Conquering the Endgame
Chris Evans is a simple, goodhearted man—one who does his best to remain politically correct and do good in the world. We know him best as Captain America, and it’s safe to say that there are many comparisons to be drawn between the two, but he wasn’t always known as the fierce, courageous superhero.
Back in the early 2000s Evans was known as a muscly hunk who accepted movie roles as the bad boy or the jock—usually shirtless. His first role in a major motion picture was exactly that as he played cool guy Jake Wyler in Not Another Teen Movie, a 2001 flick that was humorously created to poke fun at cliché high school movies like She’s All That.
He played a similar part in the 2004 comedy The Perfect Score alongside Scarlett Johansson, before landing his second most popular role in 2005’s Fantastic Four. This was his first crack at playing a superhero, as he played the good-looking, charming, and often rude Johnny Storm, aka Human Torch. The film was a commercial success, and saw a video game inspired by it, as well as Halloween costumes and even action figures. This was Evans’ first real taste of fame and success due to his acting. Like we now know, it was also far from being his last time playing a comic book character.
After Fantastic Four, Evans continued pursuing his acting career, landing some highs but also some lows. He starred in London in 2005, a drama/romance film that starred Jessica Biel and Jason Statham. Evans and Biel had been dating on and off since 2001 at this point, both of them rising actors who still managed to remain low-key in the press. They had starred in one other movie together before this one, a 2004 flick called Cellular. Neither films were really successful, but they helped them continue to gain experience in the industry. The couple eventually split in 2006, and Biel is now married to Justin Timberlake.
In 2007, Chris Evans lent his acting chops to the supernatural once again as he voiced Casey in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That same year he also revived his role as Johnny Storm for Fantastic Four’s sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer. Yet another movie that featured him that busy year was The Nanny Diaries, a rom-com that saw him acting alongside longtime friend Scarlett Johansson again.
In 2010, Evans starred in one of his most well-liked movies, the action/comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which stars Michael Cera, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza. The movie didn’t do that well at the box office, but it became a cult-classic of sorts due to its humor and attention-grabbing storyline.
A year later, as Evans was filming his drama Puncture, he wondered if acting was for him. He had started to doubt his talent and was suffering from anxiety on set. He would often get panic attacks and have to calm himself down.
“There was no reason that after 10 years of making movies, I was freaking out the way I was,” Evans shares, “I started to entertain the possibility that maybe this wasn’t the right industry for me. I started to think, ‘Am I getting closer to the person I’m supposed to be, or further?’”
It was during this turning point in his life, that the opportunity of a lifetime came to him…and he shot it down. “Getting the [Captain America] offer felt to me like the epitome of temptation. The ultimate job offer, on the biggest scale. I’m supposed to say no to this thing. It felt like the right thing to do.” And so, that’s what he did. When Marvel approached him with a nine-film contract to play the legendary superhero, Evans turned it down. Due to the anxiety and doubt he had been feeling in the months leading up the offer, he felt unprepared to take on a role so big. Marvel approached Evans a second time, offering him a six-movie deal instead of the first offered nine. He passed on the deal yet again. Marvel then persuaded him to visit their Marvel Studios, hoping to finally seal the deal. They were dead set on casting Evans as Captain America. After a tour of the studio, and some consulting with friends and family, including Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., he accepted the part. “I was scared…[but] it ended up kind of clicking to me in the way that whatever you’re scared of, push yourself into it,” Evans’ admitted.
And so, the legend of the Avengers began, with Captain America leading the way in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Evans’ fears had been unwarranted; critics loved him as Captain America. As for his struggle with anxiety, he decided to start seeing a therapist, a decision he claims is one of his best.
The following year, he starred in The Avengers, which was a worldwide hit. It featured all of the iconic beloved superheroes on one screen—Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America, and Thor came together to fight evil, with Evan’s character leading the way. The movie made a total of $623 million domestically and $1.5 billion internationally. If it wasn’t clear by now, Chris had made the right choice.
He continued his superhero reign in 2014 for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and then the next year teamed up with his superhero squad again for Avengers: Age of Ultron. As these types of movies go, they both did very well at the box office, and Evans found himself willing to do the original nine-movie deal that he had formerly turned down. He had developed a love and appreciation for his character and felt as though they both had many similarities.
“When you’re playing a character for a long time, you start to see the parallels between what the character’s going through and what you’re going through,” he shared.
In 2016, he went on to star in Captain America: Civil War, which saw the new Spider-Man played by Tom Holland making his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The last two Avengers films, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) were the most intense, both clocking in at nearly three hours long. Fans went crazy for these epic films, as they watched their favorite superheroes fly, shoot, kick, and smash their way through countless villains to save humanity from the hand of Thanos. After the whirlwind of playing the beloved Steve Rogers/ Captain America for eight years, his journey as the character had come to an end. In Endgame, Captain America dies of old age after deciding to live out his life in a different time frame (a time where his lover, Peggy Carter, was still alive). The movie ends with Captain America passing on his legacy to Falcon. So how does Chris feel about his legacy coming to an end? Well…bittersweet. “Man…I choked up like three times. It’s hard seeing my own death,” he said, laughing.
The last couple of weeks filming Endgame were tough. He had to power through, knowing the whole time how his character’s own life and story come to an end, but he remained grateful and happy for the experience nonetheless.
“It felt like graduating high school or college …for the last month of filming I was letting myself go to work every day and be a little overwhelmed and a little nostalgic and grateful.”
Now that Evans has put down his shield and duty as Cap, he’s free to explore other avenues, characters, and adventures in life. He wants to dabble in directing again (His first directorial debut was 2014’s Before We Go), continue to do plays, and spend some time with family. In 2018, he went back to his inner theatre kid as he made his Broadway debut in Lobby Hero, a play that also starred Michael Cera and Brian Tyree Henry. In high school, he was very involved in his theater program, starring in amateur versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Winter’s Tale, so it felt good to experience that side of acting again. Lobby Hero was well-received by critics, with many praising Evans’ acting and the the depth that he brought to his character.
Chris has already picked up new involvements in film this year. He starred in The Red Sea Diving Resort in July, and now on November 27th, he will play Ransom Drysdale, the grandson of mystery author Harlan Thrombey, who has died of an apparent “suicide.” A police offer played by Daniel Craig suspects differently, as he orders the family house on lockdown to find out who has really committed this murder. The movie, Knives Out, is a classic mystery “whodunnit” that has an incredible cast; Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lakeith Stanfield, and Michael Shannon star in it. Chris is also set to appear in Defending Jacob, a crime drama TV show that’s exclusive to Apple. In it, he will play Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney that is trying to find the killer of a 14-year-old boy; he realizes that his son is actually a suspect in the murder, and drama ensues. Evans is certainly pursuing wildly different characters from his former righteous superhero part, and it’s exciting to see! Keep an eye on him, as he continues to branch out, grow, and flame on!
By Selene Rivera