Before Captain America: Civil War, before The Avengers, before even Captain America: The First Avenger, there already existed the hero of our times. A towering adonis of a man, with a visage carved by the hand of God himself and rolling muscles that could reduce a grown man to tears.
We speak, of course, of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four movies.
Nah, just kidding, and the less said about the Fantastic Four movies the better. But we are actually talking about the man behind the spandex, Chris Evans, who achieved widespread fame back with the 2011 release of The First Avenger as the de-facto leader of the MCU Avengers team: Captain America himself.
And since then he's gone on to star in the likes of Snowpiercer and the upcoming Gifted, in addition to a slew of romantic comedies. But he was no slouch before his breakthrough into the Marvel Cinematic Universe either.
Here we take a look back at his best roles from before he put on the star-spangled suit, so buckle up for the trip down memory lane you didn't know you needed until now.
1. Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
Who can forget the pinnacle of cinema that was Not Another Teen Movie? In Joel Gallen's teen movie comedy parody of the early noughties, Chris Evans portrays Jake Wyler — the popular jock — who attempts to woo the rebellious Janey Briggs to get back at his cheerleader ex-girlfriend, Priscilla.
Along the way, he faces issues with his incestuous sister Catherine, rivals for Janey's love, problems with his football career, and other assorted teen movie clichés before the big prom and the eventual hook-up with the object of his affection at the airport.
And who could forget the infamous Banana Split scene? As Chris Evans said of it later:
"The movie had me stick a banana in my ass. It wasn’t exactly some high brow art."
2. Sunshine (2007)
Arguably one of Danny Boyle's finest movies is the sci-fi mind-bender Sunshine, in which Chris Evans portrays Mace, an engineer who forms part of the Icarus II — a spaceship crew sent to reignite the sun by delivering a nuclear bomb into the heart of the dying star.
When a solar winter hits Earth in the year 2057, the Icarus mission is launched to reignite the sun, but disappears and is never heard from again. The Icarus II crew sets out years later, and is comprised of a number of highly trained individuals including Evans's rough around the edges Mace. But when they pick up the distress beacon of the lost Icarus I ship, the mission quickly goes awry.
We won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen Sunshine yet, but Evans's character has a pivotal scene that still sends shivers down our spines even now. The psychological sci-fi thriller was critically acclaimed upon release and has achieved a cult following, a small step up from shoving bananas in places bananas shouldn't go.
3. The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamond (2008)
Jodie Markell's The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond is based upon a forgotten screenplay by Tennessee Williams, written back in 1957. It stars Bryce Dallas Howard as a wealthy heiress named Fisher Willow who falls for a troubled man named Jimmy who works for her father. Jimmy is played by — you guessed it — Chris Evans.
In 1950s Memphis, it's time for the young Fisher Willow to be presented to high society, but family tensions are running high due to the devious actions of her father and her own wild behavior. Unable to find a suitor willing to be her escort, she chooses the alcoholic workhand Jimmy, a man who is considered too low class to be her equal.
Though she develops feelings for him, Fisher has to pay the broke Jimmy to have him escort her. And though a tricky relationship begins to bloom between them, social issues, misunderstandings and mental instability complicate matters as the movie unfolds towards the bittersweet ending.
4. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
Edgar Wright's critically acclaimed live-action version of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World graphic novel series has gone on to become a cult film since its release back in 2010, and it's another with Chris Evans's lovable stamp on it.
When Scott Pilgrim falls for the mysterious and popular Ramona Flowers, he learns he'll have to battle her seven Evil Exes to keep her hand — one of these exes being Evans's Lucas Lee, Hollywood actor and pro-skateboarder. Lee just happens to possess a kind of super-strength — some Captain America foreshadowing perhaps?
Sadly, Evans is only in one scene of the movie, but it has become one of his most recognizable roles — even if only because we got to watch him kick the crap out of Michael Cera for a while.
5. The Losers (2010)
Another comic book adaptation — but one that sometimes gets forgotten — is Sylvain White's adaptation of Andy Diggle's excellent series The Losers, which stars Chris Evans as goofy intelligence expert Cpt. Jake Jensen. The ensemble cast also includes fellow MCU actors Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Idris Elba (Thor), in addition to comic book movie veteran Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The Losers are an elite US Special Forces black ops team set up by the mysterious Max during a mission to Bolivia. Believed dead following an exercise that killed 25 children, the Losers go underground to begin plotting their revenge upon the man who ruined their lives, and meet up with the mysterious Aisha, who has her own agenda against Max.
Though the film received mixed reviews, Evans's take on the dorky Jensen is one of the standout performances of the film, and the famous elevator scene almost predicted his casting as Captain America: "I'm warning you, I am a lethal killing machine. It was a secret government experiment. They did stuff to me. Spooky stuff... Anal stuff."
Okay, maybe not the anal stuff. There does seem to be a running theme here though...
Never change Chris Evans, never change.