Marvel Has Considered Swapping Kang with Doctor Doom in “Secret Wars”

A bar graph for the breast cancer rates among women of different ethnicities.

Jonathan Majors has found himself in the midst of a major lawsuit, and his future with the MCU seems bleaker than ever. What the studio is now discussing is a pivot to its greatest villain: Doctor Doom.

Photo: Disney

Published on Nov 2, 2023

Marvel Studios had seemingly figured out what works in Hollywood: multi-starrer superhero stories set in fantastical worlds, laden with cross-over battles and computer-generated aliens. Over 15-plus years, the studio has become a revenue-generating machine — earning nearly $30 billion over 32 films, and billions more in toys and other merch.

Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, had a simple explanation for how things continued to work. “I’ve always believed in expanding the definition of what a Marvel Studios movie could be. We try to keep audiences coming back in greater numbers by doing the unexpected and not simply following a pattern or a mold or a formula,” he spoke in an interview. It was a universe of approachable human heroes, ones that did not feign immortality just to have access to an inexhaustible narrative.

The studio seemed unshakable — a web of interconnecting plots where the newest movie could have some reference traced back to 2008’s “Iron Man.” However, the web has since spread thin, sprawling over multiple Disney Plus shows and movies that lack pilots and series bibles. Instead, each requires you to fall back on seemingly endless hours of content to make sense of the events in a single episode. The over-saturation caused by this incessant churning has led to weariness in fans. As the mind behind the studio’s success begins to spread thin, Marvel is looking for a change — and it seems like Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror could be at the receiving end of it.

A still from the Disney Plus limited series "Secret Invasion."

Marvel’s “Secret Invasion” was, despite an amazing cast, the latest in its series of streaming letdowns.

Photo via Disney

The films of the MCU have almost always struck a balance between out-of-this-world battles and humane sentiment, with bits of “Marvel humor” sprinkled throughout. This has led to a near-endless streak of successful theatrical experiences, that is, until “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” came along. What was meant to be an introduction to the Quantum Realm and Jonathan Majors’ enigmatic conqueror turned out to be the flag-bearer of overburdened artists and became an “incoherent effects-dump of a movie.”

The unsettling appearance of M.O.D.O.K. probably ruined the plans for a Disney Plus spinoff series, and the internet has since gone haywire with superhero fatigue. However, Marvel’s top brass couldn’t have imagined how things would take a turn for the worse, with Jonathan Majors becoming the unindenting center of attention.

Majors was arrested in March earlier this year on charges of domestic violence against his then-girlfriend. Following multiple delays, the actor’s domestic violence trial is now set to take place on November 29. Set to be the next big baddie as the MCU moved towards the next Avengers film, Majors’ was an integral part of the studio’s current slate of films and shows. Already ingrained in the franchise, it would be a significant hurdle to recast Kang, but Marvel creatives were already preparing a plan B: one that pivoted towards their greatest villain.

Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror was meant to be the MCU's ultimate villain.

“Quantumania” was meant to be a more elaborate introduction to the enigmatic conqueror of universes. What we got instead was a film with dizzying CGI that brought attention to an overburdening production team.

Photo via Disney

Kang was intended to carry things on its back, similar to what Thanos achieved during the Infinity Saga — leading to the events of 2026’s “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” and 2027’s “Avengers: Secret Wars.” The films were meant to help reset the MCU as the studio goes back to the drawing board.

At their retreat in Palm Springs, Marvel executives discussed backup plans, the more notable of which was swapping Kang for Doctor Doom — which although would call for some major rebranding would work out better for their image in the long run. “I don’t see a path to how they move forward with him [Majors],” said a top dealmaker according to the report from Variety. The report added that Marvel had already considered axing the Majors-led phase because of the underwhelming performance of “Quantamania.”

Long Before Marvel began its own Cinematic Universe, the film rights to the Fantastic Four and related characters were sold to 20th Century Fox — which spawned two rather half-baked attempts at portraying the supervillain. However, Doctor Doom has been a central figure in the comics and even achieved godly status as the primary baddie in Marvel’s 2015 “Secret Wars” affair. If he were to appear in the films, it would bring things full circle — even at the cost of major rebuilding.

Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot at the 2016 SDCC for "Wonder Woman."

Doctor Doom is back with Marvel, and along comes the hope of seeing the supervillain on the big screen.

Photo via Bing AI

However, any shakeups would result in major headaches, and the studio has been especially evasive about the topic. Majors has recently appeared as one of the Kang variants in the second season of “Loki.” What else could the top brass be considering, then? Betting their chips on familiar faces and the irrationality of the multiverse.

Variety added that Marvel had been considering going back to the original “Avengers,” including Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, both of whom died by the end of “Avengers: Endgame.” While Downey has always had the never-say-never approach to his return, Scarlett Johansson’s future with the studio is a bit more bleak, since the two nearly took things to the court over 2021’s “Black Widow.”

While thrilling to talk about, Marvel hasn’t truly committed to any of these ideas, and they’re no more than speculation at this point. The studio hasn’t had much time to rewrite scripts since the strike ended, and any changes to follow will likely be announced by next year.