If you haven’t heard the name Jonathan Majors yet, expect to hear it quite a lot over the next year. Majors has quickly become one of the biggest rising stars in the film industry, and he’s set to have the biggest year of his career thus far in 2023. After stopping by the Sundance Film Festival for the World Premiere of Elijah Bynum’s new drama Magazine Dreams, Majors will appear as the main antagonist in the new Marvel Cinematic Universe film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Given that Phase 6 is set to feature Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, it looks like Majors’ role as Kang the Conqueror won’t be a “one shot” bad guy at all.
That’s not to mention that Majors will also be squaring off with Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis in Creed III, the hotly new installment in the Rocky spinoff series. Things seem to be moving past for Majors, but his versatility and screen presence marked him for success at a very young age. After picking up theater experience in the Dallas, Texas area when he was in high school, Majors’ talents caught the interest of filmmakers like Gus Van Sant and Spike Lee. Very few actors are able to announce themselves as “movie stars” so early on in their careers, but Majors is certainly an exception.
Before he dominates 2023, make sure to check out these Jonathan Majors performances.
Scott Cooper’s dark revisionist western examines the cyclical nature of violence in the American west with a mature point-of-view; while endless cycles of revenge will never solve anything, how can indigenous people ever make peace with the colonizers who committed genocide? Hostiles is a film about outsiders in all walks of life; Majors has a standout supporting role as Lt. Rudy Kidder, an earnest member of Captain Blocker’s (Christian Bale) team who faces discrimination from his squad mates.
White Boy Rick (2018)
Yann Demange’s electrifying crime biopic White Boy Rick explores the shocking rise and fall of Richard Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt), a teenage drug dealer who became an FBI informant before he reached adulthood. “Rick” is first introduced to the criminal underworld through the local gangster Johnny Curry, who Majors portrays with magnetic charisma. Like any veteran mob boss, Curry is initially kind and playful with his allies. As soon as Rick questions his loyalties, Curry becomes absolutely terrifying.
The Last Black Man In San Francisco (2019)
The role that truly put Majors on the map was his beautiful performance as Mont Allen in Joe Talbot’s Sundance breakthrough The Last Black Man In San Francisco. A study of gentrification, artistic resonance, and the depletion of art, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a work of visual poetry that holds emotional resonance thanks to the endearing onscreen friendship between Majors and his co-star Jimmie Fails.
This excellent boxing movie sadly fell under the radar; it features one of Charlie Hunnam’s best performances as Stanley Kaminski, a former criminal attempting to promote his brother Walter’s (Jack O’Connell) boxing career. Unfortunately, the Kaminski brothers face many dangers on their tour, including Stanley's old rival, the gangster Pepper (Majors). Once again, Majors brings a menacing presence through his delicate line delivery and domineering physical performance.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Spike Lee delivered one of his best films in decades with Da 5 Bloods, a shattering war drama about how the sins of the past continue to haunt us. No story in the film is as heartbreaking as that of Paul (Delroy Lindo), a former Vietnam veteran who has turned xenophobic and hateful in the years following his service. While his son David (Majors) and his attempts at affection are briefly able to mend Paul’s soul, the father-son reunion is disrupted by danger in the film’s heartbreaking conclusion.
Lovecraft Country (2020)
One of the most shocking cancellations in recent memory was HBO’s decision to cut Lovecraft Country, an ambitious science fiction horror drama that explored America’s racist past through an exciting genre story. Majors earned a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his performance as the show’s lead, Atticus Freeman, a former soldier who returns to his hometown for a road trip across the nation in search of his missing father (Michael K. Williams). While the show sometimes got more ambitious and bizarre than some viewers could handle, the emotional bond between Majors and the late great Williams always manages to ground it in something sincere.
While we’re waiting for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to see how Kang impacts the core MCU timeline, the Disney+ spinoff series Loki introduced to us a variant version of the character named Nathaniel Richards, who is also portrayed by Majors. In just a few episodes, Majors is able to make a ton of complex exposition sound compelling, and has a comedic spirit that rivals that of Tom Hiddleston.
The Harder They Fall (2021)
Jeymes Samuel’s electrifying Western action movie The Harder They Fall is a throwback to classic golden age gunslinger flicks, but revamped with an almost entirely black cast. Majors frontlines the story as Nat Love, an altruistic hero who agrees to track down the ruthless murderer Rufus Beck (Idris Elba). It’s a great showcase for everything that Majors can do; he’s tender in his romantic moments with Mary Fields (Zazie Beetz), humorous in his one-liners with Jim Beckwourth (RJ Cyler), and ruthless in the film’s epic final shootout.
Although there’s more interest in aviation combat than ever before thanks to the success of Top Gun: Maverick, Devotion takes a more serious approach to the subject by looking back at the heroes of America’s forgotten war. In the midst of a complex Cold War struggle and increased discrimination within the military, a friendship emerges between co-pilots Jesse Brown (Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) as they train together. The film is remarkable in that it doesn’t shy away from the realities these men face; they watch their friends die for battles that won’t be remembered. It’s a heartbreaking, yet inspiring story that’s brought to life by the magnetic chemistry between the leads.