Kang No More

Where Does the MCU Go with Kang the Conquerer from Here?

Well, it happened. As many of us in the know expected, Johnathan Majors has been fired by Marvel. The actor had been slated to appear throughout the "Multiverse Saga" as Kang the conquerer, the villain to rival Thanos for this (currently ill-defined) set of Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Phases. But that all went off the rails when Majors was arrested on assault, strangulation and harassment charges, stemming from a domestic dispute (credit to Wikipedia for gathering the reporting on this). After that, Marvel played the wait and see game to find out if Majors was going to lose his trial. And he did, so they fired him.

First off, I'd like to note that I think this was the right thing to do. I'm sure Majors will have his defenders, as people Online will defend anything, for any reason. As I am not a Majors stan I have no clue how vocal, or how large, his fanbase is. He has had a string of hits over his career, from Da 5 Bloods to Creed III and the (now ironically titled) The Harder They Fall. Of course, the reason we're talking about him here is because of his role as all the various, multiversal variants of Kang. We've already seen three main versions in Loki: Season 1, Ant-man and Wasp: Quantumania, and Loki: Season 2. More were expected to start showing up regularly.

It's important to add that while I think Marvel did the right thing firing him, I (and many others Online) feel like they probably should have replaced him much earlier than this. He was found guilty on one count of reckless assault in the 3rd degree and a charge of harassment as a violation. While I am pretty solidly on board with "innocent until proven guilt" in the area of the courts, it is a bad look for Marvel (and Disney) to stand behind a credibly accused suspect for as long as they did. There's the courts, and then there's the court of public opinion, and waiting nine months to make any decision on this matter, even airing the second season of Loki in it while the trail was going on, gives Marvel a PR issue they could have easily avoided.

This isn't me wishing ill will on Majors's career long term. I think if he gets the help he needs to control his obvious anger, pays his fines, and learns the right lessons from this whole ordeal, then he deserves a second chance. In the future, of course. Time is what's needed now since I don't think any credibly accused, and then convicted, criminal should immediately be allowed to resume their life as if it's "no harm, no foul." That doesn't seem right. Him losing the role of Kang (and a few other roles as well) is the least that should have happened, for sure.

It does mean, however, that Marvel nos has to figure out what to do with the villain at the center of this big saga. There have been a couple of different avenues suggested and that's what I'd really like to discuss here. With Majors out Marvel needs to decide if they're even going to bother keeping Kang around at all or if they go in a different direction. I think each options has its own upside and downside but, frankly, Marvel is in a tough spot no matter what they do... and most of it is of their own design.

So let's start with the simplest solution: cast a new actor as Kang and continue onwards with all announced plans as if nothing is weird or different. A few different actors have been suggested for the role -- John Boyega, Will Smith, and even Chukwudi Iwuji (who played the High Evolutionary in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3). With Kang being a multiversal being in multiple forms, having him switch faces doesn't seem like something that even has to be addressed. And if they did decide to cast Iwuji in the role (which, note, is just fan theorizing right now) they could even say the High Evolutionary was another variant of Kang. It would be a simple, smooth transition.

The downside of simply recasting Kang is that, due to Marvel's lack of vision for the "Multiverse Saga", the villain hasn't really felt like a unifying element of the whole set of movies. Hell as we've argued more than once, Marvel has done a pretty awful job of getting this whole saga off the ground post-Thanos. Kang should have been a villain for the ages, but he feels like an afterthought in a saga without any focus. Whether they keep him around, or not, who really cares? Hell, who really cares that much about the MCU at this point?

The let's say they decide to put a different villain into the central role. Who should it be? The first name bandied about (apparently within Marvel) is Dr. Doom. The benefit of Doom is that, unlike Kang, most audience members don't need to told who Dr. Doom is. He's been around in comics since The Fantastic Four #5 in June 1962. He's basically the most famous, longest lasting villain in the Marvel stable. If anyone could get slotted in with minimal explanation simply by the fact that he's Dr. effing Doom. No one else Marvel has could work anywhere as well.

Hell, Loki established in its second season that (spoilers) Loki is not the God of Stories and is in control of the multiverse. He could simply, in a single scene, wipe Kang from the 'verse and we could all move on. That feels like an easy and effective way to do it that fits into current MCU continuity. Of course, it's also a cheat since Loki is supposed to be preserving everything and everyone in his new role... but hey, why let that stop us from retconning Kang away.

Of course, there are downsides here, too. For starters, the biggest "inside baseball" issue is that Marvel already announced there would be an Avengers: The Kang Dynasty film. That would have to be removed from the schedule and any work already done on the film would, presumably, be scrapped. Getting rid of Kang only matters to the production pipeline for that film if there were other Kang inserts and Kang plot lines already setup in upcoming films. Sure, any of those would need to be re-filmed anyway with a different actor in the role if they keep Kang around. But either way, this is something that the studio will have to work around. Some fans will care (even if others will shrug, that is if they even realized Marvel's plans for their films in the future).

With that said, slotting Doom also does a disservice to his character. Dr. Doom is a character closely tied to the Fantastic Four, and they haven't even been properly introduced. We have yet to have the First Family even put into an official movie on the docket (although Marvel has apparently been busy casting the characters). To slot Doom in for Kang would mean we get the Fantastic Four's most famous villain possibly before the heroes are even introduced. And, worse, it does feel like it tightens up Doom's entire storyline. Truncating it and making it less impressive than, frankly, Doom deserves.

And if they make him the big bad, does that mean they'd kill him at the end of the Saga? Kill Dr. Doom? I have my doubts. But then, would it even by the "Multiverse Saga" anymore? Without a multiversal villain while have a multiversal saga? It would feel like a desperate play to get some other villain in so they could pretend Kang was never a factor which... yeah, that's exactly what it would be. Desperation. This is frankly a terrible idea the more you think about it and, hopefully, Marvel realizes that.

Marvel is in a tough place. Their current plan doesn't work with audiences and fans. Their next best plan would ruin the best villain they have. And who knows if either option would turn the ship around. I don't envy Kevin Feige and his crew. They're behind a rock and a hard place with no easy solution to rely on. Lord only knows if they can even make this work at all.