Jonathan Majors, who was recently convicted of assault, was slated to be one of Hollywood’s most exceptional rising stars. A classically trained actor who studied at Yale University’s School of Drama, the path to Oscar glory looked promising for him.
However, over the past year, a volatile relationship with then-girlfriend Grace Jabbari has threatened to torpedo all that the 34-year-old has worked for, including compromising his contract with Disney/Marvel.
With being a rising star came big offers for the Primetime Emmy Award winner.
Films like “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” “Captive State,” and Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” where he played alongside other Black notables such as Delroy Lindo, Norman Lewis and Chadwick Boseman, set him up to be the lead for a critically acclaimed HBO series “Lovecraft Country.”
In 2021, he starred in “The Harder They Fall,” with Idris Elba and teamed up again with Delroy Lindo and then two years later became the villain in Michael B. Jordan’s “Creed III.” These roles separated him from the pack of Black actors, vying to be the next Denzel Washington, Samuel Jackson, or Jamie Foxx. The real divide came when Disney and Marvel started knocking at his door.
Disney and Marvel’s Big Investment
It is believed that Marvel Studios actively recruited Majors to play the role, and it paid off.
Majors made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the Disney+ series Loki, taking on the role of He Who Remains and later portraying Kang the Conqueror, along with various other versions of the character in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Loki” season 2.
Critics said that he saved the franchise with his outstanding performances.
“Magnetic Jonathan Majors is the saving grace of Marvel’s baffling, illogical latest outing,” raved a Guardian critic. While Time Out wrote, “There’s a lot more Majors to come in future Marvel films and he’s really the only thing here that makes a continued story look even vaguely enticing.”
The Hollywood Reporter said, people were “on edge every moment he’s onscreen.”
These types of reviews set him up to appear in “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” and “Avengers: Secret Wars,” films. He reportedly was set to bring in a whopping $20 million salary, including back-end compensation for the “Kang Dynasty” film.
This would have made Majors, who currently has an estimated net worth that ranges between $550,000 and $2 million, one of the highest-paid Marvel actors in history, tied with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow). The highest-paid actor in the MCU is Robert Downey Jr., who played Iron Man in the film franchise by that name, according to The Direct.
The Assault Case and Fallout
Majors’ involvement took an unexpected turn when the allegations of Jabbari hit the headlines in March 2023.
First to cut ties with the actor was the United States Army, which featured him in its recruitment commercials. Millions of dollars were to be spent on this project, but the charges were too much for the military branch to stand by.
Laura DeFrancisco, spokesperson for the Army Enterprise Marketing Office, wrote according to Deadline, “While Mr. Majors is innocent until proven guilty, prudence dictates that we pull our ads until the investigation into these allegations is complete.”
He was also dropped from his management company, Entertainment 360 and disinvited to the Met Gala.
Majors’ trial started on Nov. 29, and he pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault and harassment charges. On Dec.18, 2023, he was convicted of one count of third-degree reckless assault, a misdemeanor, and a charge of harassment in the second degree. However, he was acquitted of a different assault charge and a charge of aggravated harassment.
In light of his harassment and assault conviction, Marvel Studios announced its decision to sever ties with Majors.
“It’s not tenable to build the next phase of a mega-billions franchise around an actor whose criminal history will dominate the press cycle for each film,” said a Rolling Stone magazine analysis.
His termination also pushed Marvel’s production back years.
“Marvel had more riding on Jonathan Majors than perhaps any other actor,” Jake Coyle, the Associated Press’ film critic remarked.
Adding, “Now it’s parting ways with him, and throwing years of plans for its cinematic universe in disarray.”
With the conviction, he may serve a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail. However, experts believe he might not spend any time incarcerated.
“Since it’s the defendant’s first conviction, although technically he faces one year of jail, the judge will 99 percent give him three years probation, anger management and possibly some community service. Mr. Majors is not getting jail time,” Cary London, a criminal defense attorney at Shulman & Hill, said to The Hollywood Reporter.
Legal experts suggest Jonathan Majors has appeal potential due to text message evidence prosecutors were allowed to introduce. His attorney’s trial error led a judge to allow the introduction of Molineaux evidence, revelations of a defendant’s prior acts that could prejudice a jury. This evidence, initially disallowed, may give Majors grounds for his appeal, according to attorneys.
Majors’ sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 6.