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Chris Wars Check-in: How’s Chris Pine Doing?

With a glorious supporting turn in ‘Wonder Woman,’ the third-best Chris in Hollywood is climbing the rankings

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

Chris Pine has never been a premiere Chris. Stacked up against the famous peers he shares a first name with — Evans, Hemsworth, and Pratt — and judged in a variety of different categories, Pine has come up short in two separate iterations of the Chris Wars. In the second War of the Chrises, almost exactly a month ago, I wrote this about Chris Pine, who finished third in the contest:

"It seems Pine is destined to forever be a Cult Chris, feverishly beloved by a select few but never fully breaking through to the mainstream."

Oh, how things change. The release of Wonder Woman, in which Pine stars as love interest Steve Trevor to Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, might be a turning point in the Chris Wars. After Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and Co. gave Pine a role full of unexpected depth and levity, he flourished, and now the buzz around the movie has given the actor a remarkable amount of fresh juice. "Pine is always there to facilitate joy, never to nip it in the bud," The Ringer’s Alison Herman wrote, after also mentioning that "Chris Pine is winning the Hollywood Chris Wars and will be for the foreseeable future." Remember where you were when you first saw a fully naked Chris Pine exit a glowing hot tub — for that was the day that the Chris Wars were changed forever. The success of Wonder Woman also appears to be seeping into Pine’s public persona to create a Chris that truly ought to be reckoned with.

It’s gotten to the point where the winner of the 2017 Chris Wars — Chris Evans, in repeat fashion — must be reevaluated. Just as the United Kingdom allows for parliamentary elections to take place before the end of a term in times of great flux, so too do we reserve the right to reopen the Chris Wars if any of the Chrises goes on a hot streak. And Chris Pine is on fire. If he’s not winning the war right now, he’s at least putting the rest of the contestants on notice. Here’s why:

Love Interest Chris Pine

Previously, we had rated the Chrises based on their ability to carry franchises. While that’s still an integral part of being the best Chris, Pine’s performance in Wonder Woman has proved that there are alternate routes to achieving absolute Chris-ness. As American spy Steve Trevor, Pine is equal parts dashing and daft. He rails against the corrupted morals of man with conviction, as any good World War I soldier should, but he also fumbles awkwardly over charged interactions with Diana Prince, as any man would. The scene in which Steve clumsily explains the social mores of men and women sleeping together to Diana is the best, most succinct argument in about a decade for why Hollywood should make more rom-coms (and cast Chris Pine and Gal Gadot in all of them).

Pine managed to pull off something tricky here. Sure, he made an impact in one of the biggest blockbusters of the year while still (thankfully) ceding the spotlight to Gadot — a nice gold star on his Franchise Chris report card. But Pine also established a brand-new category in the Chris Wars, and rocketed to the top of its rankings. Try to insert Evans, Hemsworth, or Pratt into the role of Steve Trevor — it just doesn’t work. Evans hasn’t had to be funny since What’s Your Number? Hemsworth played a beautiful meathead in Ghostbusters, but has only action movies lined up for the foreseeable future. And we’ve already seen how little chemistry Pratt was able to conjure up with a strong female character who can rock the hell out of a pantsuit. Pine has this category completely boxed out right now, if only because none of the other guys have even recently had a chance to challenge him. They might want to take a note out of Pine’s book and spend only part of their time playing the lead in big franchise flicks — that way they can build out their résumés with low-risk/high-reward/extremely-high-charm roles like Steve Trevor.

Late-Night Chris Pine

Late-Night Chris Pine got off to a rough start in 2017, mostly because in this year’s Chris Wars, Quality Late-Night Time was defined as "any time spent NOT playing goofy games with oversized objects, lip-synch or rap battling, singing karaoke, or doing anything painfully out of touch." Up to that point Pine had appeared only on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he and Fallon traded blows while wearing enormous rubber hands. Heading into Wonder Woman’s release, though, Pine got things back on track.

First off, real strong ankle here:


Shimmering sockless shins aside, though, Pine also managed to create some endearing moments while on Late Night With Seth Meyers. He did a terrible impression of a Canadian accent, couldn’t stop praising Lorne Michaels’s cashmere sweaters — a thing that is creepy if you, a normal person, do it but is amazing and cute and adorable if Chris Pine, a handsome movie star, does it — and, my favorite, corrected Seth Meyers’s pronunciation of Themyscira. Themyscira is the island paradise where Wonder Woman is from. It is pronounced them-eh-skeer-ah. There is absolutely no reason to expect someone to have a working knowledge of how to pronounce the name of a made-up island inhabited by Amazonian warrior women, and yet Chris Pine demands more. When Meyers pronounces Themyscira them-eh-sky-rah, Pine pounces with a correction.

When Meyers retorts, "Come on, I got pretty close," Pine hardly laughs. Don’t bring those lackadaisical phonetics into Chris Pine’s house, Seth — he’s not having it. You can call this nitpicking if you want. I call it striving for higher standards in the elocution of fictional locations. It’s also good late-night TV.

GQ Chris Pine

When Chris Pine cut off his hair — a mane that was the nexus of all that is good and American — it seemed likely that he’d take a step back as a male fashion icon. But the buzz cut is working, my friends, much as it did for Justin Timberlake in 2001, or Brad Pitt/Tyler Durden at the end of Fight Club. In fact, the new haircut is actually breathing new life into Pine’s status as a style role model. GQ is loving this guy right now:

Next on its editorial calendar: "Chris Pine Is the Zeus of Summer Suits — Burn Everything You Own and Be More Like Him."

It’s important for Chris Wars contestants to be front and center in the minds of men’s fashion bloggers. Being the best Chris is about more than good movie performances and charming affect — presentation comes into play as well. At the height of his powers, Chris Wars champion Chris Evans was GQ’s boyfriend, but its allegiances have clearly shifted. If Pine can snatch that honor away from Evans, who knows where he’ll stop.

And one more note on the haircut: It was a smart fiscal move. The only place fans can see Chris Pine sweeping away a strand of hair is in Wonder Woman, which he shot while still bearing the mane of a handsome lion. The privilege of seeing Chris Pine’s hair will cost you the price of a trip to the movie theater, which only puts more money in Chris Pine’s pockets. Clever and handsome!

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Heat Check Chris Pine

During a junket interview last week for Wonder Woman, Pine was feeling himself. The movie’s box office expectations were only growing, and surely Pine suspected that he had a hit on his hands. So when an answer about Jenkins turned toward commentary on the layered substance of Wonder Woman, Pine decided to go all the way and take some shots at the Marvel Cinematic Universe — the franchise that has dominated Pine’s employer for years. He came at the king(s), like any Chris who’s been hitting nothing but net for 30 straight days would. Unfortunately, he missed.

This was bound to happen. Things have been going so right for Chris Pine that it was only a matter of time before he jumped off a cliff with a wild hot take. In going after the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pine takes umbrage at how those movies are "a bunch of people killing one another in outfits and blowing up cities," as if Wonder Woman didn’t feature a scene IN THE MIDDLE OF WORLD WAR I in which a superhero pulverizes a church. Then he says, "There’s this thing called Infinity War coming out, which is like, I don’t — really, like, Infinity War? We need more war for all time?" First of all, Pine doesn’t have much room to talk — again, as good as Wonder Woman is, the last 20 minutes of the movie is a violent battle between two demigods. Before that, Diana Prince joined Batman and Superman to fight a Metropolis-destroying creature in Batman v Superman, while a slew of antiheroes went to war against a mythical entity played by Cara Delevingne in Suicide Squad. As the DC Universe expands in the following years, more wars will be fought. That’s just a fact of the superhero movie genre, regardless of whether the film is made by Marvel or DC. Secondly, though, who is going to tell Chris Pine that Marvel’s Infinity War is a title that shouldn’t quite be taken literally? Because right now I think he thinks the MCU is going to conclude with a never-ending war movie.

This was Chris Pine’s heat check. It doesn’t look great, but it also wasn’t the craziest thing a Chris has recently said about superhero films.

Even after needling Marvel with criticisms that his side is also totally guilty of, May and June have been momentous months for Chris Pine. Next up, Pine hopes to again go where no Chris has gone before — this time by winning an Oscar. With the upcoming Outlaw King and A Wrinkle in Time, Pine will be working with two directors, David Mackenzie (who worked with Pine on Hell or High Water) and Ava DuVernay, who demand the academy’s attention — perfect opportunities for an actor who is able to stand out when given the right material. Mark our words: Chris Pine is a Cult Chris no longer.