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Who Is Winning the Chris Wars?

Three Chrises — Evans, Pine, and Hemsworth — enter. One Chris leaves. This is their story.

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

Friday marked the release of Star Trek Beyond, the bounce-back third chapter of the series reboot launched by J.J. Abrams in 2009. Abrams, of course, has since left for greener (if James Cameron–agitative) pastures, leaving the director’s chair to Justin Lin. And while Star Trek Beyond is certainly fascinating from the perspectives of both business and cinema, it remains a far more urgent text from another perspective.

And that is the perspective of the CHRIS WARS.

What are the Chris Wars? It’s the war that has been waged for the past several millennia — sorry, hang on, I’m getting new information — for the past five years, between the three central Chris-bots* of the Hollywood universe:

Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pine.

(*Chris Pratt is considered a Chris-human, not a Chris-bot, by most governing Chris Wars bodies, and is thus ineligible for Chris Wars.)

The rules of Chris Wars are simple: Seven categories, weighted equally, with points awarded based on placement within each category. Each category measures something different, while also serving to measure the exact same thing — the most essential and fundamental quality that a Chris can have in the world: Chris-ness.

Three Chrises enter. Only one Chris survives.

This is Chris Wars: Episode V — Chris for the Summer. Let’s fight:

Franchise Chris

Playing Captain America has made Chris Evans one of the biggest stars in the world. Playing Captain America has earned Chris Evans tens of millions of dollars. And there’s an increasingly plausible argument to be made that Chris Evans’s Captain America has overtaken Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man as Marvel’s flagship movie franchise. Chris Evans, as Captain America, is not lacking in credit.

And yet I wonder if we still might undersell the job he’s been doing.

By which I mean: I wonder if we still might undersell the job Chris Evans has been doing playing an unlikable dork.

Consider Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which faced almost the identical problem that Captain America: Civil War faced this year: an out-of-time, “dorky” protagonist (Superman), at odds with a more modern, “cool” protagonist (Batman). Snyder’s solution? Right: Make A SNUFF FILM WHERE THE DORK DIES AT THE END. It’s funny to think about, but seriously: that’s how sure — how dead-ass, bulletproof certain — Zack Snyder was in the idea that his film’s target demographic didn’t want to root for a dork. He literally killed the dork.

Captain America, meanwhile, is arguably as much of a dork as Superman: He’s surely no more fun; he has (even by comic book standards) rude politics; he won’t even kiss Bucky one time — one time! One time. It’s one kiss! One tender, perfect kiss — and he emits the Self-Righteousness Blues of a walking Facebook post. But mostly? Yeah, he’s just a dork. And in Civil War, the “dork” has to face off against Iron Man: the “cool” kid — the Batman, essentially — of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And yet Evans, miracle of miracles, avoids hitting Snyder’s panic buttons. He is never self-lacerating toward the character. His performance is never apologetically “in on it,” or winking, or anything that Steve Rogers is not. Instead, Evans has the skill and confidence as an actor to work through it. He digs in, dorks out, and leaves the snark to … well, whatever the person-size thing is that’s attached to Robert Downey Jr.’s goatee. Evans simply plays the Marvel Universe as it lays — which is a feat of discipline that almost no other MCU-era lead has been able to accomplish. It’s a heavyweight performance, and an underrated tightrope walk.

Pine’s Kirk and Hemsworth’s Thor, on the other hand, have begun to feel slightly … I don’t know … unnecessary? Which isn’t to say they’re bad performances — at all. Pine nails Kirk’s “one time, drunk at a bar, someone told me, ‘you should really do stand-up’” swagger, and his “I’ve ghosted on myself — and I forgave me” charm. As for Hemsworth, well: He was pretty clearly put on Earth to play Thor. Like — if Chris Hemsworth wasn’t playing Thor, then there would probably be some sort of national “why isn’t Chris Hemsworth playing Thor” conversation. These are both totally likable performances.

But at the same time, maybe it’s time we asked: What are those likable performances amounting to?

RANKINGS: (1) Evans (three points), (2) Hemsworth (two points), (3) Pine (one point)

Advanced Chris Metrics

VORH (Value Over Replacement Hair)

VORH measures a Chris’s hair’s contribution to the world when compared to “replacement hair,” which is defined (roughly) as average Chris hair.

1. Hemsworth: +9.92

2. Pine: +3.51

3. Evans: +1.75

TCRTHD (Total Celebrities Rumored To Have Dated)

1. Evans: 13 (Jessica Biel, Gisele Bündchen, Emmy Rossum, Minka Kelly, Christina Ricci, Vida Guerra, Kristin Cavallari, Sacha Kemp, Sandra Bullock, Lucy Pinder, Lily Collins, Elizabeth Olsen, Jenny Slate)

2. Pine: 10 (Sorel Carradine, Beau Garrett, Audrina Patridge, Olivia Munn, Nathalie Walker, Jasmine Waltz, Dominique Piek, Amanda Frances Horne, Iris Björk Jóhannesdóttir, Zoë Kravitz)

3. Hemsworth: 2 (Isabel Lucas, Elsa Pataky)

ITMYO (Inches Tall Minus Years Old)

1. Hemsworth: 43 (75–32)

t2. Pine: 37 (72–35)

t2. Evans: 37 (72–35)

SAYSAENW (Speculative And Yet Somehow Authoritative Estimated Net Worth)

1. Hemsworth: $60 million

2. Evans: $40 million

3. Pine: $20 million

RIMDbTPM (Real IMDb Trivia Plus-Minus)

1. Pine: +97 (“Enjoys skeet shooting.”)

2. Hemsworth: +64 (“The last four letters of his surname are the same letters that form his most associated on-screen character’s name: Thor.”)

3. Evans: +25 (“Scored 1180 on his SATs.”)

TS/48* (Tear Shares Per 48 Oscars Minutes)

*TS/48 measures how many tears a given Chris contributes per 48 minutes of Oscars telecast.

1. Pine: 21.95

t2. Evans: 0.00

t2. Hemsworth: 0.00

RANKINGS: (1) Hemsworth (three points), (2) Evans (two points), (3) Pine (one point)

Minor Chris*

*Minor Chris can be more-or-less understood to mean “inessential Chris roles,” though your mileage may vary.

Minor Pine begins borderline majorly, with one of the most marriageable debuts I’ve ever seen: as Nicholas — that’s “Nick,” to you, during archery lessons — Devereaux in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. It’s a great performance, and wins Pine a lot of fans. But eventually … there are issues: This Means War, a 2012 rom-com in which Pine battles Tom Hardy for Reese Witherspoon’s boredom, is a dud. 2012’s People Like Us — a bid for seriousness that ends up wherever the opposite of seriousness is — is an even bigger dud. And 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is — hang on, wait: How do you mess up a JACK RYAN movie? Seriously, I want to know; please, please tell me. Like: I don’t even understand the literal, raw logistics of how that happens. As far as I can tell, here are the “not messing up a Jack Ryan movie” basic requirements: (1) Have someone be named Jack Ryan, and (2) that’s it — you did it; we’re so proud of you.

And yet.

Thankfully, Pine manages to rebound: with faint — it still counts — Oscar buzz for his (are we overusing the phrase “scene-stealing”? I’m not saying one way or the other; I’m just asking) scene-stealing performance in 2014’s Into the Woods. More strong reviews follow for 2015’s dystopian indie Z for Zachariah. But even so: You don’t come back from an L like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit in two movies. These things take time. And right now time’s still taking. Minor Pine in 2016 is a decidedly mixed bag.

Minor Hemsworth is light on quantity — and frankly, thank god: Chris Hemsworth giving off “hard worker” vibes would almost definitely ruin it. (What’s “it”? Don’t worry about it.) Let’s just say: Rush is dope, and move on.

Minor Evans, on the other hand, is littered with curiosities. You’ve got Fantastic Four, a truly hacky — even by the modest standards of mid-’00s “Have you seen Tobey Maguire’s house? What the FUCK”–wave — entry into the comic book film canon. You’ve got The Nanny Diaries, in which Evans plays a character named Harvard Hottie (Jesus Christ, 2007) . You’ve got 2008’s Street Kings (way underrated; Kate Winslet’s performance in Triple 9 knows what I’m talking about). You’ve got 2009’s Push, a middling — even by the modest standards of late-’00s “Have you seen Tobey Maguire’s second house? What the FUCK”–wave — entry into the comic book film canon. You’ve got 2010’s The Losers: Essentially Smokin’ Aces for people who say, “My Pulp Fiction is Smokin’ Aces.” You’ve even got cult fave / Cera last gasp / not for me, but I get it and I want you to be happy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And — if you really want to get crazy — you’ve got Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer: either a masterpiece or a misfire or an excuse to say, “Trains, I love ’em,” depending on whom you ask. (But probably just don’t ask.)

Anyway: Minor Chris Evans! What a journey.

RANKINGS: (1) Evans (three points), (2) Hemsworth (two points), (3) Pine (one point)

Summer Chris

This summer, Chris Evans has put out a self-aware blockbuster and become Jenny Slate’s trophy boyfriend. Chris Evans has had a great summer.

This summer, Chris Hemsworth has quietly entered the Bond sweepstakes and authored the world’s blondest teachable moment. Chris Hemsworth has had a good summer.

This summer, Chris Pine has eaten food off the floor and also Idris Elba’s fist. Chris Pine has had a bad summer.

RANKINGS: (1) Evans (three points), (2) Hemsworth (two points), (3) Pine (one point)

Wildly Informal Ringer Staff Chris Poll

(1) Evans, (2) Pine, (3) Hemsworth — Katie Baker

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Alyssa Bereznak

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Carl Brooks Jr.

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Justin Charity

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Danny Chau

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — K. Austin Collins

(1) Evans, (2) Pine, (3) Hemsworth — Jason Concepcion

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Allison P. Davis

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Pine, (3) Evans — Amanda Dobbins

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Pine, (3) Evans — Sam Donsky

(1) Pine, (2) Evans, (3) Hemsworth — Rubie Edmondson

(1) Pine, (2) Evans, (3) Hemsworth — Sean Fennessey

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Evans, (3) Pine — Tate Frazier

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Rob Harvilla

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Alison Herman

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Evans, (3) Pine — Kate Knibbs

(1) Pine, (2) Evans, (3) Hemsworth — Donnie Kwak

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Evans, (3) Pine — Juliet Litman

(1) Evans, (2) Pine, (3) Hemsworth — Riley McAtee

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Pine, (3) Evans — Molly McHugh

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Pine, (3) Evans — Ryan O’Hanlon

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Mallory Rubin

(1) Hemsworth, (2) Pine, (3) Evans — Chris Ryan

(1) Pine, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Evans — Sam Schube

(1) Evans, (2) Hemsworth, (3) Pine — Lindsay Zoladz

RANKINGS: (1) Evans (three points), (2) Hemsworth (two points), (3) Pine (one point)

Major Chris

The Evans filmography peaks with Sunshine: Danny Boyle’s underrated almost-classic about a team of astronauts that goes on a mission to — “blow up the sun” isn’t strictly true, they’re technically “reigniting” the sun by strapping it to a nuclear fission bomb … OK nevermind, fuck it — blow up the sun. Evans plays Mace, and travels a nice arc from “belligerent astroengineer” to “slightly less belligerent dead astroengineer.” It’s a smart, subtle performance.

The Hemsworth filmography peaks with Blackhat: Michael Mann’s strangely elegant and deeply jarring ode to how good hot people can be at typing if they just put their minds to it. Hemsworth plays Nick Hathaway, a computer genius who is able to hack into the NSA’s database by — it’s unclear? But let’s speculate — he does it by telling the database, “You look really pretty tonight.” Blackhat is Very Good Mann, and Best Possible Hemsworth.

The Pine filmography peaks with Unstoppable: an amazing Denzel Washington movie, that Chris Pine is also in.

RANKINGS: (1) Hemsworth (three points), (2) Evans (two points), (3) Pine (one point)

Future Chris

Hemsworth: Marvel shit.

Evans: Jenny Slate + Marvel shit.

Pine: WONDER WOMAN.

RANKINGS: (1) Pine (three points), (2) Evans (two points), (3) Hemsworth (one point)

***FINAL CHRIS RANKINGS***

1. Chris Evans (18 points)

2. Chris Hemsworth (15 points)

3. Chris Pine (9 points)

Congratulations to Chris Evans, the winner of 2016’s Chris Wars, and the champion Chris of the summer.