It has been one month since Jonathan Majors was charged in relation to a domestic violence incident involving his now ex-girlfriend. In that time, his management company and publicist have dropped him (though he is still, at present, represented by the talent agency WME). The US Army also reconfigured a new ad campaign without Majors featuring as the narrator, and the baseball team the Texas Rangers also dropped him from an ad campaign. He’s also been dropped from a film adaptation of The Man in My Basement, and he’s out of consideration for an unannounced Otis Redding biopic. And he will not be attending the Met Gala, though he will be in New York a week after the Met Gala for his first court appearance on May 8. 


Also in the past month, Majors’ lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, released text messages she vows exonerate Majors. Content warning for this link, to quote an unnamed source who is supposed to work with Majors on a project, the texts read like a bad Lifetime movie. They basically look like the text messages of a textbook abused woman.” You can read a transcript of the texts here, but again, be kind to yourselves because it is upsetting. How does his lawyer explain how she lost consciousness? Like, walk me through that. I have other questions, chiefly how anyone thinks these texts are exonerating.

But, you know, TMZ is still out here carrying water for all the poor men beset by accusatory women. Majors’ ex was seen partying the same night as their alleged altercation, so she can’t be abused. Everyone knows abused women don’t go out, they just sit quietly in their rooms, wearing oversized sweatshirts and cupping mugs of steadily cooling tea while they stare disconsolately out the window. (Sarcasm font, I wish it was real.) On the other side of the coin, though, more women have come forward, at least to the Manhattan DA in charge of the case.


A lot has gone on with this story, with professional ramifications for Majors mounting, and the back-and-forth in the media about Majors’ ex-girlfriend and those text messages and what those other women might be saying to the DA. We’ll probably find out some of that during the May 8 court appearance. Until then, there are two threads in this story that are not going away—the frustration that Majors got a hero’s welcome in Hollywood and was quickly touted as the next big thing (and I am guilty of this), and the Marvel of it all, as everyone wonders what Marvel will do with Majors, as he supposed to be their next lynchpin villain, tying together the new MCU saga. These two things are not unrelated.

The frustration I feel keenly. I was excited when Majors came on the scene with The Last Black Man in San Francisco in 2019. He was obviously a major talent, he was great in films like Da 5 Bloods, Devotion, Creed III, and Magazine Dreams (which is still slated for a December Oscar run). And he was setting up his public persona as a Hot Dad, a thoughtful and charming Serious Actor. All of that has changed now, of course, but the question everyone keeps echoing is how he got so far, booking so many roles of increasing size and visibility, culminating in a reported $20 million deal for Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, without any red flags. Surely someone, Disney, at least, looked into the guy? Right? I mean, they looked into David Choe when their subsidiary, FX, was considering backing The Choe Show.


There is a key difference, though—David Choe’s reprehensible comments were on the record, as was his apology. If anyone at Disney or Marvel looked into Jonathan Majors before signing him as Kang the Conqueror, what would they have found? Cryptic subtweets from members of the New York City theater community. There was else nothing on record, hell, there wasn’t even a proper rumor. This is not like Scott Rudin, where his stapler-chucking habits were an open secret. Or Nate Parker, who, like Choe, had on-the-record allegations anyone could have found, and everyone ignored until the internet clamor became too loud. There wasn’t a red flag about Majors, not one anyone could actually use, anyway. Cryptic subtweets aren’t enough.

Which is not meant to blame victims or force survivors to speak before they’re ready. That’s not the solution AT ALL. But there isn’t an early warning system for bad men beyond the whisper network, and in this case, the whisper network just couldn’t keep up with how fast Majors ascended the Hollywood hierarchy. Maybe if he had a slower ascent, some of those New York rumors could have gained traction, turned into proper red flags someone could spot. But even with the pandemic slowing everything down for a couple years, it still wasn’t enough for anyone to get a handle on Majors beyond his public-facing persona. 


The next question is what Marvel does now, and the answer is “probably nothing”, at least in the short term. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty isn’t slated till 2025, they have some time to see what happens and find a way to extract themselves from their contract with Majors, if need be (he’s already filmed Loki season two). If you’re thinking it’s easy to break a contract like this, remember that morality clauses are notoriously hard to enforce, if they even exist in the first place—again, Marvel had no reason to insert one—and Marvel would need good grounds to fire him, like, say, a conviction (not a settlement). 

A wait and see approach isn’t just about potentially marshaling PR defenses to protect a valuable star, it’s also about seeing if a good enough legal excuse to drop Majors materializes. It has been discussed, just because they haven’t done it yet doesn’t mean it’s not on the table. It is, but again, they need reasonable cause, or for Majors to agree to a graceful exit (probably with a handsome compensation package). Either option takes time to work out.

Though more information has come out in the last month, the situation is basically unchanged, at least until that May 8 court date. There’s still not a bad man warning signal, and Disney-Marvel won’t do anything until their own legal exposure is covered. But if they do decide to keep Majors on as Kang, it will be fascinating to watch the excuses roll in. There wasn’t a tornado siren before, but there is now, and I don’t know how you can expect women to work with a man accused of violence. If nothing else changed post #MeToo, we’re at least supposed to be past the “grin and bear it” days of forcing women to work with reprehensible men.