After a few roles on TV shows, Chris Evans got one of the starring roles in the 2001 comedy Not Another Teen Movie, a sendup of the teen comedies of the '80s and '90s. Four years later, having been in a few more films, Evans had his breakout role in the 2005 superhero movie Fantastic Four, where he played Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch.
Since then, his name has become synonymous with playing another superhero: To an entire generation, Evans is Steve Rogers aka Captain America. He has played the iconic Marvel superhero nine times, seven times in a leading role (2011's Captain America: the First Avenger, 2012's The Avengers, 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2016's Captain America: Civil War, 2018's Avengers: Infinity War and 2019's Avengers: Endgame) and twice in cameos (2015's Ant-Man and 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming). Besides being in massive Marvel movies, Evans has had roles in romantic comedies, thrillers, dramas and sci-fi films over the years.
Below, A.frame is revisiting the best of what the actor has delivered thus far in his career.
While Danny Boyle's sci-fi thriller Sunshine didn’t exactly make a splash at the domestic box office, the film was well-received by critics and many of its stars have gone on to become massive names, including Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, and, of course, Evans. Playing engineer James Mace, one of the key members on board a flight to reignite the dying sun in 2057, Evans gets the chance to play with dry humor and level-headed leadership — both qualities he would use later as Captain America. Evans has said that, of all his films, Sunshine is one of his favorites.
The definition of a cult favorite, Edgar Wright's hilarious and critically-acclaimed graphic novel adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, would go on to be immortalized by its online following despite underperforming at the box office. Here, Evans plays bully skateboarder Lucas Lee, one of Ramona Flowers' seven evil exes. Evans appears among an all-star cast which includes Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Oscar winner Brie Larson and more.
In the first film of the franchise that would make Evans a household name, we initially meet a skinny Steve Rogers in 1941 with the world in the throes of war. As pre-serum Cap, Rogers is eager to do his part. After repeatedly being rejected when trying to enlist for military duty, Rogers is recruited to be the subject of an experiment that could change his fortune. He enters the Vita-Ray Chamber physically weak and emerges from it as Captain America, a super soldier who possesses superhuman strength, durability, agility, reflexes and stamina.
The film also features the depiction of his deep friendship with hometown best friend James "Bucky" Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and his adorable romance with agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), a leading lady who falls in love with his personality over his super strength. The all-star cast also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper and Richard Armitage.
One of Evans' few proper rom-coms, the actor plays Anna Faris' playboy neighbor who aids her on a quest to explore old relationships, all before he realizes his true feelings. Despite a somewhat outdated premise (Faris thinks that she's hit her "number" of sexual partners and must begin to revisit exes), Evans imbues the role with vulnerability and humor.
One of director Bong Joon-ho's masterpieces, dystopian film Snowpiercer explores a world where the last remnants of humanity are trapped on a globe-trotting, snow-piercing train that traverses an Arctic world. But class-segregated compartments and squalid conditions prompt Curtis Everett (Evans), the leader of the lower-class passengers, to rebel against the train’s elites. In this intense journey from car to car, Evans is a reluctant hero, mixing unpredictable action sequences with the humanity needed to convey the perils of class stratification.
This Captain America follow-up is the rare sequel that surpasses the original. Evans returns as Steve Rogers – this time in the present day. Though Steve thinks he's left every remnant of his past behind, his old best friend Bucky, thought to have died in World World II, returns as the brainwashed assassin, the Winter Soldier.
Evans finds his humor alongside the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) while adding another layer of humanity to the mythical Captain America. Calling back to the best friends' promise in the first film ("I'm with you 'til the end of the line"), Evans shows Cap would rather die than turn his back on those he’s loyal to. A spy thriller as well as an action film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the first Marvel film directed by the Russo brothers.
In this romantic comedy-drama, Evans, making his directorial debut, stars as a New York City street performer who meets a woman (Alice Eve) who has missed her train. The two then spend the night trying to solve each other's problems, falling in love in the process. The charming film is worth a watch as a glimpse into Evans' filmmaking sensibilities.
A stark departure from previous roles as an action star and love interest, Evans leads Gifted, playing a man taking care of his prodigy niece who’s soon drawn into a custody battle with his mother. Acting alongside talented child actress Mckenna Grace, this emotional drama is a tear-jerker, showing Evans' range once again in a layered performance — one of his best. Directed by Marc Webb, the film co-stars Lindsay Duncan and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer.
In this ambitious and poignant end to the Avengers franchise, Evans brings Cap's story to a satisfying conclusion. Due to the film’s magnitude and cast in this powerhouse of a film from the Russo brothers, Evans is only given a few, brief scenes to bring his story to a close; luckily, he makes the most of them. The smash hit went on to become the highest grossing film of all time worldwide. (Avatar has since retaken the record following a re-release in China in 2021.)
Rian Johnson's twisty whodunnit, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, gives Evans the chance to hang up the Nice Guy image for a change. Evans plays Ransom Drysdale, the spoiled grandson — with an incredible cable-knit sweater — who is not happy about being left out of his wealthy grandfather's will. His layered performance as Ransom is thorough, with each rewarding rewatch revealing new clues to the character.
Despite the crime comedy-drama being packed with fellow A-listers, including Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, LaKeith Stanfield, Ana de Armas, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette and Don Johnson, Evans steals every Knives Out scene he's in, throwing out quick, witty insults, and easily transitioning from bad guy to good guy — and then back to bad guy again.
Ryan Gosling stars as Sierra Six, an off-the-books CIA operative who unwittingly uncovers the agency's dirty little secrets. And so, a psychotic mercenary named Lloyd Hansen (Evans) is sent in to eliminate him. Playing against type as the spy flick's villain, Evans chews the scenery and steals every scene he's in — making a good case for a bad mustache in the process.