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Jonathan Majors’ Marvel ouster throws Disney’s plans into disarray

NEW YORK (AP) — Marvel had more riding on Jonathan Majors than perhaps any other actor. Now it’s parting ways with him, and throwing years of plans for its cinematic universe in disarray.

Marvel Studios and the Walt Disney Co dropped Majors from all future projects following the actor’s conviction for assault and harassment on Monday, according to a person close to the studio who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to speak publicly on the matter.

The swift move by Disney marked a stunning about-face for an actor who had been one of Hollywood’s fastest-rising stars. A Manhattan jury on Monday found the 34-year-old Majors guilty of one misdemeanour assault charge and one harassment violation for a March altercation with his then-girlfriend Grace Jabbari.

Majors, who was acquitted of a different assault charge and of aggravated harassment, will be sentenced on February 6. He declined to comment as he left the courthouse. Majors’ attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement that “it is clear that the jury did not believe Grace Jabbari’s story of what happened in the SUV because they found that Mr Majors did not intentionally cause any injuries to her.”

“Mr Majors still has faith in the process and looks forward to fully clearing his name,” said Chaudhry.

As the superhero studio prepared phase five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it cast the highly acclaimed Majors as the antagonist Kang the Conqueror. The character was to span several films and series as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next-phase answer to Thanos, the villain of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Majors had already appeared in ” Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and the first two seasons of “Loki.” He was to star in “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty,” dated for release in May 2026.

The future of “The Kang Dynasty” is now unclear. Disney declined to comment on whether it will recast the role of Kang or pivot in a new direction.

The studio has been preparing for the possibility of Majors’ exit from the franchise. But Marvel was limited in its ability to fashion rewrites due to the screenwriters strike that ran from May to late September. The studio recently hired screenwriter Michael Waldron to rework “The Kang Dynasty.”

For Marvel, Majors’ departure adds to a series of recent setbacks. Though its box-office success — nearly USD30 billion worldwide from 33 films — is unsurpassed in movie history, the superhero factory has recently seen some atypical struggles. “The Marvels,” released in November, has been the MCU’s worst performer in theatres, with USD204 million in worldwide ticket sales.

Majors also recently starred as a troubled amateur bodybuilder in “Magazine Dreams,” which made an acclaimed debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was acquired by the Disney-owned indie distributor Searchlight Pictures. Following its premiere, an Oscar nomination for Majors was widely predicted.

“Magazine Dreams” had been dated to open in theatres in December 8. But ahead of Majors’ trial, Searchlight removed the film from its release calendar. Instead, on December 8 text messages from Majors were read in the fifth day of the trial. In one, Majors begged Jabbari not to seek medical attention for a head injury sustained in 2022, warning she had “no perspective of what could happen” if the truth got out.

In late February as “Creed III,” starring Majors alongside Michael B Jordan, was being released, Majors spoke in an interview with The Associated Press in the neighbourhood of Chelsea, just a few blocks away from where his fight with Jabbari would weeks later spill out onto New York streets.

Majors then sounded acutely aware that his rapid new fame carried the risk of a downfall.

“Though I’ve not seen the boogeyman, I know it’s out there,” Majors said. “And I’ve been around to know it’s comin’. I won’t go down my rabbit hole of death, but it’s comin’. But you outrun it. You just stay out of the frame. I’ll stay out of the frame.”

Jonathan Majors (third from left) leaves a courtroom in New York, Monday. PHOTO: AP
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