Every couple of months, Twitter regurgitates the Battle of the Chrises. Chris Evans, Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt are pitted against one another in a new battle to be the No. 1 bland, muscular white dude named Chris.
Lately, Pratt’s been losing the war. Just look at this series of tweets dating back to April 2018: Pratt is resoundingly and repeatedly declared the Chris who has to go.
It happened again this week, causing several outlets to explain why Chris stans simply dislike the dude. A recap: After five years as a jolly, harmless himbo on Parks and Recreation, Pratt officially became a leading man in 2014 with starring roles in The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. But his personal life wasn’t as happy-go-lucky as his characters. Pratt publicly attends Hillsong, an anti-LGBTQ church. He was one of the few Parks and Rec alums who didn’t reunite to fundraise for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. And paparazzi have caught him wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” shirt, which in 2020 is a strange, parody-sparking conservative meme.
Combined, these stories have fashioned a new Pratt narrative: that he’s another white guy who frankly doesn’t seem to do much more than worry about being a white guy. To some, the most offensive thing about Pratt is how deeply generic he is. “Look, he was funny in Parks and Rec, but most likely because Aubrey Plaza carried him,” says Kyle Heiner, 23.
Is Pratt actually getting canceled? No, he’s still an A-list leading man — he’s just losing a dumb Twitter game. But his Avengers bud Mark Ruffalo and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn went out of their way to defend Pratt — and his church. (Where was this fervent support for Brie Larson in 2017?)
So, if I may, I have a solution. It’s time we replace Pratt with another Chris — one who, fortunately, has been waiting in the wings. That’d be Italian daddy Christopher Messina.
You may know Messina from, well, everything. He’s hot doctor Danny Castellano in The Mindy Project, and seedy (but still hot) detective Richard Willis in Sharp Objects. His IMDb filmography is seriously impressive, with roles in Six Feet Under,The Newsroom, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Argo.
While Pratt is certainly hot — we’re all for democratizing attractiveness here — he does tend to play the same bumptious guy in every role. Messina, however, can oscillate between rom-com boyfriend in Julie & Julia and sadistic bleached-blond villain Victor Zsasz in Birds of Prey. “Even when he is in a bad movie like Devil, he stands out,” syas Reeves Horsch, a 21-year-old Messina stan.
The power of Messina is strong off-screen, too. Messina doesn’t do social media, which is always a good sign for us terminally online people who can’t pull ourselves off. Hell, Messina can even make a fedora, the sartorial kryptonite for all men, look good.
There’s a balance that we must maintain with our four leading Chrises of Hollywood: attractiveness, likeability, talent and charisma. Pratt is losing goodwill online, and at the box office, his bankability is fading: Several of his most recent big-budget projects (with the exception of Avengers: Endgame), like The Lego Movie 2 and Onward, have disappointed at the box office.
Meanwhile, Messina is doing the most with supporting turns on Sharp Objects and The Sinner. “[Messina is] a workhorse! He hasn’t had the star vehicle yet, but he’s definitely earned his place among the top four Chrises,” says writer Dana Schwartz, who’s been a Messina fan since the Mindy Project days. Heiner also raves about Messina’s résumé: “Chris Messina did Sharp Objects. Chris Pratt did Passengers. Can I make it any more obvious?”
If we collectively can’t get Messina the starring role he deserves, the least we can do is have him replace the bottom-tier Chris in Hollywood. After all, these are all straight white dudes who’ve had enviable careers. If they’re not serving us, it’s time for them to go.