Chris Evans with a bruised and bloody face in 'Snowpiercer'
(CJ Entertainment)

How Nikki Haley’s Vileness Helped Put the Internet’s Ire on Chris Evans

Maybe don't do anything Nikki Haley would also do?

Uh-oh! Another celebrity has done a big no-no. Well, the latest scandal involving Marvel star Chris Evans is, perhaps, a bit more nuanced than that, which is exactly why it’s deserving of an explanation. So, why is the actor in hot water for something he did nearly a decade ago, and why is it relevant now?

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Amid President Joe Biden’s continued support of the Israeli military, many A-listers have used their platforms to bring awareness to the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Renée Rapp, Ramy Youssef, Nicola Coughlan, Mark Ruffalo, and Pedro Pascal are among the most vocal advocates for Palestinians in light of the latest airstrike on the city of Rafah—a supposed “safe zone” for refugees. The Israel-led attack killed at least 45 people, according to a recent NPR report, though the death toll is likely higher.

With violence only escalating overseas and Election Day on the not-so-distant horizon here in the U.S., demand for a permanent ceasefire is increasing as new images and videos from Rafah have continued to circulate online. One such photo showing former South Carolina Governor (and right-wing ghoul) Nikki Haley signing an Israeli artillery shell with the caption “finish them!” during a Memorial Day visit to the country is—understandably—sparking heated debates. Do I even need to explain why this blatant act of barbarianism is … bad???

What does this have to with Chris Evans?

Context out of the way, here’s how the aforementioned applies to Captain America himself, Chris Evans. You see, an image of the Knives Out star signing what appears to be a very similar-looking IDF artillery shell like the one Nikki Haley signed made the rounds on social media over the weekend, leading some to believe that Evans is publicly expressing support for Israel. It’s also worth mentioning that Evans previously garnered criticism for the same picture back in February, but given the recent discourse surrounding Haley, it’s resurfaced yet again.

However, this isn’t exactly the truth, as the photo was taken wildly out of context, according to the actor himself. Evans took to his Instagram stories yesterday, May 30, 2024, to clear up the image, writing, “There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding this picture. Some clarification: This image was taken during a USO tour in 2016,” adding, “I went with a group of actors, athletes and musicians to show appreciation for our service members.”

So, according to Evans, this was—from the sound of it—a way for him to show his support for enlisted U.S. servicemen and servicewomen, which is perfectly fine and dandy. There’s also the off-chance that this was a publicity move to promote Captain America: Civil War, which, yes, you guessed it, premiered in 2016. A mix of both, perhaps? He continued in his statement, “The object I was asked to sign is not a bomb, or a missile, or a weapon of any kind. It’s an inert object used for training or display purposes only. You can read the quote from the Air Force in the next story,” before going on to share a screenshot of said article.

Per the article Evans shared to his social media account, “The object Chris Evans is signing in the U.S.O. tour photo from 2016 is an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) inert training aid,” an Air Force spokesperson said. “The object is meant to model an artillery shell and is for display and training purposes only.” Additionally, a USO representative confirmed that the photo was indeed taken back in 2016 during a Holiday Tour.

So, there you have it. Another big misunderstanding. In an age of rampant misinformation, it’s become startlingly easy to manipulate photos, tweets, and videos to fit a certain—oftentimes false—narrative. And yeah, despite ongoing efforts to improve media literacy, people on the internet will still believe pretty much anything they see. Plus, the evolution of AI means it’s easier than ever to forge false images, meaning it’s a wise move to not pose for a picture that would draw the attention of, well, creative retouchers, when you’re one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. Just sayin.’

At the same time, hopefully, we’ve all learned a valuable lesson here about why it’s probably not a great idea to put your John Hancock on what, to many, appears to be a weapon of mass destruction, regardless whether or not it’s real.

It’s also worth noting that Evans neglected to share any donation links or sources while taking to his Instagram stories, despite having a following of well over 18 million. His apparent political inaction rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way, with many encouraging him to use his platform to advocate for displaced Palestinians. Does this mean he’s been booted down in the “Hollywood Chris” ratings?

Misunderstanding or not, it’s easy to understand why this is a frustrating situation for everyone involved. And yeah, if this doesn’t reemphasize the importance of fact-checking, I don’t know what will. In any case, this isn’t a good look for someone as politically engaged as Chris Evans, and it’ll be interesting to see if his statement is enough to quell his fans’ growing fury.


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Author
Amanda Landwehr
Amanda is a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer who lives and breathes Star Wars, Marvel, and all things pop culture. She has worked in digital media since 2021, covering the latest movie/TV releases, casting updates, fan theories, and so, so much more. When she's not rotting away behind her laptop screen, you can typically catch Amanda maxing out her AMC Stubs membership.