Critics Divided Over Jonathan Majors’ ‘Loki’ Performance: “Borderline Unwatchable”

in Entertainment, Marvel

Jonathan Majors as Victory Timely clutching his briefcase in 'Loki' 2.03

Credit: Marvel Studios

After last week’s Loki episode ended with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger, the fate of Jonathan Majors’ genius Kang variant, Victor Timely, seems more uncertain than ever. And ahead of Episode 5’s premiere on Disney+, one series director is speaking on the challenges of bringing Timely into the MCU, describing Majors’ performance as “quirky” and “awkward” as the actor’s employment at Marvel remains in jeopardy. 

Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Confirmed: Disney Officially Removes Star Jonathan Majors After Court Decision

So far, this season of the Disney+ Loki show has made it clear that the stakes are higher than ever, and it’s not messing around when it comes to telling a dark, gruesome story in the build-up to the impending Multiversal War.

With Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (2026) on the horizon, it’s not exactly surprising that Loki‘s sophomore season serves as the building blocks of the upcoming team-up flick while also addressing some loose story threads of its own, namely, the fate of He Who Remains and the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA).

Loki, OB, Mobius, and Hunter B-15 in 'Loki'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Confirmed: Disney Axes Multiple MCU Projects After Failures

Fronted by fan-favorite MCU alum Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson reprises his role as TVA analyst Mobius M. Mobius for Loki Season 2, alongside Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie and franchise newcomer Ke Huy Quan, who plays repairs and maintenance guru O.B. Controversial actor Jonathan Majors also returned to the project after making his Marvel debut as He Who Remains in Season 1.

Majors also had a prominent role as Kang the Conqueror in Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), which premiered to little fanfare in January, kicking off the MCU’s Phase Five. But even though his performance as Kang is often cited as one of the film’s sole redeeming factors, shortly after its premiere, things took a turn for the worse.

Jonathan Majors looking stern as Kang the Conqueror
Credit: Marvel Studios

As many fans know by now, Majors was arrested in New York City back in March after an alleged domestic dispute with his then-girlfriend and was charged with harassment and assault. Since then, the actor has pleaded innocent, though several additional female victims have stepped forward in light of his upcoming trial, which is finally scheduled to kick off in November after being postponed.

Disney and Marvel have yet to issue an official statement on the accusations against Majors and have refused to comment on his standing at the superhero studio, likely until an outcome is reached in court. Until then, Marvel is electing to stay silent, playing the neutrality card while still promoting Majors’ role(s) in the second season of Loki.

Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains in Loki Season 1
Credit: Marvel Studios

Still, a few MCU alums, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie and Loki executive producer Kevin Wright, have publicly spoken in favor of Majors, with the general consensus being that Marvel shouldn’t be “too hasty” by making any decisions surrounding Majors’ future as Kang just yet, given that he’s poised to play a key role in the remainder of the Multiverse Saga.

Currently, Majors has a recurring part as He Who Remains and bumbling 19th-century inventor, Victor Timely, in the new batch of Loki episodes, which premiered on Disney+ earlier this month. Timely made his initial MCU debut in the post-credits for Quantumania, which was expanded on in the Season 2 episode, “1893.”

Warning! Spoilers ahead for all episodes of Loki Season 2.

Following Mobius and the titular God of Mischief as they track down Timely at the Chicago World’s Fair, a grander conspiracy quickly unravels once rogue AI assistant Miss Minutes (Tara Strong) and Judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) try to recruit the Kang variant to work against the TVA, while Loki and Mobius need his signature to help fix their damaged Temporal Loom.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) at the Chicago Worlds' Fair in "Loki' 2.03
Credit: Marvel Studios

Things quickly go awry, and after Ravonna and Miss Minutes gruesomely murder General Dox (Kate Dickie) and her army of Minutemen, Timely, Loki, Mobius, Sylvie, and Co. are swallowed up in a TVA-destroying explosion when their attempt to fix the Temporal Loom goes south. While the condition of the Sacred Timeline remains unknown, it sure looks like the end of the line for the mysterious time-keeping space bureaucracy.

Majors’ characters are intended to be a new, unifying, Thanos-level threat for the MCU after the Infinity Saga introduced one of the most menacing supervillains in cinematic history. Still, after the most recent Loki episodes, most would agree that Victor Timely doesn’t exactly have the same calculating prowess as Thanos (Josh Brolin) and the Kang variants before him.

Jonathan Majors as Victor Timely in 'Loki' 2.03
Credit: Marvel Studios

Although Majors is, without a doubt, an extremely capable performer, some critics were quick to comment on his “distractingly bad” portrayal of the troubled genius in Loki, with Decider contributor Brett White deeming it “borderline unwatchable” and comparing it to “a second grader stumbling through lines in a hastily produced school presentation:”

Victory Timely, however, is painful to watch. Embarrassing, even. Part of that is intentional and inherent to the character. Victor Timely is, to put it bluntly, a nerd. He’s a socially awkward mad scientist type who doesn’t get out much and has had his nerd brain exploded by the dynamite ideas kept within a TVA handbook. But there’s playing all of that in a way that fits the tone of the surrounding production, and then there’s whatever Jonathan Majors is doing.

But even though Majors’, erm, acting choices might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Loki Season 2 director Kasra Farahani defended his take on Timely while speaking with Collider, giving Majors a sort of backhanded compliment by saying his “awkward” performance is, whether you like it or not, true to his character’s “nerdy” archetype.

He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) in Marvel Studios' LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Marvel Studios

During the interview, Farahani, who directed Episode 3, opened up about bringing the “quirky” Timely into the mix for Loki Season 2, admitting that showrunners struggled to “find an interesting new version of a Kang variant” that also “fe[d] the needs of this season’s story arc:

I think that we were sort of trying to find an interesting new version of a Kang variant and one that would sort of subvert expectations but, most importantly, feed the needs of this season’s story arc. And in terms of Timely himself, he was just inspired by the Einsteins of the world, this archetype of this creative, quirky thinker who’s operating on a level, you know, seven levels higher than everybody around him, and yet in some ways, as a result, is as awkward and can’t connect on a more basic level.

Farahani’s comments on Timely aren’t exactly a burn on Majors and his abilities by any stretch, but it’s interesting to see a Marvel supervillain pull inspiration from “the Einsteins of the world” while also being described as “quirky” and “awkward.”

Jonathan Majors waving hands as Kang Variant He Who Remains
Credit: Marvel Studios

Timely is far from the first instance of Marvel using the “mad scientist” trope for their villains, with James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) featuring an admittedly more cunning and cold-hearted antagonist known as The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji).

It makes sense that Loki would want to maintain Timely’s moral ambiguity in Season 2, with the character often depicted in a sympathetic light — a stark contrast from Kang and the all-knowing He Who Remains in Season 1. Considering Timely does, if the newly-released mid-season trailer is anything to go by, get a second chance to save the TVA, he could end up being the good guy after all. Well, in this timeline, at least.

Jonathan Majors as Victory Timely presenting his Temporal Loom in 'Loki' 2.04
Credit: Marvel Studios

It goes without saying that Marvel’s Jonathan Majors’ situation is a highly nuanced issue, and only time will tell how everything pans out after he appears in court next month. If guilty, the actor could be saying goodbye to his MCU gig forever. But if he’s proven innocent, then things are only getting started for Majors and his future as Kang the Conqueror.

New episodes of Loki arrive on Disney+ on Thursdays at 6 p.m. PT.

Do you think Jonathan Majors deserves a second chance in Hollywood? Let us know in the comments below. 

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