Marvel should replace Jonathan Majors with Chukwudi Iwuji, and they should do it now before James Gunn locks him into a major DC role.
If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and you don’t understand why I think Marvel needs to replace Jonathan Majors with Chukwudi Iwuji, you need to go back to the theater, watch it again, and stay awake this time. The Nigerian-British actor turns one of Marvel Comics’ most boring bad guys, the High Evolutionary, into one of the most intimidating villains of the MCU. Marvel needs to get Iwuji as the new Kang the Conqueror now, before James Gunn locks him into a DC role big enough to fill his schedule.
Why should Jonathan Majors lose his part as Kang? Look, there will always be extremists on both sides. There will be those who think Majors should never work again if they find out he even thought about saying the word “assault,” and then there are those who could stumble upon Majors himself standing atop a pile of bloody corpses and would proudly utter, “well last time I checked, innocent until proven guilty.”
Whether or not you believe from a moral or ethical perspective that Jonathan Majors should be replaced as Kang, from a purely pragmatic perspective, it just makes sense. Since the first allegations of domestic assault were leveled against him, things have steadily gotten worse for the Creed III star. From a point of view most concerned with Marvel’s bottom line, they need to get rid of him before more skeletons come racing out of his closet.
DC chose not to replace Ezra Miller as the Flash but part of their reason, no doubt, is that Miller would make one more performance and, conveniently, in a film meant to reboot its entire cinematic narrative. If Miller’s remaining in the role would have meant a multi-feature commitment as Jonathan Majors’ part as Kang does, things might have gone a lot differently for The Flash star.
So if we agree Jonathan Majors should be replaced, why should it be Chukwudi Iwuji who replaces him? First of all, all moral judgments aside, Majors is an incredible actor and it will take someone of equal talent to replace him. From what he showed us both in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. and in his first collaboration with James Gunn — HBO Max’s Peacemaker — Iwuji fits the bill.
Second, the Multiverse storyline gives Marvel an opening not only to explain any recasting for Kang, but to actually make it part of the story. After all, with both Jonathan Majors’ Kang and Chukwudi Iwuji’s High Evolutionary proving to be powerful, obsessed, technologically advanced geniuses, who’s to say the Evolutionary isn’t a variant of Kang? The filmmakers wouldn’t need to make that the case if they replaced Majors with Iwuji, but it illustrates the endless options the Multiverse offers the storytellers.
No, I don’t think the fact that Chukwudi Iwuji already played one villain somehow means he can’t play another. No one cried foul when Mahershala Ali was cast as Blade even though he played Cottonmouth in Luke Cage. Nor did anyone seem to mind Alfre Woodard playing Black Mariah on the same series, even though she’d played the woman who guilt-trips Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) into backing the Sokovia Accords in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
And all of that was before the Multiverse became such a big part of the MCU’s narrative.
If we agree it’s Chukwudi Iwuji who should replace Jonathan Majors, then why should it be done yesterday? Well, there’s the obvious matter that Iwuji’s performance in Guardians 3 is no doubt going to result in the actor’s phone ringing a lot more often. But then there’s perhaps the less obvious matter that Iwuji’s signature performance is in a James Gunn-helmed film.
Gunn has a penchant for working with particular actors multiple times, and in fact, Iwuji is already an example of this since the news of his casting in Guardians 3 came while Peacemaker‘s first season was still streaming new episodes. There are also plenty of alum from Gunn’s other non-Guardians projects in Guardians 3 like Daniela Melchior, Jennifer Holland, and Nathan Fillion (who did voice a character in the first Guardians film but plays a completely new character in the third film).
It’s possible that James Gunn has already locked in Chukwudi Iwuji to another DC screen role that would make it tough for him to accept an offer to replace Jonathan Majors as Kang (not because an actor can’t work for both companies, obviously they can, but because of time commitments). True, he already played a live-action character in Peacemaker, but with the reboot that The Flash will bring, anything is possible.
If Marvel cares about the Multiverse story they’ve been building, Jonathan Majors needs to go. Is there someone else out there who could get the job done? Probably. But if you’ve seen Chukwdui Iwuji’s turn as the High Evolutionary and don’t think he would make a great Kang, again I’d urge you to rewatch Guardians 3, and try it to sober this time.