Jonathan Majors, who was slated to play the next major villain in the biggest movie franchise in history, was convicted of harassment on Monday and fired by Marvel Studios about an hour after the verdict. Thus ends a year of uncertainty during which the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown both creatively and in terms of audience interest (link to something), leading to the entire MCU slate being delayed by a year. While the powers that be try to get do it together
Without Majors, the immediate big question is easy: What will Marvel do with Kang the Conqueror, who was supposed to be the Thanos of this era of the MCU? The easiest option is to reverse the role, something they’ve already done with Terrence Howard and Ed Norton in the early days of the franchise. So far, Majors has only appeared in Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania — a film that’s proven unpopular — and two seasons of Loki. That’s more time than Howard or Norton have each appeared in a single film, but not by much. I doubt that audiences are too attached to the Majors at this point.
If Marvel wants to go down the rebuilding route, it’ll probably be fine — or at least no worse than it is now. But I have a different idea that Marvel has probably already started: it’s time for Ravonna Renslayer to step into the spotlight.
From where we’re sitting now, it’s really hard to tell what exactly happened with Season 2’s Loki, who has been completely lost in the last two episodes. It looks like whatever arc was planned for Ravana played by the great Gugu Mbata Rav has been cut short. But while Ravonna didn’t appear in Season 2 as much as we expected Did It set him on a new path, free from him who would remain and Kang, who would be his boss for eternity.
Ravenna’s story in the second season of Loki began with a paradox. He and Miss Minutes travel back to the 1800s and deliver the Time Variance Authority Field Manual to a child named Victor Timely, a version of He Who Remains from Marvel’s original continuity. Later, they try to recruit Victor to their cause, but it fails thanks to Loki’s interference. But Miss Minutes is less enamored with Victor. He’s not real, she says, and can never be what he remains—and therefore, as Mrs. Minutes declares quite emphatically, “we don’t need him.”
However, Ravenna continued to oppose Loki until Sylvie forced Hunter X-05 to prune Ravenna and send her to the Apocalypse. There, Ravenna finds his remains and learns of her past. He was the main general of “He Who Remains” in the previous multi-sided war, repaid his loyalty by erasing his memory and his work at the TVA. Learning this was the last straw for Ravenna.
But it was also his last real Loki scene, as he was completely absent from the Season 2 finale, aside from a contextless shot of him apparently still resting at the end of time. His plan was suspended.
Those motivations and that backstory combine to establish Ravenna as a wild card in the MCU that perfectly fits Kang’s place, and maybe she should. Mbatha-Raw is a great actor who could make for a very different baddie than Thanos or Kang. Her backstory is sympathetic – she had a grumpy boss who treated her badly despite her skill and loyalty, and now she believes she can do the job better than him. that he is obliged to do so. These are very clear motivations that we understand and relate to. And that’s exactly what we want from the MCU’s key bad guy.
In contrast, Marvel pushed back almost all of Kang’s story for the 2025 Avengers movie, so we don’t really get to know him. Ravenna is already grounded in a way that Kang, the multifaceted mad scientist who has lost his mind multiple times, could probably never truly be.
In other words, Marvel has an alternate villain waiting in the wings, ready to step into the spotlight, and he’s all too good for it. But with everything up in the air and the schedule going on, he’s also probably the best option available, creatively.
But it’s a pretty brutal situation behind the scenes at Marvel Studios, after The Marvels bombed and the rest of the 2023 pages failed to make much of an impact. The franchise has been so torn apart in the last few years that there hasn’t been any major MCU thread in it – Kang/He Who Remains has never even been mentioned outside of Loki and Quantumania, which means relatively will be. Easy rotation every Marvel might want to get in on that. But turning Ravenna in as the new main bad would be the easiest and most natural option from a story perspective. They literally did the leg work beforehand.