggest that this is not the most definitive role of Chris Evans’ career. Ever since he took on the star-spangled character nearly ten years ago, Chris Evans has rose into super-stardom with the role of Captain America, the noble, optimistic, American-loving patriotic hero who fights for the best when it comes to other people.
The character made his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: The First Avenger, which proves to be among the more underrated of MCU’s movies. Chris Evans gives a tremendous performance in the period piece, providing the rousing spirit and the earnest good-heartness of the character in a manner that might feel dated to average viewers, but still rings true and sincere, no matter which generation it might be. And with other movies in the extensive cinematic universe, including The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and, most recently, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame (which might be his strongest turn in the franchise beyond The First Avenger), the actor has continued to dazzle and impress viewers everywhere, nationwide-and-not, through his bravado mixed with a tender, emotional earnestness.
It’s a charming, captivating performance, and one that has proven to be even more endearing and engaging for viewers with each new film. Now that the actor has decided to put the shield away, it is going to be intriguing to see where Chris Evans takes his career next. Will he continue to make big blockbusters? Will he resort to more indie movies and challenging contemporary sci-fi films like Sunshine and Snowpiercer? Will he make another go in the director’s chair like he did with his middling, but promising, directorial debut, Before We Go? It’s impossible to say for certain at this point in time.
But it’s clear that through Captain America, Chris Evans has provided the role that he will likely be known for throughout cinematic history. But that does not mean that his other roles should go overlooked. The actor has provided a slew of tremendous performances, even in underwhelming films, and it seems like he has some exciting projects in the works. For instance, Chris Evans has a new role in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, which should be a hell of a lot of fun, especially based on the first trailer. And it seems like he has a few other movies in the works that should be very interesting to see.
No matter what he has down the pipeline, we’ll continue to follow Chris Evans’ filmography with interest and keep you posted here at CinemaBlend.