If you can criticise Marvel Cinematic Universe for one thing, it is the lack of good villains. With the few exceptions like Loki and maybe Hela (despite Cate Blanchett’s superb performance, the character was thinly written), the films in MCU have suffered from weak, one-dimensional villains that are either a mirror image of the superheroes or uninteresting baddies who are bad just for the heck of it, without any actual motivation. The upcoming MCU movie, Black Panther, has lot riding on it since Michael B Jordan, who plays the primary villain, Erik Killmonger in the film, has said that his character is a different antagonist from other superhero movies and he too inspiration from Heath Ledger’s Joker.
So who, exactly, is Erik Killmonger? The character first made his appearance in Black Panther comics in 1973, and has remained a staple in Black Panther comics and his arch nemesis. Originally called N’Jadaka, when Ulysses Klaue (played in the film by Andy Serkis) invaded Wakanda, Black Panther and Erik Killmonger’s native country, he exhorted N’Jadaka’s father to join him, and he did. Klaue was defeated, though, and N’Jadaka ended up in New York. He was eventually repatriated to Wakanda, gave himself the name he is known for (Erik Killmonger), and planned a coup against the young king, T’Challa, better known as Black Panther.
That was the comic-book version. The Erik Killmonger of the upcoming film is slightly different. He appears to be an out-and-out American, judging by his accent that is distinctly Big Apple than other characters that speak in what is supposedly the Wakandan accent.
While speaking to CinemaBlend, Michael B Jordan explained how he is different from Wakandans, being an outsider. “It’s interesting because I’m not really associated with any of the Wakandans. I guess I’m the best representation of America? So, when it comes to getting into the characters from the offset, I’m kind of late in the game. This is the first project between me and Ryan where I wasn’t there from the very beginning. So, coming into the middle of shooting, not really being there from pre-production, and getting the chance to spend a lot of time with the cast and stuff like that actually works in my favor,” he said.
Also, he wears what is a variant of Black Panther suit, in brown as opposed to Black Panther’s sooty getup. His background is of a black ops soldier and he seems to be a match for T’Challa in terms of physical strength and agility. The young king has a formidable foe in his hands. He is also aided by Andy Serkis’s Ulysses Klaue in his attempts at taking over the throne of Wakanda, which makes the challenge all the more difficult.
Black Panther will hit theaters on February 16.