What happens to the MCU with Jonathan Majors fired by Disney?

Following his conviction on assault charges, Disney has severed ties with Jonathan Majors! What does this mean for Kang and the MCU itself?
Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conqueror in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.
Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conqueror in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL. /

In a not-surprising but still stunning move, Disney/Marvel has cut ties with actor Jonathan Majors following his recent conviction on assault charges. What does this mean for the MCU going forward?

It's still astounding to see just how far and fast Jonathan Majors fell from grace. At this time last year, he looked to be on the verge of true mega-stardom. He had a prime role in Creed III, and his drama Magazine Dreams was gaining big Oscar buzz. Biggest of all, Majors was going to play Kang, the time-traveling despot in Phase 5 of the MCU, set to culminate in the epic Avengers: Kang Dynasty in 2026. 

Then, just after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opened, Majors was arrested on charges of assaulting his girlfriend. The controversy was huge even as Majors was still featured as a variant of Kang in the second season of Loki

Now, with Majors having been convicted of assault and harassment charges, Disney has officially released him from his contract. This means they now face the nightmare scenario for a big-time studio: What happens when the guy you've built a multi-movie story arc around is not only not available but tarnished the entire franchise?

Can they recast Kang?

The obvious option, of course, is to simply recast Kang. There are plenty of talented actors who can take on the role and Marvel has done this before (see Don Cheadle taking over as Jim Rhodes from Terrance Howard and Harrison Ford will be playing Thunderbolt Ross after the passing of William Hurt). The fact that the multiverse can have different versions of Kang can help. 

True, the last scene of Quantumania showed thousands of Kangs who all looked like Majors, but Loki played on the timeline changing, so it's possible some shifts can be hand-waved as Kang changing his face. 

There is a complication, as rumors are Majors had it written into his contract that Kang wouldn't be recast. However, with said contract openly terminated (no doubt under a morals clause), this could be a moot point anyway.

Marvel has invested so much time and planning already in Kang and a long-range plan for him, so to upend it like this may be a bit much. Then again, they may not have a choice…

Marvel looks to be moving on from Kang

When the announcement was made of Majors' dismissal, it was accompanied by how the Kang Dynasty movie was simply named Avengers 5. This follows the finale of Loki Season 2, which appeared to shift to almost eliminate the Kang character completely. This indicates Marvel is looking to move on from Kang altogether, which is likely to be the best move. 

The brutal truth is the Kang character just wasn't working. A time-traveling conqueror out to rule the multiverse should be a no-brainer, but Marvel's moves failed to make Kang a compelling threat. In fact, he's killed off by Ant-Man and while it's hinted there are more powerful versions of him out there (like Immortus or Rama-Tut), it's harder to take him as a huge threat when one version of him was dispatched by one of the lower-ranked heroes. 

Marvel seemed to hint at a bigger multiverse out there with the potential of the X-Men being used as well as the various Spider-Men. Yet Marvel didn't seem to put as much care into Kang as they did with Thanos, and they may be realizing a course correction is needed.

That's added onto by the other issues with Marvel with The Marvels flopping and growing complaints the franchise is becoming too convoluted for casual viewers to follow. If anything, the SAG strikes putting off production may have been a blessing in disguise, as Marvel is putting off most of its slate until 2025, so they have a chance to build something new. 

The most popular theory is that Marvel moves from Kang to the villain fans have long wanted, Doctor Doom. They could fast-track the planned Fantastic Four movie to build up Doom, always a far more compelling villain, and maybe even throw in the cosmic Galactus as a greater threat. They can still use the multiverse plan for the Secret Wars film, just have Doom in the villain role. 

Marvel had made changes like this before, as Agents of SHIELD was to build to a planned Inhumans movie, only for Marvel to back away from that. Granted, trying to alter a planned multi-movie arc is no easy task, but it's better than sticking to a plan involving an actor who's now persona non grata in Hollywood. 

Majors' conviction and firing is the cherry on top of a rough year for the MCU. Yet maybe, just maybe, it can be a blessing in disguise. It can give the MCU a chance to reconfigure their plans for a better film, to win back the fans and get back to the spirit that made the franchise so fun. Yet it also shows how banking a franchise on one person can backfire big time on filmmakers, and the old "eggs in one basket" line still holds true.