Following Jonathan Majors’ recent conviction for assault and harassment, Marvel Studios made the swift decision to terminate his contract. This turn of events leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in a state of uncertainty, both creatively and in terms of audience interest. The MCU has experienced a decline over the past year, resulting in a one-year delay in the release of its entire slate. With Majors’ departure, the immediate question arises: What will Marvel do with Kang the Conqueror, the highly anticipated main villain of this era? While recasting is an option, I propose a different idea that Marvel may have already set in motion: elevating Ravonna Renslayer to the spotlight.
Despite Ravonna’s limited presence in Loki Season 2, her story took an intriguing turn. Beginning with a paradox, Ravonna and Miss Minutes traveled to the 1800s to deliver a Time Variance Authority field manual to a child named Victor Timely, a variant of He Who Remains. However, their attempt to recruit Victor was thwarted by Loki’s interference. Miss Minutes dismisses Victor, declaring they don’t need him. Ravonna’s opposition to Loki persists until she is pruned by Hunter X-05 and sent to the end of time. There, she discovers the corpse of He Who Remains and learns about her own erased memories. As He Who Remains’ former top general in the previous multiversal war, Ravonna feels a deep betrayal. This revelation serves as a turning point for her character.
Ravonna’s arc and backstory present a compelling case for her emergence as a formidable antagonist in the MCU. As portrayed by the exceptional Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ravonna offers a refreshing departure from the likes of Thanos and Kang. Her sympathetic background resonates with viewers. She endured an unjust boss who mistreated her despite her skills and loyalty. Now, she believes she can do a better job than He Who Remains and feels an obligation to step into his role. These motivations are clear and relatable, qualities that make for a compelling MCU villain.
By contrast, Kang’s story was being saved for an Avengers movie slated for 2025, making him largely unknown to audiences. Ravonna, on the other hand, possesses grounded characteristics that Kang, a multiversal mad scientist with a history of losing his mind, does not share. Marvel already has a replacement villain waiting to assume the spotlight, and Ravonna would fit the role beautifully. Her character development provides a solid foundation for the MCU’s main antagonist, allowing her to step into the void left by Kang’s departure.
The current state of Marvel Studios presents an opportunity for a bold creative decision. The underperformance of The Marvels and lackluster reception of the 2023 slate have left the franchise fractured. With minimal references to Kang/He Who Remains outside of Loki and Quantumania, Marvel has the freedom to pivot in any direction they desire. However, tapping into Ravonna as the new primary antagonist would be the easiest and most seamless option from a storytelling perspective. The groundwork for her rise has already been laid, providing a natural continuation of the narrative.
The unexpected turn of events involving Jonathan Majors has forced Marvel Studios to reevaluate their plans for Kang the Conqueror. While recasting is a possibility, elevating Ravonna Renslayer as the new main villain offers a fresh and compelling alternative. Boasting a sympathetic backstory, clear motivations, and the exceptional talent of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ravonna is ready to step into the spotlight. Marvel has the opportunity to pivot the MCU’s narrative and capitalize on the groundwork already established. As the franchise enters a new chapter, the reign of Ravonna seems poised to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.