In case you missed the news yesterday (December 18), Jonathan Majors has been fired by Marvel after he was found guilty of assault and harassment. It’s the end of a long, drawn-out saga that found Marvel one of the sole holdouts on continuing to work with Majors after his arrest this past March. But if one thing is clear by Majors’ ouster, it’s this: it’s time to scrap the Multiverse Saga.
To be clear, Jonathan Majors was not so iconic in the role of Kang the Conqueror, or his various variants, that you couldn’t shift another actor into the role. In fact, that’s probably the easiest solution from the direction of Marvel Studios. They’ve already shown a willingness to recast for a variety of reasons. Terrence Howard was switched for Don Cheadle, the late William Hurt recast with Harrison Ford. And they’ve also already shown thanks to Spider-Man: No Way Home, Loki, and other shows and movies that have dealt with the multiverse that the same “character” can look entirely different in multiple universes. If Marvel wants to continue to barrel forward with their Multiverse Saga, they could easily drop Jonathan Majors and throw in another talented actor without missing a beat.
But they shouldn’t.
Instead, this is the perfect opportunity to cut ties with Kang, the Multiverse, all of it. Marvel was already in a dicey space thanks to flagging box office receipts, and waning interest… Not to mention behind-the-scenes drama involving VFX, actors griping, and a seeming loss of direction. Add in a general pressure on parent company Disney to start delivering given one of its worst years in recent history, and Marvel can look at a total change in direction as an opportunity, not a detriment.
Kang Isn’t Working As An MCU Villain
Kang, regardless of the actor behind him, is just not working as an overall villain. It’s not even down to Majors’s performance… He’s now been beaten or killed multiple times in multiple movies or shows. Contrast that with Thanos, who sent his lieutenants to do his dirty work while he floated on his dinky space chair. But when it was time to enter fully into the action in Avengers: Infinity War, he was an all-encompassing threat that beat The Avengers and won. Add in that whatever you think about Thanos’s philosophy, he had a clear goal. Kang wants to… Conquer? Maybe? So far, after appearances in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and two seasons of Loki, it’s not entirely clear who Kang is, or what he wants… Other than there are a lot of him. And some are doing extremely off-putting accents.
There’s also the multiverse to think about, a concept that — mostly — the movie-going audience has rejected as too complicated. And it is complicated unless you take character and emotion and push it to the forefront. Everything Everywhere All At Once worked because it was about a mother and a daughter. The Spider-Verse animated movies work because they’re about Miles Morales’s journey, and in the second movie Gwen Stacey. So far, Marvel hasn’t used the Multiverse as an opportunity to explore characters, it’s been a tool for spectacle. That’s something Marvel could pivot from, but I would argue the audience has been too burnt at this point to care.
Add in that nearly every use of the multiverse in Marvel so far — Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Loki, No Way Home, What If…?, Quantumania — has seemingly contradicted the mythology of the movie or TV show that came before, and it’s pretty clear the MCU multiverse is a lost cause of confusing ideology and goals.
The MCU Needs A Change Of Direction
Sure Marvel could continue to go full steam ahead with the planned Avengers: Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. They could switch Kang for another big villain, like the oft-suggested Doctor Doom, or my oft-suggested Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Alternately, they could use the trifecta of The Marvels‘s box office implosion, the ouster of Jonathan Majors and all the bad press Marvel is garnering for waiting until the absolute last second, and a clear confusion behind-the-scenes of where the MCU is going to stop, reflect, and change direction entirely.
It won’t happen, mind you. These things are machines with a gravity of their own, so the more likely scenario is that Marvel recasts Kang, and fast-tracks the next Avengers film. But that’s putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. The MCU needs to reassess its overall direction if it wants to make it past its twentieth anniversary in 2028. Despite the public souring on superhero movies as a whole, there’s still time to change direction and fix what’s broken. Parting ways with Majors is the perfect opportunity to do so.
But more likely, like Kang, they’ll think they can keep on conquering. Instead, they’ll be beaten down every time.