This Villain was Headlined on February, 2021.
- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Erik Killmonger from the Marvel Cinematic film series. The mainstream version can be found here: Erik Killmonger.
|“||I lived my entire life waitin' for this moment. I trained, I lied, I killed just to get here. I killed in America, Afghanistan, Iraq... I took life from my own brothers and sisters right here on this continent! And all this death just so I could kill you!||„|
|~ Erik Killmonger to King T'Challa, about his own reasons of mass murder and refusal to talk.|
N'Jadaka, also better known by his legal name Erik Stevens and his nickname Killmonger, is the main antagonist of the 2018 Marvel film Black Panther.
He was an African-American black-ops operative-turned-opportunistic revolutionary and the son of N'Jobu who planned to overthrow his cousin King T'Challa just so that he could take over the Wakandan kingdom and distribute vibranium weaponry worldwide to avenge the death and goals of his father.
N'Jadaka started off as the son of Prince N'Jobu and an unnamed American woman, being raised within Oakland, California in America. N'Jobu promised to N'Jadaka that he would visit their homeland Wakanda, claiming that the sunsets there were the most beautiful in the world. However, N'Jobu witnessed the suffering of African-Americans in the community, even being upset to witness N'Jadaka's mother being wrongfully arrested and sent to prison for life. Because of this, N'Jobu decides to initiate a global revolution to put an end to the suffering. To do so, he betrayed his brother T'Chaka (the King of Wakanda) by letting Ulysses Klaue steal some vibranium which resulted the deaths of several Wakandans; even attempting to use the stolen vibranium to free N'Jadaka's mother out of prison so that they can start a new fresh life with N'Jadaka following the imminent revolution.
However, T'Chaka learned about N'Jobu's treason and forced himself to kill N'Jobu to save his closest friend Zuri who served as his spy. At the same time, N'Jadaka was playing basketball with his friends until he found his father's body, which left him in tears just as T'Chaka and Zuri returned back to Wakanda while N'Jadaka's mother died following her remaining days in prison. Orphaned and left alone in the streets, N'Jadaka angrily vowed to avenge his family's demise and continue on with his father's plot.
Taking on the name Erik Stevens, he grew up to be a U.S. Navy SEAL officer and black ops mercenary, and his incredibly high body count earned him the nickname "Killmonger".
Several days following the death of T'Chaka and the arrest of Helmut Zemo (the man responsible for T'Chaka's death), Killmonger is first seen visiting a national weapons of offense and defense exhibit at the Museum of Great Britain, observing several African artifacts. He joins in a conversation with a museum curator, whom he confuses and disturbs by telling her that one of the artifacts is made out of vibranium, and that he will take it off her hands. The curator threatens to call security, but Killmonger casually remarks how the guards are watching him every second, yet she is not watching what she is drinking, and the curator falls down, having been poisoned by a barista named Linda, who happens to be Killmonger's girlfriend and partner-in-crime. In the confusion, Klaue and his minions, disguised as paramedics, arrive and kill all of the guards in the room, while Linda hacks the cameras to prevent any more security from arriving. Killmonger, Klaue and Linbani then escape the museum with the vibranium in an ambulance driven by Linda, Klaw planning to sell it to a buyer in an underground casino in Busan, South Korea. However, Klaue is captured and brought into a high-security prison by the Wakandans and Agent Ross.
Despite the setback, Killmonger managed to formulate a plan to rescue Klaue from custody, which forced T'Challa to the scene, eventually learning about his true relationship with Killmonger after noticing the Wakandan royal ring that Killmonger was wearing on a necklace chain. Killmonger manages to free Klaue, only to betray and kill him, Linda and Linbani for a purpose to get into Wakanda. He offers Klaue's body as an offering in order to sneak inside for the throne, with the help from T'Challa's treacherous best friend W'Kabi, who is disappointed over T'Challa's failed attempt to bring Klaue to justice (since Klaue was responsible for the death of W'Kabi's parents). With the opportunity finally in his hand, Killmonger challenged T'Challa to a duel for the throne of Wakanda and won (as T'Challa was forced to strip his powers to make the duel fair). A triumphant Killmonger then proceeded to kill Zuri by impaling him with his own iron spear staff before throwing a defeated T'Challa within the waterfalls of Wakanda to his seeming demise. Killmonger then proudly declares himself as the new king of Wakanda and that everyone will answer to him from now on.
|“||All that challenge s**t is over with. I'm the king now.||„|
|~ "King" Killmonger to T'Challa upon the true Wakandan king's triumphant return.|
Having become the king of Wakanda, Killmonger also gained the power of the Black Panther during a ritual. Immediately after the transformation, Killmonger ordered the herb garden to be burned so that he would be the last to hold the power of the Black Panther. From Shuri's laboratory, Killmonger also received one of the upgraded Panther Habits.
With all of Wakanda finally under his iron fist, Killmonger proceeded to prepare shipments of Wakandan weapons to be distributed to operatives around the world to finish up what his father started. Fortunately, T'Challa was rescued by the Jabari Tribe (led by M'Baku, who was indebted towards T'Challa for sparing his life), and healed with a powerful herb smuggled by Nakia in which she secretly obtained it before Killmonger furiously instructs the servants to burn it. As such, T'Challa and the Jabari Tribe conspired to overthrow Killmonger and stop the shipments.
As the Dora Milaje and Jabari Tribe engaged in a battle against W'Kabi and his army, Killmonger dons his new battle suit to engage into another battle against T'Challa inside Wakanda's vibranium mine. However, T'Challa defeats Killmonger by disrupting his battle suit using a sonic mining technology and fatally stabbing him just as W'Kabi and his remaining men are forced to surrender. Despite being mortally injured, Killmonger gains a genuine respect for T'Challa and calls the final blow one "hell of a move." He laments that his father had always promised to show him how amazing the Wakandan country was, and T'Challa decides to honor his opponent's request.
Being transported to the breathtaking view of the capital during sunset, Killmonger commented on its beauty. T'Challa, feeling remorse for what Killmonger had become, says that they might still be able to heal him, but Killmonger chooses to die rather than getting cured and imprisoned in disgrace for his crimes, asking T'Challa to bury him at sea with his ancestors who jumped from ships, believing that "death was better than bondage." Killmonger looks at the sun one last time as he finishes himself off by pulling the spear out of his chest, sharing his final moments with his cousin before willingly succumbing to his blood loss. T'Challa presumably honors his request to bury him at sea.
|“||Why, so you can lock me up? Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships, 'cause they knew death was better than bondage.||„|
|~ Killmonger's final words before he commits suicide after he refuses to be healed by T'Challa.|
Before the final battle, T'Challa realized that Killmonger became a ruthless, cruel and power-hungry monster because of his own father's actions. Being the good man that he is, T'Challa decides to reveal some of Wakanda's truths and secrets to help people. Although this was never part of his plan, Erik Killmonger's attack on Wakanda gave T'Challa the choice to help the world and people that are outside of Wakanda's borders.
Killmonger would have been imprisoned as a punishment for his crimes, but T'Challa also offered to heal him and help him. The king of Wakanda felt bad for Killmonger and wanted him to live so he could see a better way to fix problems rather than using hate, war, and violence. But he wanted to die rather than be a prisoner because if he let the Wakandans heal him, they never would have let him out of prison until he redeemed himself for what he has done.
|“||Your heart is so full of hatred!! You are not fit to be a king!||„|
|~ Okoye angrily commending over Killmonger's nature.|
Erik is shown to be power-hungry, cruel, and ruthless in general, determined to take over Wakanda and rule it in his own image. He is also arrogant and sadistic in nature as he marked his body with scars to mark how many people he killed in the past, He also shows no care to his own allies; this was shown when he betrayed his girlfriend Linda by shooting her so that he can take down Klaue, considering the fact that both of them were working with him.
However, this power-hungry nature was only due to the fact that the royal Wakandan family abandoned Erik following his father's death and his mother's wrongful incarceration, as it led him to fend for himself in the streets and become a ruthless assassin. Other than trying to take over Wakanda, Erik genuinely believed that he intends to give the poor and oppressed people the power to change the world, as evidenced by his new plan to supply vibranium weapons to all Wakandan spies around the world so that they can take action against those who oppressed them. However, he is considered to be hypocritical in nature as his beliefs mirrored those who oppressed his people; even when T'Challa furiously points this out while stating that Erik's plan would bring more bloodshed and chaos to the world, Erik angrily claims that the world deserves such a horrible fate in revenge for his poor upbringing.
Despite his power-hungry nature, Erik took solace in seeing a sunset in Wakanda following his defeat by T'Challa, even willingly committing suicide by stating that he rather be buried in sea instead of being cured and locked away in prison for life. This event is what also led T'Challa (who shows remorse for what has happened to Erik) to change his mind about keeping Wakanda's secrets isolated from the world.
|“||How do you think your ancestors got these? Do you think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it, like they took everything else?||„|
|~ Killmonger to a British museum curator while she unknowingly died from poisoning in her coffee drink as part of Ulysses Klaue's heist.|
|“||Y'all're sitting up here all comfortable. Must feel good. There's about two billion people around the world who look like us and their lives are a lot harder. Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all.||„|
|~ Killmonger to the Wakandan
|“||I'ma take you both, Uncle James!||„|
|~ Killmonger before killing Zuri.|
|“||Is this your king? Huh? Is this your king? The Black Panther, who's supposed to lead you into the future? Him? He's supposed to protect you? Nah. I'm your king.||„|
|~ Killmonger upon defeating T'Challa.|
|“||Everybody dies. It's just part of life around here.||„|
|~ Killmonger to N'Jobu.|
|“||It's time they know the truth about us! We're warriors! The world's gonna start over, and this time, we're on top! The sun will never set on the Wakandan empire.||„|
|~ Killmonger to the Tribal Council.|
|“||The world took everything away from me! Everything I ever loved! But I'mma make sure we're even. And I'mma track down anyone who would even think of being loyal to you! And I'll put their ass in the dirt, right next to Zuri!||„|
|~ Killmonger to T'Challa during their fight.|
- Golden Tribe
- Bashenga † - Ancestor
- Azzuri † - Grandfather
- N'Jobu † - Father
- Unnamed mother †
- T'Chaka † - Uncle
- Ramonda - Aunt-by-marriage
- T'Challa/Black Panther - Cousin, attempted victim and killer
- Shuri - Cousin and attempted Victim
- Border Tribe
- Ulysses Klaue † - Situational Ally turned Victim
- Dora Milaje
- Okoye - Situational Ally turned Enemy and Attempted Victim
- Xoliswa † - Victim
- Nakia - Attempted Victim
- Zuri † - Friend turned Victim
- Everett Ross - Attempted Victim
- Linda † - Lover turned Victim
- Linbani † - Associate turned Victim
Michael B. Jordan's portrayal of Killmonger has been praised by audiences and critics alike. The main reason for the praise is how believable and even realistic Killmonger is in the movie, even more so when comparing him to other MCU villains.
Chris Stuckmann has stated that "Beyond the fact that Jordan gives a charismatic performance that's one of my favorite Marvel villains thus far and the best since Loki, the reason his villain is so good is because, just like all great movie villains, their appearance in the film is what causes the heroes to look within themselves and realize their weaknesses".
Another reason for Killmonger's reception is how similar he is to his comic counterpart. Villains like Hela may have the same name and appearance, but other than that, they are almost two completely different characters. Killmonger shares a similar motivation as well as personality in the film when comparing it to his comic counterpart.
Michael B. Jordan also received award nominations for his performance, a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor and an MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Villain.
- Killmonger's scarification markings on his chest and torso resemble that of the Mursi and Surma tribes.
- Michael B. Jordan had always wanted to play as a villain for a while, so he was likely very eager to play Killmonger when the role was given to him.
- Michael B. Jordan previously played a superhero from Marvel comics, as he played The Human Torch in the 2015 film Fantastic Four.
- Killmonger is the third main villain to be killed by the titular protagonists, the first being Ronan the Accuser and the second was Yellowjacket.
- There were rumors that Killmonger would return in Black Panther II in the ancestral plane, but Kevin Feige affirmed that the rumors were false.
- Killmonger is one of the seven villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to succeed in their plans, get Wakanda to distribute the Vibranium around the world to help people (the others being Loki, Thanos, Helmut Zemo, Surtur, Ghost, and Mysterio). Despite having succeeded, he is defeated by Black Panther in the end.
- The Panther Habit that Killmonger wears may likely be a reference to certain comic book designs for Black Panther where he was fitted with gold metals, such as Christopher Priest's and the Urban Jungle. Though this may also be a coincidence.