Marvel's Kang The Conqueror
In what has turned out to be a shocking turn of events, up-and-coming actor Jonathan Majors, renowned for his portrayal of the multiversal time-travelling villain Kang the Conqueror in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been unceremoniously dropped by Marvel Studios. This jaw-dropping revelation unfolds against a backdrop of legal drama, as Majors stands guilty of assault charges related to a disturbing episode with his former girlfriend. The burning question on everyone's mind: What really transpired?
Majors' journey into the entertainment industry began in 2017 with roles in the revisionist Western film Hostiles and the groundbreaking docudrama When We Rise, where he portrayed real-life gay activist Ken Jones. His stardom only continued to rise, resulting in a breakthrough role as Atticus Sampton in the 2020 series Lovecraft Country.
Fast forwarding back to 2019, little did Majors know that the peak of his career was yet to come. After the glowing reviews of his 2019 award-winning film, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, where he portrayed Mont Allen, the best friend of the film’s star Jimmie Fails. There Majors caught the eye of a top-dog Hollywood producer. That producer was Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios.
Majors made his multiversal entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2021, where he was cast as the calm, but terrifying ‘He Who Remains’ variant of Kang the Conqueror in the first season of Loki. One could argue that this catapulted him into the echelons of stardom.
The actor carried this momentum into the 2023 film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, reprising his role as yet another Kang the Conqueror variant- this one much more overtly sinister and power hungry. Despite the film's lukewarm reception and lacklustre performance at the box office, Majors' magnetic performance garnered critical acclaim. Critics hailed him as the "saving grace" of Marvel's enigmatic venture, with The Hollywood Reporter noting that audiences were "on edge every moment he's onscreen." Time Out tantalisingly teased, "There's a lot more Majors to come in future Marvel films."
The apex of his success reached its zenith with Creed III, where Majors embodied Damian “Diamond Dame” Anderson, the former childhood friend-turned boxing rival to Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed, solidifying his reputation as a rising star in Hollywood. Awards showered upon him, including the New Generation Award in 2019 from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and three more in 2021 for various projects. The world seemed to be at his feet.
However, this rapid rise came crashing down on March 23, 2023, when Majors was arrested in New York City on charges of assault and harassment against his then-girlfriend, British dancer Grace Jabbari. The NYPD reported that Jabbari had sustained minor injuries, which included a fractured finger, a cut behind her ear, and bruising after an altercation between the couple in a taxi over Majors’ phone. This cast a dark cloud over Majors' once-promising career. Naturally, his spokesperson vehemently denied all allegations, but the wheels of justice and the court of public opinion had already been set in motion. In the aftermath, Majors faced a swift and severe backlash. Stripped of prestigious projects, including recruitment advertisements by the United States Army and a role in the upcoming Walter Mosley film The Man in my Basement, Majors' fall from grace was rapid and dramatic. Even his coveted invitation to the 2023 Met Gala was rescinded, and he was unceremoniously ousted from a Texas Rangers ad campaign.
During all this drama, the looming question hung in the air- would Marvel sever ties with their central MCU villain, Kang the Conqueror? The stakes were colossal, and the anticipation palpable. From the outside looking in, it seemed that Marvel was being cautious before making any final decisions; watching and seeing what happens was their strategy.
Cut to December 18, 2023, Majors was found guilty of two of the four charges brought against him, which included one count of reckless assault in the 3rd degree and a charge of harassment as a violation, which held him liable for the fracture of Jabbari’s finger during an altercation when she grabbed his mobile phone. He was acquitted of the other two more serious charges, including one of assault and the other of aggravated harassment. Not long after this shocking verdict, Marvel officially severed their association with the fallen star, ushering in a seismic shift in his life and career. The reverberations of justice have echoed throughout Hollywood. Jonathan Majors, once the rising supernova, now faces the harsh reality of a potential year in prison as his sentencing looms in February 2024.
Majors was set to star in several upcoming Marvel projects, including the self-titled upcoming film Avengers: The Kang Dynasty as well as its sequel, Avengers: Secret Wars. Some sources such as The Hollywood Reporter even suggest that The Kang Dynasty might now be rewritten and renamed. As the spotlight shifts, one can't help but wonder: Is this the end of Majors’ once promising Hollywood career, especially as Hollywood for can be so unforgiving for people of colour or will it be a transformative chapter that adds an alternative complexity to the life journey of Jonathan Majors
Only time will unveil the answers to these diverging and lingering questions.
Written by: Rebekah Segun
Jonathan Majors in Creed III