Black Panther has been out for six days and it has broken box-office records left and right and is the best rated superhero film of all time at a stunning 97% Rotten Tomatoes score which isn’t surprising. The movie is good!!! When I came out of that movie theater five days ago I had embarked on a cinematic journey that I never thought I would ever experience and it is still impacting me to this day. There are great movies and then there are perfect movies. Black Panther was practically perfect and one of the reasons why it was such a fantastically enjoyable film is because of its villain, Erik Killmonger.
Minor Spoilers Ahead! If you haven’t seen this movie yet and you would rather go into the movie clean of any details of the film I suggest you read no further. I thank you for heeding this warning and I hope you enjoy the rest of the post.
Have you ever seen a movie where its main villain doesn’t appear until halfway through the film and yet he still manages to make such an impact that it doesn’t even matter?! Well, meet Erik Killmonger.
This movie’s slow introduction to the film’s main antagonist was one of the greatest reveals I’ve ever seen in a movie. Erik Killmonger appeared briefly in the beginning of the movie but at the time he was a sidekick, a nameless individual who you didn’t know or exactly care about. Fast forward about forty-fifty minutes later and he’s the boss of the film. When he shows up in the movie he shows up! Oh my gosh, he came roaring into the film harder than any villain I’ve seen in a movie. Events started happening so quickly that the movie’s decency went from a 10 to a whopping fifteen in quality, that’s how much of an impact he had on the movie’s story.
Marvel is a wonderful franchise but they have had a terrible villain problem. Nearly every villain except a few are used as merely stepping-stones for the heroes rather than having antagonists that’ll change events and alter storylines, providing a long-term effect in future films.
Take Zemo for example in Captain America: Civil War. His dastardly plan to inflict conflict in the ranks of the Avengers succeeded and now they’re broken into what seems like unbreakable factions within the superhero group. We may never see Iron Man and Captain America participate in a friendly conversation again. That makes Zemo a great villain.
And then you have Malekith from Thor: The Dark World who was so cliche and boring of a character that whenever he showed up in the movie I was less than interested. He wanted to take over the universe but why exactly, I don’t remember. And he looked terrible too. Ugh, worst Marvel villain ever. Erik Killmonger is not that type of antagonist in the slightest.
Up to this point Michael Keaton’s Mr. Toomes/The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming was my favorite Marvel villain because he was the most relatable. In his mind he wasn’t the bad guy. He was just a man trying to make ends meet for his family and he was willing to do anything, even conduct an illegal weapons deal operation, to provide that for them. That’s not a useless, one-tracked mind villain and I felt for him. Of course I’m going to root for Spider Man but I understood The Vulture’s side of the story as well. Erik Killmonger did the same thing for me.
Before I saw the film I had heard some critics say Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal as Erik Killmonger was on par with Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight and I was surprised. In the trailers he didn’t convey an iconic villain performance but after watching the movie I understand why they presented him with such high praise. He made cry, he made me angry, he made me scared for the protagonists, and he made the movie, which was already really good before he showed up, really, really good.
When he appeared in the film things got real super fast and it was a shocking development in the movie. In fact, in my spoiler-free review of Black Panther I said I nearly burst into tears at least five times in the movie and that was after Erik Killmonger showed up because most of the tears I wanted to shed had something to do with his side of the story.
The only movie I’ve seen with Michael B. Jordan is Creed but after Black Panther I have become an immediate fan of his, that’s how amazing of a job he did as the villain in this film. He made this villain come to life and he brought so much emotion to the movie that I can’t imagine the movie without him.
I named this post, A New King Has Been Crowned…and It Isn’t T’Challa, because while T’Challa is a fabulous character because, well, he’s Black Panther, without the arrival of Erik Killmonger his story wouldn’t be complete. Killmonger came into the movie and turned everything upside down, a point that was literally shown in one scene of the film. He helped give that movie its 97% rating and he helped turn it from a regular superhero movie into an instant iconic movie.
He is undoubtedly the greatest Marvel villain there has been so far and he has raised such a high bar that I don’t even think Thanos will be able to match it, let alone surpass it. And if he does Avengers: Infinity War is going to be one of the best movies that I’ve ever seen, period.
He is king of this film and the impact he left on the Marvel Cinematic Universe will live on beyond his involvement in this movie. His story was also super relatable too. I mean at times, the protagonists looked the bad guys while he seemed to be the hero of the film. I love a villain that comes into a movie and shakes things up and he definitely did that.
If Erik Killmonger is a sign of villains to come in this next phase of Marvel movies then these films are going to become so good it’ll probably surpass Star Wars in epicness and I will be a very happy young woman.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day. Wakanda Forever.