I think everyone can safely say that much of phases 4 and 5 of the MCU, which is everything post-Infinity War, has not quite had the same spark as the “golden era” of the franchise. Sure, there are exceptions here and there, but rarely is there a singular character who’s an exception.
And the more time goes on (no pun intended) the more it feels like Jonathan Majors’ Kang is better than the storyline the MCU appears to have laid out for him so far.
In last night’s Loki, we finally got the realization of the post-credits teaser from Ant-Man, where Loki, Mobius, Renslayer and Miss Minutes all travel to the 19th century to try and abduct Victor Timely, a variant of Kang who forms the TVA in the first place, set on that path by…himself, as he instructs Renslayer to give him the TVA handbook as a boy, setting him on that path. Time travel shenanigans!
I have not enjoyed most of what the MCU has tried to do with the multiverse. Sure, it was fun to see all the Spider-Men, but as an actual storyline, it has fallen flat. Even Loki itself demonstrated this last week when we were supposed to weep for trillions of people “dying” in bombed branched timelines that didn’t exist two episodes prior, and now those branches are “growing back” anyway.
However, while the multiverse does not work, Jonathan Majors’ Kang is outpacing the actual content of Phase 5 in every way. We’ve now seen three versions of the villain, the bemused, quirky He Who Remains at the end of Loki season 1. The power-hungry destroyer in Quantumania. And now Victor Timely, the con artist from the 1900s who may be the most consequential of all. All three are wildly different performances from Majors, and each memorable and powerful in their own way. I think everyone can agree he stole the show at the end of Loki, he was the only good thing about Quantumania and now, that his Victor Timely performance was excellent. While the multiverse’s quality is wobblily, Kang himself is not.
Of course, the stormcloud over all of this is that Majors himself has proven to be a problem. He has been credibly accused of domestic violence, even as the woman appeared to “recant” the allegations, according to Majors’ lawyer. But Majors has been accused of more than one instance of abuse and assault, and alleged victims have come forward to work with the New York District Attorney’s Office.
Majors was dropped from everything from Army recruitment ads to a starring role in a novel adaptation to his own management company. One thing he was notably not dropped from was his role as Kang. Disney appears to be waiting out whether or not Majors faces legal repercussions from the investigation, or whether fan outcry is enough where it overwhelms the narrative around his role. They have invested most of Phase 5 in building up Kang to star in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, but that still has the potential to go up in flames because of Majors himself, even if he is the one turning in these great performances.
You can say “separate the artist from the art” all you want, but if these allegations are true, that’s incredible hard to do, and may actually be impossible if Majors is in, you know, jail, when he’s supposed to be filming as Kang. Disney is walking a fine line here and hedging their bets.
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