Post updated 12/15/23. See update below.
More trouble is brewing for both Disney and the embattled MCU star Jonathan Majors as text messages and an audio recording between the Kang actor and his ex-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, were entered as evidence in the actor’s ongoing assault case.
The new evidence includes disturbing text messages that were made public last week as well as a new audio recording in which Majors allegedly compares himself to Martin Luther King Jr. and describes himself as “a great man” in what appears to be an attempt to prevent Jabbari from going out drinking with friends.
In the text messages, Majors attempts to dissuade Jabbari from going to the hospital for a head injury. “I will tell the doctor I bumped my head if I go” she replies. “I’m going to give it one more day, but I can’t sleep and I need some stronger pain killers. That’s all: why would I tell them what really happened when it’s clear I want to be with you?”
He proceeds to tell her that he’s a monster and threatens to kill himself, among other troubling texts.
The audio recording sheds a new light on the case and on the pair’s relationship, as well as into Majors’ high opinion of himself.
“I’m a great man. A great man,” Majors says at one point in the clip. “I am doing great things, not just for me, but for my, for my culture and the world. That is actually the position I’m in.”
He likens his greatness to other important historical figures in the black community during the recording as well, saying: “No, no, do you understand that? Because that team, that unit, right? Grace has to be of a certain mindset to support — Coretta Scott King, do you know who that is? That’s Martin Luther King’s wife. Michelle Obama, Barack Obama’s wife.”
There’s more. You can read the transcript and listen to the audio over at Variety.
Setting aside the outcome of the assault case, this is a glimpse into a deeply troubling mindset from Majors. It’s clear at this point that Disney needs to cut its losses and either recast the current MCU super-villain, Kang, or change course entirely and move away from the Kang storyline. I agree with my colleague Paul Tassi who wrote last week: “Majors needs to go. He needed to go a while ago, and this new evidence read into record has to spur Disney to action at this point.”
It appears evidence will continue to mount. It may not be evidence that convicts him in a court of law, but his reputation is in tatters, and judging by the way he behaves in these texts and the audio recording, it’s a deserved fall from—well—grace. Oh the irony. Whether or not Majors is guilty or innocent of this assault, he is clearly someone that Disney should part ways with for a host of other reasons.
All of this is a terrible shame, I should add. Majors is a remarkably gifted actor. His performances in Lovecraft Country and in Loki’s brilliant second season were both phenomenal. If we were able to entirely separate the art from the artist, I could simply heap praise upon him for his extraordinary talent. But alas, this is not possible. You can be both supremely talented and a very bad person at the same time, unfortunately.
I have gotten a ton of pushback to this (rather mild) piece on Twitter and elsewhere, to the point where I’ve begun to suspect that there are troll farms coordinating attacks on anyone who dares to criticize Jonathan Majors no matter how mildly.
The same few complaints (or all-out profanity-ridden attacks) keep popping up, which is hardly surprising whether this is an organic response from the fandom or a coordinated attempt to silence critics (or some combination of both). I’ll touch on each of these individually, though I’m sure I’m forgetting some. These are mostly strawmen and red herrings, though a bit of ad hominem always finds its way in as well.
1. This Doesn’t Prove He’s Guilty!
Right off the bat, the thing I heard from angry Twitter users was some version of “how does this prove he’s guilty?” or “The video footage suggests otherwise!” in reference to the video of Jabbari chasing Majors from the taxi.
This one is also pretty easy to counter, especially since it’s directed at people who clearly didn’t bother to read the actual article before angrily tweeting at me. I never said that the texts or audio recording prove Majors is guilty. I never even discussed whether or not he’s guilty, as I have no idea whether or not that’s true. The court case will determine his guilt or innocence under the law, but even then what actually happened will remain a contested mystery.
The texts and audio recording do, however, shed light on both the relationship and Majors’ thinking process. We now know that he thinks of himself as “a great man” and uses threats of suicide during an argument, which appears to be a form of manipulation in this instance.
2. You’re (or, as is often the case, “your”) Biased!
This is the most common response to this piece, and to many things I’ve written that involve opinions—it’s actually kind of astonishing how many people accuse a critic of writing a “biased review”—and it’s by far the most irritating, if not the most serious.
What I wrote above this update was not a straight news piece. I wasn’t merely reporting on what Majors said in his texts and the audio recording. I was offering some small commentary on the matter. My opinion is that threats of suicide as manipulation and other narcissistic tendencies make Majors a liability for Disney. It’s possible that they will be unable to insure him to do the suicide threats alone.
It’s fine if you say “I disagree with your opinion” but simply claiming “bias” only reaffirms that you are ignorant and don’t understand either how journalism works or what the word bias actually means. Bias implies that I have some personal beef with Majors and that even outside of this case and these texts, I want some excuse to knock him down a peg or two. This is simply not true. As I stated in the original article, I think Majors is a brilliant actor and one of the best actors the MCU has recruited in recent years. I think it’s a huge shame that all of this has transpired and wish it were not so. I think his performance in Loki in particular was absolutely riveting. But being a good actor doesn’t shield you from criticism.
3. Also Racist!
This one keeps getting thrown around and while I don’t think I should even dignify it with a response, I think it has to be addressed. Nothing about this case or these texts etc. has anything to do with race, at least not for me. I understand the sensitivity here, that the black community might be defensive over this, but just like being a good actor or a rich celebrity or a powerful politician shouldn’t shield you from consequences or criticism, neither should the color of your skin. To suggest otherwise would in and of itself be racist. All men and women should be treated equally and this applies to Majors as well.
4. What About Ezra Miller / Jeremy Renner / Robert Downey Jr. ???
The racism card is often pulled alongside a version of this question. Why weren’t you writing similarly critical pieces about Ezra Miller? Well, about a year ago—before The Flash came out—I called for DC and Warner Bros. to drop Miller over their many, many infractions, which include assault and some pretty nutty recordings. I actually listed off all the things Miller was accused of / convicted of and made a pretty strong case that regardless of DC’s investment in the actor and film, dropping them was the right thing to do.
As for Renner, he was accused of stuff by his ex-wife during a nasty divorce. Nothing was proven or even corroborated. Nobody took these accusations seriously. There was nothing to report on.
Robert Downey Jr. was convicted of drug-related crimes long before he became Iron Man. He was not convicted of assaulting a woman. No evidence or reports came out that he was abusing anything or anyone other than drugs. There is a huge difference between addiction and assault (though they are certainly not mutually exclusive).
5. This Is Just Cancel Culture / #MeToo / Woke etc.
I have written countless pieces about the dangers of excessive cancel culture. But being a skeptic of cancel culture is not the same thing as believing there should be zero consequences no matter what. I don’t think some bad tweets or old jokes should get you fired from your job. I believe people can change, repent, reform and be redeemed. I believe that the current zeitgeist is often spearheaded by zealots who want power more than they want justice.
But! I also believe that there are some things worth being cancelled over, or at least suffering some consequences over. This includes assault and battery. This includes emotional abuse. And this applies to you whether you’re black or white, man or woman or—as in Ezra Miller’s illustrious career of abusive behavior—non-binary. There is always a risk that noble causes get snatched up by modern-day Robespierres, and that what seemed at first like a noble cause becomes little more than a yard of guillotines, but that does not mean we simply stop holding people accountable for their actions entirely—and that applies to our political leaders, our teachers, our celebrities and ourselves.
I’m also not suggesting that Majors should never work again or calling for his career to come to an end. I think he, like anyone else, should have a chance to make amends and continue to practice his craft and put food on the table. But that doesn’t mean he’s a good choice for Disney and the MCU at this point.
6. What About Jabbari?
As far as I know, whether or not Jabbari was part of the problem, whether or not this toxic relationship had two sides (they almost always do) the fact is, Jabbari is not Kang. She is not a famous actor poised to become the next mega-villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My focus here is on what Majors said in these texts and audio because my focus is on the MCU and what all of this means for the MCU going forward. Much like my Miller piece, I don’t focus on the other people involved in these instances for this very obvious reason. That’s for the courts to sort out.
I also made a video discussing this issue which you can watch below:
I made a video on why Ezra Miller should be dumped as The Flash a while back as well.