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Black Panther, king of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, made his mighty cinematic debut in Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa (to use his real name) is now stepping out to be the hero in his very own highly-anticipated solo film, starring an impressive cast that includes Chadwick Boseman as the titular character and Creed’s Michael B. Jordan as the villain Erik Killmonger. Director Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) has promised fans a fresh film that will stick close to its comic book roots and African culture.
In short, Killmonger is a major threat, being a powerful warrior and strategic genius in politics and economics, who will stop at nothing to have the kingdom of Wakanda for his own. He's an expert fighter and both a physical and mental match for his nemesis, the Black Panther. Let's dig a bit deeper into Erik Killmonger's comic book roots and figure out exactly what Black Panther will be up against.
MAJOR STORY ARCS
Killmonger first appeared in the book Jungle Action Vol. 2 #6 in 1973. A native of Wakanda, he was born under the name N’Jadaka. Ulysses Klaw, a physicist and Nazi war criminal trying to steal Wakanda's vibranium resource (who met in Avengers: Age of Ultron), forced Killmonger’s father to join his mercenaries to attack Wakanda.
When Klaw was ultimately defeated, Killmonger’s father died and his family was exiled to a small village by T’Challa. During his time in exile, Killmonger trained hard to become powerful warrior and genius within the tech realm by studying at M.I.T. While attending M.I.T., his carnal hatred for both Klaw and T'Challa grew into complete rage. After he received his PhD in Engineering, he eventually contacted King T’Challa and was repatriated back to Wakanda, settling in a village that would later change its name to N’Jadaka Village in his honor.
Erik then took advantage of Black Panther’s frequent absences in America with the Avengers to stage a coup d’état. Killmonger dedicated his time to the overthrow of T'Challa's government. He ravaged several villages to attract the Black Panther's attention. When confronted by T'Challa, Killmonger dismissed the African Prince, having T'Challa fight against his leopard Preyy, White Gorilla, Sombre and King Cadaver. In his continuous efforts to take Wakanda, T'Challa eventually killed Killmonger... or so he thought.
Turns out, Killmonger's body was taken by Mandarin who then resurrected him back to form with his special rings. In Wakanda, a warehouse containing Stark Industries' energy hologram crystallography equipment was destroyed, which brought Iron Man to town and got Rhodey kidnapped by Madame Slay. Tony Stark and T'Challa staged a body double scenario in which everyone thought Black Panther was dead at the hands of Killmonger. After the fake funeral, Killmonger took the Black Panther mantle for himself. Meanwhile T'Challa and Tony Stark snuck back into his home, and a battle ensued. As the heroes gained the upper hand, Madame Slay revealed she was holding Rhodey captive. Iron Man set off a cyclotron and rescued Rhodey, while Black Panther killed Killmonger once again, leaving a bag of bones behind... or so he thought.
Again, Killmonger was resurrected, this time with another plan to takeover the throne. With the absence of T'Challa, Everett Ross was appointed temporary regent of the country. Killmonger tried to usurp the leadership by exploiting the economy. He challenged T'Challa to the leadership ritual of combat and, surprisingly, Killmonger defeated Black Panther on his own, earning the crown. He remained ruler of Wakanda for some time and even attempted to join the Avengers in T'Challa's place. However, when he consumed the Heart-Shaped Herb that was his right as king, his body reacted badly, leaving him in a coma. Apparently the herb is poisonous to those who are not of the royal bloodline.
POWERS AND ABILITIES
Along with being a highly-trained warrior, Killmonger synthetically modified the Heart-Shaped Herb and used it to his advantage, gaining superhuman-like abilities:
Killmonger has access to some seriously strange equipment that he often uses to his advantage while in battle with Black Panther:
Now that you know a bit more about Killmonger, it should be clear that he is a great villain to include in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, promising to give Boseman's hero a run for his money using both his strength and his intellect. While Marvel movies are often criticized for having weak villains, hopefully Jordan will present an antagonist who is just as rich and interesting a character as T'Challa himself.
Marvel story Black Panther series: Who is Erik Killmonger?
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