To say Marvel Entertainment's film department has been in a bit of a decline since the conclusion of its legendary "Infinity Saga" would be an understatement. In 2019, the studio released "Avengers: Endgame" to both universal critical and commercial acclaim. Not adjusted for inflation, it remains the second highest-grossing film of all time and still holds the record for the most successful opening weekend for a movie today.
When one considers the context surrounding "Avengers: Endgame," its success makes perfect sense. It was the culmination of over a decade’s worth of genre-defining films and had legions of incredibly passionate fans heavily anticipating its release.
Following the release of the successful "Spider-Man: Far From Home," Marvel would refrain from theatrical films until two years later, with 2021's attempted summer blockbuster, "Black Widow."
Compared to its predecessors, "Black Widow" underperformed at the box office. It’s the third lowest-grossing MCU film in the series and reportedly holds the distinction of being the most pirated film of July 2019.
After "Black Widow," Marvel films' performances continued to decline. Since the financial and critical juggernaut that was "Spider-Man: No Way Home," none of the post-2019 MCU films have been able to surpass "Spider-Man: Far From Home" monetarily and have obtained mostly middling audience reception.
With such a noticeable dip in performance, all eyes have been on Marvel to see what their response would be to regain its chokehold on the cinematic medium, which was ultimately revealed to be a new focus placed on beloved comic book villain "Kang The Conqueror."
At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige unveiled the next film to carry the "Avengers" title would be "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty," a film meant to kick off the fifth phase of the studio's suite of televised and theatrical titles.
Kang's debut performance was as his MCU variant He Who Remains during the first season of the 2021 Disney+ series "Loki," where he was portrayed by actor Jonathan Majors.
Prior to "Loki," Majors' screen credits included starring in HBO's "Lovecraft Country" and the independent film "The Last Black Man in San Francisco."
After playing Kang in "Loki," Majors had his Marvel film debut as the antagonist of this year’s critically panned "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."
Marvel's plan to hinge their next phase on the character of Kang has recently met some resistance as Majors was arrested about a month after the release of "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" on domestic assault charges connected to a 30-year-old woman.
While he was released from custody the next day, and his attorney claims that the woman later provided two written statements recanting the allegations, Majors is currently facing several allegations of assault and abuse from various sources.
As a result of these developments, several of Majors' business partners have cut ties with the actor. He has been dropped as a client by his management company "Entertainment 360," and several recruitment advertisements for the U.S. Army, which previously featured Majors, have left circulation.
Despite all of the attention toward both it and its now disgraced star, Marvel has yet to formally cut ties with Majors. At its annual retreat in Palm Springs, California, the issue of how to proceed regarding Majors' future in the MCU was reportedly a heavily discussed topic.
In addition, the overall decaying state of the MCU was a point of debate, with several alternative ideas to revitalize the franchise being proposed, including a pivot to focus on "Fantastic Four" villain "Doctor Doom," to even rehiring Robert Downey Jr. to reprise his role as "Iron Man" in future films. Regardless, it remains to be seen how Marvel will proceed with their production plans at this time.