Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther, has revealed what happened to Killmonger's mother. Though the character does not make an appearance in the movie, Coogler confirmed the backstory on the commentary track for the Black Panther Blu-ray.
Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan) is already being considered one of the best villains in the MCU, if not the most accomplished. And, like most villains, his backstory is ripe with personal tragedies that set him on a nefarious path. While a significant role-defining moment regarding his father N'Jobu (played by Sterling K. Brown) is unveiled in the final cut of the movie, his mother's backstory was never officially revealed. In the movie, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) discovers that his father T'Chaka (played by John Kani, as well as his son Atandwa Kani in flashbacks) killed his own brother, Killmonger's father, due to a covert plan that risked exposing Wakanda's hidden community to the outside world. Coogler explains that a scene involving the mother's fate was hinted at, but never mentioned.
In the Black Panther Blu-ray commentary, Coogler revealed that Killmonger's Oakland-native mother not only inspired N'Jobu to expand Wakanda's natural Vibranium resources in order to help outside communities, she was ultimately imprisoned, though it's not explained why, according to THR. The opening scene of the movie involves N'Jobu and Zuri (played by Denzel Whitaker in this scene and flashbacks, and Forest Whitaker later on) creating a plan to break her out. Coogler said:
"The idea was when you see those guys talking over the paperwork in the beginning of the film, they're talking about a way to break her out of jail. The idea was they never got her out, and she passed away in prison, so Killmonger didn't come up with a mom either."
Coogler referred to the moment in which T'Challa discovers the truth concerning N'Jobu's fate as the most important scene in Black Panther. In that moment, it's revealed that T'Chaka not only killed his own brother, but abandoned his nephew, resulting in Killmonger's eventual rise to power. It also resulted in T'Challa discovering that his father was more flawed than he let on, helping T'Challa trust his own instincts as king and to not simply adhere to his father's legacy.
The MCU is no stranger to creating sympathetic villains. Both Loki and Hela were inspired by Odin's deceit and abandonment, respectively, while Ivan Vanko/Whiplash was exacting revenge on Howard Stark for deporting his father. Even Thanos, despite his genocidal agenda, is motivated by a "greater good" in some respects. So, even though Killmonger's ultimate pursuit to steal the Wakandan throne and arm the world with Vibranium weapons is conceivably wicked, it's rooted in the pursuit of justice.
Check out the commentary when Black Panther is released on Blu-ray May 15th.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019