Marvel drops actor Jonathan Majors after assault conviction

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Jonathan Major stars as Kang in Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

Disney

Jonathan Majors is out at Marvel after his misdemeanor assault and harassment conviction Monday, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC.

The actor, who was set to be a major chess piece in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, was found guilty in connection with a March 25 incident that erupted between Majors and his ex-girlfriend. He faces up to one year in jail. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 6.

A lawyer for Majors didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The Marvel franchise is in a state of flux right now, with audience goodwill dwindling with each new entrant. Post “Avengers: Endgame” the studio has struggled with consistency of quality and box office returns. CEO Bob Iger has been publicly critical of the studio, saying on several occasions that Disney needs to be more selective about which Marvel superheroes get sequel films and when to bring in fresh stories.

Disney’s stock, meanwhile, is up nearly 7% this year, although it significantly trails the gains of the S&P 500 index.

The Majors firing adds to Disney’s strain. While the actor most recently appeared in the Marvel’s second season of “Loki,” the studio had previously not commented on his future with the brand.

Following the incident, but prior to his conviction, Majors was dropped from several marketing campaigns as well as by his talent agency. Disney previously pulled his film “Magazine Dreams,” once considered an Oscar contender, was also pulled from the calendar.

Majors’ character in the MCU was supposed to be the next big villain of the franchise. Already, he’s portrayed several variations of Kang, a time-traveling baddie bent on conquering the multiverse, since 2021.

In the same way that Josh Brolin’s Thanos was the over-arching antagonist of the first decade of Marvel’s theatrical storytelling, Major’s Kang was established to be the next, culminating in another Avengers team-up movie in 2026 called “The Kang Dynasty.”

With Majors’ conviction, Disney now has to make a choice: recast the role of Kang or completely alter its plans for the MCU.

And Disney will need to make this choice quickly.

Marvel in a slump

The Marvel franchise, overseen by producer and executive Kevin Feige, has previously recovered from a string of lackluster films and has a deep well of stories and characters to pull from. Its box office track record is unrivaled. In just 15 years, this franchise has released 33 films and generated nearly $30 billion in global box office.

Not to mention, Marvel has its own theme park lands at Disneyland in California and in Shanghai, and is one of the top-selling properties in the retail market right now.

However, in Disney’s exuberance to pad its fledgling streaming service Disney+ during the Covid pandemic, it saturated the market with hit-or-miss television series. It introduced dozens of new heroes and villains, fundamentally altering the universe in which previous films had been set. For many casual fans, the inundation of content began to feel more like homework than entertainment.

Disney shells out north of $200 million for each of its film and television productions, making it vitally important that moviegoers see these flicks in theaters and Disney+ subscribers watch them.

Marvel has recast roles within the MCU before. Don Cheadle took over as James Rhodes from Terrence Howard after the first “Iron Man” film, Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, and Harrison Ford is taking over for the late William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross in the upcoming “Thunderbolts.”

Additionally, Kathryn Newton became Cassie Lang in “Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania,” replacing Emma Fuhrman from “Avengers: Endgame.” And the character of Fandral from “Thor” transitioned from Josh Dallas to Zachary Levi in “Thor: The Dark World.”

Sumber: www.cnbc.com

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