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The Chris Pratt Pipeline: How the ‘Super Mario’ star went from comedic relief to action hero

The path to the Hollywood A-list winds from "Parks & Rec" to "Guardians of the Galaxy" to "Jurassic World" to "The Lego Movie" to the new Nintendo-based blockbuster.

(Photos: Everett Collection)
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The Super Mario Bros. Movie made its streaming premiere on Peacock this week. The nostalgic video game adaptation raked in more than $1 billion at the box office, boasts the biggest worldwide opening weekend for an animated film and is the highest-grossing film based on a video game. But the movie wasn’t always presumed to be the smash hit that it is today. When the first trailer dropped back in 2022, fans began voicing their upset over the choice to cast Chris Pratt as beloved Italian plumber Mario.

Between the Guardians of the Galaxy actor’s highly scrutinized vocal performance in the animated film and other past controversies including criticisms of his religious affiliations, alleged political beliefs and social media presence, the once-adored Parks & Recreation actor’s reputation has certainly taken a plunge in the eyes of some fans over the past decade, with some of the internet even dubbing him the “worst Hollywood Chris” back in 2020.

So what happened to the formerly beloved Burt Macklin actor? TikTok user and comedian @Superkeara has a theory: He’s fallen down the “Chris Pratt Pipeline."

The Chris Pratt Pipeline, or CPP, as Keara Sullivan explains in her video, is when a lovable comedic actor blows up in popularity, steps into the Hollywood limelight as a star in more serious dramatic or action/superhero roles, and then experiences a significant loss of public support.

Is there any truth to this theory? We took a look back at Chris Pratt’s career, and his journey from hilarious goofball to action hero. Here’s the Chris Pratt Pipeline explained through Chris Pratt’s most popular movies and shows:

Where to watch all of Chris Pratt's shows and movies

Need a refresher on Chris Pratt's career? Here's where to watch the actor's shows and movies.

Parks and Recreation (2009-15)

After starting off in Cursed Part 3 and playing minor roles in projects like Everwood and The O.C., Pratt broke through as the sometimes-sweet, always-simple Andy Dwyer, who was supposed to be in only the first six episodes but charmed his way into all seven seasons of the NBC series. Over the course of six years, Pratt evolved Dwyer from a dummy with a dad bod to a total himbo, as he transitioned from comedic roles to an action star and superhero.

Bride Wars (2009)

Chris Pratt plays Anne Hathaway’s dismissive fiancé in this 2009 romantic comedy. Kate Hudson also stars.

Moneyball (2011)

Pratt plays a minor part as a major league baseball player in this 2011 sports drama, starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

Pratt plays the typical funny, perhaps too raunchy best pal in this popular 2012 rom-com starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

After playing the funny, simple best friend — and occasional baseball player — Pratt steps into the now-familiar role of action hero for the very first time in Zero Dark Thirty. Starring Jessica Chastain, this action thriller tells the story of the years-long international manhunt for Osama bin Laden.

The Lego Movie (2014)

First a military hero, then an… animated construction worker? Pratt marries his comedy skills and heroic ambitions as the accidental hero in The Lego Movie, which boasts a star-studded vocal cast including Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Nick Offerman.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Pratt made his action hero status official when he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the rugged space bandit Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, starring opposite Zoë Saldaña and Dave Bautista.

Jurassic World (2015)

In 2015, Pratt joined another iconic franchise as a rugged hero — this time somewhere a little more tropical. Pratt plays Owen Grady, a cowboy-esque raptor trainer in Jurassic World opposite Bryce Dallas Howard.

Passengers (2016)

Pratt stars opposite Jennifer Lawrence in this complex sci-fi romance about two unfortunate passengers on an intergalactic journey.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Pratt returns as Peter Quill for his second go-round in the MCU. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also stars Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Kurt Russell.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers, assemble! Pratt’s Peter Quill and the rest of the guardians team up with Earth’s biggest heroes in this Marvel blockbuster.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Rebellious raptor handler Owen Grady (and his iconic training pose) return for Round 2 in the second chapter of the Jurassic World franchise.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

Pratt loves a sequel, so of course he’s back in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, this time facing aliens.

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    Stream The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Pratt makes a brief appearance as Quill in the massive ensemble cast of Avengers: Endgame.

Onward (2020)

It’s an MCU reunion (sort of)! Pratt co-stars with Spider-Man actor Tom Holland in Pixar's heartfelt animated family adventure comedy set in a fantasy world.

The Tomorrow War (2021)

Pratt returns to his familiar military roots as a former special forces officer fighting a brutal war taking place in 2051 in The Tomorrow War. Yvonne Strahovski and J.K. Simmons co-star.

The Terminal List (2022-)

Pratt stars as a Navy SEAL who seeks to avenge the murder of his family in this action thriller. The quasi-controversial series co-stars Constance Wu, Taylor Kitsch, Riley Keough, Arlo Mertz and Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Jurassic World Dominion (2022)

Pratt’s Owen Grady finally meets his elders in the epic finale of the Jurassic World trilogy, which sees the turn of Jurassic Park trio Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum.

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

The Guardians of the Galaxy take Thor in for a while after the shock of Avengers: Endgame, leading to Chris Pratt’s charming cameo in Thor: Love and Thunder.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Peter Quill is back for his motley band's final intergalactic ride in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

It’s-a-him, Chris Pratt Mario! Despite getting repeatedly memed after the release of the first trailer, Chris Pratt’s Super Mario movie was a massive success (and finally out on streaming as of today). Pratt’s portrayal of the goofy, lovable plumber begs the question, now that his time in the MCU and Jurassic World is done, what will Hollywood’s current least favorite Chris do next? Will he return to his roots as a loveable goof or stick to his guns (literally) and continue on the action-focused path?