Even if you have been keeping your head buried under a pillow, hoping for Marvel to sort its issues, you can’t escape the chaos that has been Jonathan Majors’ exit from the MCU following his conviction. And I know what the studio will do next, but it chances of it landing are slim.
First, let me clarify this — it is too late for Marvel to roll back the Kang train. Even if rumors of Avengers: Kang Dynasty reverting to Avengers 5 are out there, the studio is not going to un-weave Phase 4, half of Phase Five, and dismantle their plans for Phase Six. Unlike the last few phases, Marvel made the mistake of establishing its future on its villain, making Kang the face of its future. Almost every storyline is expected to eventually culminate in bringing down this big bad.
That brings us to what we know Marvel will probably do — recast Kang the Conqueror. And how will they do it? At this point, the studio is very aware of the countless eyes on it and it would like to stick to that already staggering amount of calculating opinions. Also, we have seen how they handled Majors’ assault case up until his conviction — not promoting him much, but also not picking any sides or cutting him out of projects, and dropping him with the same quietness the second the fate of his trial was decided.
So, after Marvel picks its actor to replace Majors, be ready to see a new face as a Kang variant without any complicated in-universe demonstration to explain the change — just like Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore did.
The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard controversy was at its peak at the time, and Warner Bros. wanted to keep its distance, so while they couldn’t hide when they picked the exceptional Mads Mikkelsen to pick up Grindelwald’s wand, the studio opted not to clarify the dark wizard’s new face with some magical gibberish. It was the new truth. Full stop.
But even the magnanimous presence of Mads did the film little good. It still had its Ezra Miller scandal to solve and though his presence was largely diminished, he was still very much a part of the film. Now, Marvel doesn’t have a double trouble situation going on, but even though the MCU doesn’t have side-Miller controversy to tackle, recasting Kang — even with someone like the impressive Giancarlo Esposito — might fall flat.
As I keep pointing out — at the risk of never getting invited to the Marvel studios — MCU’s way of bringing Kang and his variants to life has either been bland or very directionless (or sometimes both). How the audience would perceive the Conqueror was doomed long before Majors’ life behind the camera created problems for the character. But as I (and every shrewd-eyed Marvel fan has) deduced above, Marvel has over-committed to its poorly presented villain and they have to go along for the ride, no matter how bumpy it is.
Also, while Marvel might not have an immediate Miller situation, it has similar problems, with the sexual assault allegations against Tenoch Huerta (Namor in Black Panther 2) and upcoming Thunderbolts star Steven Yeun supporting David Choe post his disturbing rape comments still fresh in the collective cultural memory. And as usual, Marvel has not addressed either, forgetting that in this era of social media blesses everyone with an eidetic memory — something which is only unearthing more concerning revelations about other MCU actors.