Earlier this week, Jonathan Majors was found guilty on two counts stemming from his domestic violence arrest in March, one of reckless assault in the third degree, and one of harassment, both are misdemeanors. Majors is set to be sentenced in February and could face up to one year in prison. Hopefully this is a moment of closure for his ex-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, who gets a rare win for domestic abuse survivors in court.
Of course, the question remains whether or not Majors will actually be sentenced to jail, and if he is, how much time he would actually serve, and what happens next to his career, once one of the brightest and fastest rising in Hollywood. The courts are going to do what the courts are going to do, but Hollywood isn’t based on case precedence. Every instance is a new test.
Hours after the verdict, Marvel officially fired Majors, dropping him as Kang the Conqueror in upcoming films. People didn’t seem particularly enamored of the character, and many, including myself, thought Marvel should just part ways regardless of the trial outcome, as the Kang stuff didn’t seem to be gelling and probably no one would miss Majors, anyway. Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is reportedly now simply Avengers 5, and Loki creator Michael Waldron was brought on to rewrite the script following director Destin Daniel Cretton’s departure from the project. It’s unclear if Marvel simply intends to recast Kang—John Boyega and John David Washington were trending on Twitter after Majors’ firing—or if they’re going in a new direction. (They should just do something else.)
Beyond Marvel, Majors still has Magazine Dreams, his would-be Oscar feature, floating in the ether. It is currently owned by Searchlight, a division of 20th Century/Disney, but it’s likely they’ll sell it off to a distributor willing to roll the dice and hope the controversy equals free marketing. I mean, I got a press release for Kevin Spacey’s comeback film yesterday, there’s always someone willing to try and spin bad press into positivity. As of this writing, Majors also still has representation via WME, even though his management company dumped him just weeks after his arrest.
Plenty of problematic white men, even ones with court cases behind them, have rebuilt their careers. The best case study is probably Emile Hirsch, who served fifteen days in jail in 2015 after pleading guilty to assaulting a female executive at Sundance. Eight years later, Hirsch is back at work, with four films out this year, six last year, and three currently in post-production. Of course, none of it is very distinguished work, but it is work. People are paying Emile Hirsch to act in films.
So there is a road back for Majors, though it’s unlikely he’ll ever ascend as high as he had before his arrest, when he was poised to be the next big thing. But we’ll have to see what kind of double standard applies, if Majors gets the same second chance as Hirsch. I’m not saying he should get that chance—or that Hirsch should have—but let’s not pretend the situation is the same for a convicted white man as it is for a convicted black man.
I’ve been thinking about this all year, since Majors’ arrest and what red flags we missed about him. New York actors subtweeted cryptically about a rising star with a temper, but there was never enough info there to connect it to Majors. I have decided, and I’m not making light of the situation, that Majors carrying an empty mug everywhere because he’s “a vessel” was our brightest red flag. He took a mug everywhere, including to court (along with a Bible). It’s the self-aggrandizing affection of a self-important man, consistent with the kind of man who demands his girlfriend be like Michelle Obama and Coretta Scott King, because he is a “great man” who does “great things for the world”. Hindsight is 20/20, and that f-cking mug was the giveaway.