Jonathan Majors as a Kang variant in 'Loki'

‘Loki’ EP’s Comments on Jonathan Majors Say a Lot About How Studios Handle Controversial Actors

Loki executive producer Kevin Wright’s comments on Jonathan Majors’ presence in season 2 say a lot about how some studios handle controversial actors. While Majors played a vital role in Loki season 1 as the Kang the Conqueror variant He Who Remains and was expected to return for the show’s second season, his role came into question after he was arrested on assault charges. He is still currently awaiting trial for charges of assault and harassment that stem from a domestic dispute with his then-girlfriend on March 25, 2023.

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The allegations against Majors, for the most part, were swiftly met with severe consequences. Majors was dropped by his management and PR companies, recast in the film adaptation of The Man in My Basement, and removed from ads for the United States Army and Texas Rangers. However, in the midst of this, Disney remained oddly silent about Majors’ future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The studio merely quietly confirmed Majors’ return in Loki by featuring him as Kang variant Victor Timely in the season 2 trailer.

Now, just days before Loki season 2’s premiere, Wright has finally broken the silence surrounding Majors’ role in the series.

Kevin Wright’s explanation for Jonathan Majors’ return

Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains in Loki

Wright addressed Majors’ role in Loki season 2 during an interview with Variety, though his response isn’t particularly reassuring. Asked if Loki season 2 made any changes after Majors’ arrest, Wright responded, “No. This is maybe—not maybe—this is the first Marvel series to never have any additional photography. The story that is on screen is the story we set out to make. We went out there with a very specific idea of what we wanted this to be, and we found a way to tell it in that production period. It’s very much what’s on screen on Disney+.”

His emphasis on Loki‘s specific vision and tidy production seems to imply that changes weren’t made because it would’ve been a hassle. It would’ve gone against the studio’s desire to avoid additional photography and what it wanted the series to look like. When pressed further if there were at least thoughts about changing things, Wright’s response was surprising. “No,” said Wright when asked. “And that mainly came from—I know as much as you do at the moment. It felt hasty to do anything without knowing how all of this plays out.”

While Wright is correct that Majors hasn’t been proven guilty, taking a “wait and see” approach is still troubling. Actors often don’t need to have been tried or found guilty to face repercussions. Studios have been known to cut ties out of an abundance of caution while awaiting the results of an investigation, especially since this can reiterate a studio’s stance of zero-tolerance towards serious crimes.

Additionally, Wright didn’t even mention that the studio was taking the allegations seriously or that action would be taken once a full investigation was complete—also very surprising. It feels strange to have someone accused of something as serious as domestic abuse and for their employers to shrug and say, “Oh, we’ll just sit back and see how it plays out.”

How many other studios take this approach?

Ezra Miller and Sasha Calle in the flash
(Warner Bros.)

Wright’s insight into Disney’s response to the allegations against Majors makes one wonder how many other studios take this hands-off approach. After all, Majors is not the only controversial actor who recently maintained a role in a major film even after serious allegations surfaced against them.

The example that most frequently comes to mind is Ezra Miller, who faced multiple arrests, was accused of numerous crimes, and was charged with felony burglary throughout 2022. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. remained silent through the mounting legal troubles and kept Miller in the lead role of The Flash, which released in June 2023. In 2022, Armie Hammer shockingly maintained his role in Death on the Nile after being accused of rape, despite all other productions dropping him once the allegations were made public. Meanwhile, although quite different from the aforementioned allegations, Zachary Levi has continued to portray Shazam in the DC Universe and was recently cast in Spy Kids: Armageddon despite his multiple controversies, including his habit of spreading anti-vaxx sentiments.

If these studios at least acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations and made compelling arguments for supporting the justice system’s presumption of innocence until proven guilty, things might be different. After all, while caution is commendable, it’s not necessarily wrong for these studios to want to avoid taking harsh action if there’s a chance it’s not warranted. The problem is that, in all the cases above, the studios responded to severe allegations with silence or feeble excuses that strongly indicated the only real reason for their actions was laziness and a hyperfocus on the bottom line.

Disney silently released Death on the Nile, starring Hammer, seemingly because reshoots would’ve been too much work. Warner Bros. stood by Miller because it was convinced The Flash would be huge for DC (it wasn’t), and James Gunn shrugged off Levi’s controversies because he doesn’t want to change his plans all the time when actors say or do something controversial online (something he has plenty of personal experience with). Now, Majors is starring in Loki because Disney didn’t want to mess up its neat production and wants to wait and see what happens. It doesn’t want to be “hasty,” but also doesn’t offer any thoughts on what happens if the allegations are true, and it just gave a major platform and support to someone it probably shouldn’t have.

There’s no clear answer for how studios should handle controversial actors, but whatever course of action they take should have clear reasoning behind it and not just be based on laziness and greed.

(featured image: Disney+)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.