Marvel Studios could reassemble the original Avengers for a new movie as they face a Kang problem with Jonathan Majors heading to trial.
The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe could face more than world-ending villains as the once-money-printing superhero arena struggles to recover from a pandemic, industry-wide strikes, and audience fatigue. In September, Marvel creatives gathered for an annual retreat, including Marvel studio chief Kevin Feige. Traditionally, cocksure enthusiasm fuels these brainstorming sessions, with creatives riding high off the studio’s latest box-office-breaking success story. However, several discouraging factors continue to haunt the MCU since 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, a finale that many see as the end of an era for the cinematic superhero boom.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Marvel compensated for the lack of theatrical real estate by pumping out content for the Disney-branded streaming service Disney+. Unsure of how long the pandemic could last, the plan was to film under strict regulations, with as few gaps in the schedule as possible. Ignoring the possibility of oversaturation, Marvel rearranged its slate to ensure capes and tights were always close to the hearts and minds of their adoring public. Still, too much of a good thing can hamper interest quickly.
With the MCU currently experiencing a downturn in viewership and box office earnings – with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania underperforming and The Marvels tracking for financial failure – the studio faces a more significant problem: What to do about Jonathan Majors’ Kang, the MCU’s next Thanos-level Big Bad. Sadly, Majors is gearing up for a high-profile trial in New York later this month on domestic violence charges. The actor insists he’s innocent, but the damage to his reputation is mighty, and the shadow of allegations made against the actor looms long over the MCU.
At the meeting, executives discussed backup plans, including the possibility of introducing the classic Fantastic Four villain Dr. Doom as a new adversary. Swapping Kang for Doom comes with a set of seemingly impossible challenges. Kang is central to many of the MCU’s future projects, with a forthcoming Avengers movie revolving around the time-manipulating villain. He’s also featured heavily in the current season of Loki on Disney+. Sources with intimate knowledge about the Season 2 finale say writing Majors out of the MCU is a ridiculous notion.
“Marvel is truly fucked with the whole Kang angle,” says a top dealmaker who has seen the final Loki episode. “And they haven’t had an opportunity to rewrite until very recently [because of the WGA strike]. But I don’t see a path to how they move forward with him.”
Beyond Marvel’s Kang problem are projections for the studio’s next blockbuster, The Marvels. The film opens on November 10 and is currently tracking for a $75 million – $80 million opening. The Captain Marvel-centric starring Brie Larson cost $250 million to produce. Woof!
When Marvel realized The Marvels needed significant story adjustments, they arranged four weeks of reshoots. In addition to the costly redo of pivotal elements, the film’s director, Nia DaCosta, moved to London to work on another movie while The Marvels was still in post-production. This situation is highly uncommon. “If you’re directing a $250 million movie, it’s kind of weird for the director to leave with a few months to go,” a source close to the production said.
As the studio faces trouble with its long-gestating Blade project, a Hail Mary could be in the works by reviving the original Avengers for a new film. Sources close to Marvel Studios say there are whispers about getting the band back together, including Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, both of whom were killed in Avengers: Endgame. Before you flip tables, remember we’re dealing with comic book characters. Deceased characters can return through the use of time travel or multiversal shenanigans. How audiences will react to this idea is anyone’s guess. We hear the studio is still determining the concept, which could be an expensive one. One sticking point is salaries for the actors required to pull off the plan. Sources say Downey Jr.’s upfront salary for Iron Man 3 was around $25 million. Add names like Scarlet Johansson (who had a nasty breakup with Marvel over her Black Widow salary), Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth to the mix, and you’ve got a problem even Scrooge McDuck’s money bin might not be able to solve.
With Marvel facing many roadblocks, it isn’t easy to see a way forward. The studio needs a miracle if it hopes to return to the salad days of superhero supremacy. Do you think Marvel Studios can recover? Let us know what you think in the comments below. For more details, including backlash from the production of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, check out Variety‘s full report.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/marvel-studios-kang-problem/