Robert Downey Jr. defended his Avengers: Endgame co-star Chris Pratt, who came under fire this week for attending Hillsong Church, which has faced allegations of holding anti-LGBTQ views. While a majority of the Instagram comments on Downey's post were substantive arguments for and against his support for Pratt, a few accused him of photoshopping the picture to erase co-star Tom Holland. The photo was taken during the production of Avengers: Infinity War and was similar to another photo of Holland standing between Pratt and Downey.
"What a world... The 'sinless' are casting stones at my [brother], Chris Pratt... A real [Christian] who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but [positivity] and [gratitude]... AND he just married into a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value," Downey wrote. "If you take issue with Chris... I’ve got a novel idea. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of [character], work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness... [Pratt] I [got yer back back back]."
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Downey's picture showed Pratt in his Star-Lord costume and himself in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, since Downey's Iron Man costume is added in later by animators. Some fans accused Downey's team of editing the picture to take Holland, who plays Spider-Man, out of the picture. They pointed to other photos and videos from the Infinity War set that show Holland standing between them. Holland himself shared a photo in February 2017 that showed the three together. While it is entirely possible that Downey's team just shared a never-before-seen photo of the actor with Pratt, it did not stop fans from speculating that the image had digital artifacts hinting at editing.
RDJ’s team photoshopping Tom Holland out of this photo to do damage control for Chris Pratt bc they had no other photos of the two of them together is so.....funny cjcnfjcnkdnckcmckcmcm pic.twitter.com/PRo1FoDJxP— eat hot chip and die (@sheherzog) October 22, 2020
During the week, a Twitter meme asking people to pick one Chris to eliminate — Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans or Chris Pine — went viral. Many Twitter users picked Pratt, pointing to him being a member of Hillsong Church. This prompted Pratt's co-stars and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, to come to his defense. "Is this really what we need?" Schwarzenegger asked on Instagram, adding that there is "so much going on in the world and people are struggling in so many ways" and "being mean is so yesterday." The author added, "There's enough room to love all these guys. Love is what we all need not meanness and bullying. Let's try that."
Back in February 2019, the last time Pratt's membership of Hillsong Church came under scrutiny, Pratt issued a long statement on Instagram defending the church and insisting they have their doors open to "absolutely everyone." He said the allegations of being anti-LGBTQ were not true and they were supportive of his divorce from Anna Faris. "We need less hate in this world, not more," Pratt wrote at the time. "I am a man who believes that everyone is entitled to love who they want free from the judgment of their fellow man."