It was the role that made Chris Evans a household name (unless you’re over 40 and remember his infamous whipped cream scene in Not Another Teen Movie) but the 42-year-old has revealed that playing Captain America in The Avengers films was something of a gilded cage.

Chris Evans
LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 13: Chris Evans attends the UK Premiere of Disney Pixars’ “Lightyear” on June 13, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK)

In a recent interview, Evans admitted that he agreed with the sentiments famously shared by Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese that Marvel, and the superhero genre, had killed the movie star. To his credit, Evans managed to spin this as a positive as far as his experience was concerned, even saying that the restrictions it came with were something he worked well with because it was the character, not the actor, who became the focus for fans.

“That was the beauty of working on Marvel films. You never really had to be front and centre,” says Evans. “You know, [Tarantino’s] right. The character is the star. You’re there, but you don’t feel the burden of it.”

Chris Evans

This passing comment is part of a much bigger debate in Hollywood and the way that these franchises are cannibalising their own industry.

To put Tarantino’s quote in context, the Kill Bill director believes that the impact of Marvel, and these superhero blockbusters, has meant actors become tied to a role they’re unable to break free from. “Part of the Marvel-isation of Hollywood is, you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters, but they’re not movie stars,” Tarantino is quoted as saying. “Captain America is the star, or Thor is the star… it’s these franchise characters that become a star.”

Gone are the days of chameleons Robert Redford, Tim Roth or even John Travolta. Chris Hemsworth will always be Thor – not just because of the movies but also the physical transformation that was required of him to play it.

Acting is more than good looks. It’s body language and speaking without words. The infamous Marvel makeover of its male stars means, if they sign on franchise-wise, the field of opportunity begins to narrow.

Cannes Film Festival, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Armani, Alexander McQueen
CANNES, FRANCE – MAY 20: Leonardo DiCaprio, Director Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro attend the “Killers Of The Flower Moon” red carpet during the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Martin Scorsese was of course even more scathing about the toxic superhero: the director of some of the greatest movies of our time simply said Marvel isn’t cinema and that its rise was costing the art form its very art. “What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger,” he later wrote in the New York Times.