The Jonathan Majors Trial Is a Major Headache for ‘Loki,’  Disney+, and the MCU
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Tv The Jonathan Majors Trial Is a Major Headache for ‘Loki,’  Disney+, and the MCU

The Jonathan Majors Trial Is a Major Headache for ‘Loki,’  Disney+, and the MCU



The Jonathan Majors Trial Is a Major Headache for ‘Loki,’  Disney+, and the MCU

“Loki,” which returned for a second season on Thursday, might (low-key) be the top Disney+ original series. Though “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian” is generally considered to be the star of the original Disney+ shows, a long look at Nielsen data suggests Tom Hiddleston’s “Avengers” spinoff may be the brightest celestial body in the galaxy.

Since Nielsen launched its weekly Streaming Top 10 List in 2020, of all Disney+ original series, 19 have charted at least once, totaling 120 overall appearances for the streamer. Of those 120 appearances, 12 reached 1 billion minutes viewed: nine for “The Mandalorian,” two for “Loki,” and one week for “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” (“The Mandalorian” crossed 1 billion minutes in the final full week of 2019, when the seventh of its first eight episodes was released; Nielsen was measuring but not yet making a list.)

“Loki” first hit that magic number with the release of its fifth episode. It did again with the first season’s sixth (and final) episode. Strong backloaded viewership makes sense in the on-demand era: More minutes available to binge (see: Netflix and “Suits”) and the payoffs that come with a season finale is a potent combination.

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The reverse can also be true. Viewership on a new series or season could be frontloaded based on anticipation alone. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” made the 1 billion-minutes mark in its second week of availability, but never again. (It came very close in Week 3.) “The Mandalorian” had more than 1 billion minutes viewed during the week its second season premiered, but not again over the next three weeks.

“The Mandalorian” has three eight-episode seasons available on Disney+. “Obi-Wan,” like “Loki” (until today), has six.

“Loki” enjoyed the biggest series premiere week of any Disney+ show to date, amassing 731 million minutes viewed in Week 1. Hitting the way-back button on our Nielsen spreadsheet, “The Mandalorian” had 495 million minutes viewed on a much more nascent Disney+.

Disney has referred to “Loki” as “the most-watched Marvel Studios series on Disney+,” but not publicly compared it to “The Mandalorian.” Disney declined to do so for this story.

Our comparison continues: “Loki” and “The Mandalorian” both have a 71 critics’ score on Metacritic, (aka “generally favorable”), with “The Mandalorian” enjoying a slightly higher rating among viewers.

IndieWire TV critic Ben Travers assigned Season 2 of “Loki” a “C,” the same as Season 1. (Professor Travers was more generous with “The Mandalorian” and “Obi-Wan.”)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12:  Jonathan Majors attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Jonathan MajorsGetty Images

However, “Loki” Season 2 must contend with more than the critics: There is a Major(s) problem. The imminent Marvel Cinematic Universe-installment must also battle the news cycle and the New York City D.A.

Jonathan Majors, who is among the leads in “Loki,” was arrested (and released) in New York on March 25. His former girlfriend Grace Jabbari says Majors assaulted her while riding in a taxi back to his Manhattan apartment. Police responded to a 911 call and noted minor injuries to Jabbari’s head and neck. Majors, who was charged with misdemeanor harassment and assault, denies the allegations.

Majors’ defense team has filed a motion to dismiss the charges. October 6, the day after “Loki” Season 2 premieres, is the district attorney’s deadline to respond to Majors’ team’s motion to dismiss. The defense must reply to that by October 13. Barring any changes, Majors’ already-delayed trial begins October 25; he must appear in person. In terms of the “Loki” Season 2 schedule, that is when Episode 4 (of 6) will be reaching Disney+.

“Loki” executive producer Kevin Wright spoke to Variety about Season 2, including the Majors situation. He said the production did not do additional photography to cut Majors or recast his character, Kang the Conqueror. Kang was also the villain in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” released in February.

“It felt hasty to do anything without knowing how all of this plays out,” Wright said.

There are (were?) huge future plans for Majors in the MCU. Majors had been set to star in the 2026 feature film “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.” He’s also booked for 2027’s “Avengers: Secret Wars.” Those films are far out from starting production, however, and plans for the Kang character are almost certainly pending trial results.

“Loki” Episode 201 premieres Thursday on Disney+.

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