24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Chris Evans

With Chris Evans as Captain America, Marvel goes the rubber-faced route

March 22, 2010 |  7:39 pm

After seeing more jockeying and machinations than the health-care debate, Marvel has all but sealed a deal for Chris Evans to play Captain America. Most bloggers and journos are writing up the casting of the Fantastic Four actor as " 'Human Torch' gets cast as leading man," which we suppose is a slightly more diplomatic version of what many really wanted to say: "At least he's not Channing Tatum."

The interesting subtext here is that Marvel seems to be taking a step away from the recent trend in superhero casting. For a good chunk of the current comic-book renaissance, casting a lead role was about taking a hunky young unknown and seeing if he can act (like Brandon Routh, who it turned out couldn't, or Hugh Jackman, who could).

But more recently it's been about taking actors and seeing if they can play superhero (an experiment that for the most past has worked -- see under: Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Christian Bale as Batman). Evans marks a return to the lesser-known-hottie approach (literally -- the guy is credited as "Harvard Hottie" in the big-screen version of "The Nanny Diaries"). In fact, almost every one of the actors on the studio's short list, save perhaps for John Krasinski, is the chiseled, stone-faced type (the type formerly known as evincing modest acting skills and facial expression).

That's an approach that brings in a certain kind of younger female fan. But Captain America is a role that requires acting and comedy chops. As envisioned in the script, at least according to what we've been hearing, the title character isn't the unvarnished hero of the original WWII comic; he's a more marginalized type who's dissed a bit for his ingenue patriotism. Evans has a few substantive roles under his belt, including the indie "Loss of a Teardrop Diamond." Let's hope his turn here doesn't make us cry.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Chris Evans with Dakota Fanning in "Push." Credit: Hirotake Okazaki / Summit Entertainment


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