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A Brief Ode to Chris Messina’s Creepy Weirdo in ‘Birds of Prey’

The Chris Wars just got disrupted by a guy who dresses like a Miami retiree and likes to peel off faces

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Spoiler warning

It is a truth not quite universally acknowledged—mostly just by me—that Chris Messina always has been an elite Hollywood Chris. From a split-second cameo as a weirdly jacked book salesman in You’ve Got Mail to his iconic striptease in The Mindy Project to sweating his way through Sharp Objects, Messina has always had it.

What is it? Hard to say. Perhaps it’s something akin to BDE; a special kind of short-guy equivalent that has simultaneously kept Messina from achieving the überfame of his 6-foot-plus counterparts and made him more interesting than all of them put together. And Messina’s SSGE (Sexy Short Guy Energy) reached its all-time peak last year at the 2019 Golden Globes, when Messina hit the red carpet as a newly bleached blond and launched the re-ranking of a thousand Hollywood Chris lists.

The internet quickly realized that Messina’s new platinum ’do was for his role in Birds of Prey, and for the entire year to follow, I anticipated Messina’s upcoming supervillain turn with shameless glee. I was not disappointed. No Chris performance in recent years has been as gloriously unhinged as Messina’s take on murderous henchman Victor Zsasz. (Excluding, of course, the one time Chris Pine wore that caftan in Italy.) Pratt could never. Hemsworth would never. Chris Evans wishes his knives were this far out.

Messina’s Victor Zsasz is one part sniveling grunt, one part psycopathic serial killer, one part queer-coded comic relief. His platinum hair was ultimately paired with a grimy black beard, heavy eyeliner, one metal tooth, and a wardrobe straight out of The Sopranos; don’t ask me how it works, but it does. It really, really does. (It seems important to note that Zsasz spends a significant portion of the movie literally peeling faces off, murdering various women, and doing pretty much all of Ewan McGregor’s dirty work. This is not an endorsement of Zsasz’s choices; it is simply to say that I can think of worse ways to go.)

Ultimately, as justice demands, Zsasz goes out via crossbow bolt (and about 30 individual stab wounds via Harley Quinn) as the women of Birds of Prey defeat him and his *cough* “BFF” Roman Sionis. (Sure, Jan.)

So join me. Tear up that previously stagnant Chris ranking and walk with me through the doors of a new Chris era. Leave Pratt and Evans to their delusions of grandeur—er, attempts to “bridge the divide”—and let us follow Messina to the dirtbag dark side.