Marvel has a problem – and his name is Kang

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Marvel Studios are in deep trouble with their future plans, which largely hinge on Jonathan Majors’ Kang. We have some thoughts… 

Ah, Marvel. The megastudio has been in the news almost daily for the past few years, thanks to an endless supply of casting news, but lately the coverage has taken on a much more negative tone. 

The big reason? The casting of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s major new foe, Kang. In particular actor Jonathan Majors, who has been in the headlines for very much the wrong reasons. It’s one decision, but far from the only one, facing Marvel’s top brass.

Here’s a quick recap on what’s been happening at Marvel. 

Jonathan Majors, who has appeared in Loki and Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania as Kang the Conqueror, is currently wrapped up in pretty severe legal troubles. His domestic abuse trial is scheduled to begin on 29 November and he faces up to a year in prison if found guilty, but Marvel has been pretty tight-lipped about his future in the MCU. That’s not stopped speculation about it, and whether the current plans for its stories still hold.

It’s hardly a secret after all that Kang has been poised as the next big bad, a Thanos-like threat to Marvel’s roster of superheroes. He’s pretty powerful too and when unleashed, he’s threatening the MCU with a full-blown multiversal war, which is a fancy way of saying there will be a lot of destruction and confusing time-related antics. 

The next major Avengers film is even titled Kang Dynasty. At least for now. 

We reported recently that not only has the film been delayed by a year, it’s also lost its director, Daniel Destin Cretton, who is now focusing on a Shang-Chi sequel instead. 

On top of that, Joanna Robinson, who has just co-written a very extensive book on the MCU, entitled MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, mentioned on her podcast that Marvel are “likely going to be moving away” from Kang as the big villain and that Jeff Loveness won’t be rewriting the script he was hired to write for Kang Dynasty, as he’s too “wrapped up” in the Kang stuff. 

Loveness has indeed departed Kang Dynasty, but Michael Waldron has since replaced him. Waldron is a Marvel regular, he penned the script for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness and serves as the executive producer and head writer for Loki. Waldron is also penning the script for Secret Wars. The first upcoming Avengers film still has its Kang-related title, but Marvel hasn’t commented on Majors’ employment status. IGN reports that Loveness has written a draft of the Kang Dynasty script, but at this point it’s unclear how, or if, it will be utilised.

Now, let’s be clear. Marvel has not announced any change of plans officially. Everything relating to Majors and Kang is pure speculation and that in itself is a huge issue. Marvel seems to be like a ship lost at sea and if there is a plan in place, it seems rather unclear from where we are standing.

Marvel’s refusal to comment on the situation feels a little iffy, personally, but still, legally its hands are likely to be tied. They’re likely waiting for Majors’ trial to conclude before making any official changes to their plans. At the point, it’s the matter of the public court and in their eyes, having someone like Majors be the focal point of the next chapter in the MCU is troubling.

Furthermore, the rumour mill is busy, and if you subscribe to the idea of no smoke without fire, then Marvel would appear to be planning for a future without Jonathan Majors on its payroll. Interestingly, Searchlight Pictures (which is owned by Disney) removed Magazine Dreams, Majors’ latest film which garnered an enthusiastic reception at Sundance Film Festival, from their slate completely.

Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.
Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror. Credit: Disney / Marvel Studios

Some reports also suggest that the second – sixth overall – Avengers film, Secret Wars, which is due to grace our screens in 2027, might now be split into two and Kang Dynasty scrapped altogether. This would make sense; Secret Wars is a pretty immense comic book storyline. Yet its villain, The Beyonder, is another Kang variant, so Majors’ involvement might still prove to be an issue. 

But let’s be real here. Marvel could, if they wanted to, just recast the role. After all, Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard as Rhodey and Gemma Chan has played two different characters in the MCU already. This is a cinematic universe where people have magical hammers, can fly and occasionally turn green from sheer anger. Kang variants looking different is very plausible, thank you very much. 

Bring in another magnetic actor, such as Aldis Hodge, who already proved electric in the otherwise limp and disappointing Black Adam or perhaps John David Washington? After Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, people also suggested Chukwudi Iwuji for the part. Again, this is a cinematic universe where we just accept that Kurt Russell is a living planet and the biological father of Chris Pratt, we can tolerate seeing the same actor twice in films that have years in between them. 

Another way out of this mess is by replacing Kang with a completely new threat. 

Pedro Pascal is reportedly circling the role of Reed Richards in Marvel’s new Fantastic Four film. While that film is still a long, long time away and we know very little about it, Doctor Doom seems like a pretty powerful foe for a still-undecided group of superheroes unironically calling themselves The Avengers. 

Regardless of whether Marvel is looking to recast the part, stay on course or look for a new big bad, this has to come to a resolution soon. It’s little secret that the universe of films and TV shows isn’t going through its most successful era.
Furthermore, right now, the MCU seems more confusing than ever. Kang remains the elephant in the room. Majors is clearly an actor with real presence – just look at Creed III – but until his future is resolved, it does look as though Marvel is in a little bit of limbo. And the most assured film studio in town is now looking, well, not quite that…

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