Black Panther villain Erik Killmonger took some inspiration from characters like Heath Ledger’s Joker, according to Michael B. Jordan. The solo Marvel superhero film stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, who fans first met back in Captain America: Civil War. The film will kickoff the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s monumental 1oth year, at the same time that it pulls back the curtain on the high-tech nation of Wakanda and its people.
Reuniting with director Ryan Coogler for the third time after their critically acclaimed collaborations on Fruitvale Station and Creed, Jordan is set to play one of the villains of the upcoming Marvel Studios project. Based solely on what the actor has said about the character, Killmonger is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing MCU big bads to date. That’s good news, considering the franchise has long been criticized for coming up short in the bad guy department.
As part of Empire’s cover feature for Black Panther, Jordan opened up about his process for bringing a villain like Killmonger to life on the big screen. The actor said that the role took a toll on him emotionally and mentally, but that he had a lot of fun making it thanks to his great dynamic with Boseman. It seems that he also mined inspiration from other memorable comic book movie antagonists, including Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, as well as X-Men’s Magneto:
“You see performances as an actor, and as a fan – you look at Heath Ledger’s performance, say, in The Dark Knight, and it’s like, “Wow”. I want to try to get something like that. You want Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. Just trying to find my place amongst those roles, and strive for that, even if I don’t make it.”
Not much has been revealed about Jordan’s version of Killmonger yet; including, whether he will have the same backstory that he does in the comics. It appears that he will have a personal grudge against Wakanda and its people, seeing as he teams up in the film with Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue (whose main goal is to expose the country’s hypocrisy). Judging by the Creed actor’s comments, it sounds like his character will also be a departure from the typical two-dimensional MCU villain.
Drawing inspiration from two of the most iconic superhero antagonists certainly sounds like a good approach for Jordan to take. Whereas Ledger’s Joker stands out purely for his magnetic (and evil) screen presence, Magneto, on the other hand, is more complex due to his troubled past. While he has done a lot of unspeakable things, most of the time, Magneto comes around and opts to choose to do the right thing, especially when people that he cares about are in peril. Could this hint at a similar redemption arc for Killmonger in Black Panther? Boseman has indicated that Klaue being the real villain of the movie, after all.
Hopefully, with Black Panther being the third time that Jordan and Coogler having worked together now, the film will be able to deliver an antagonist to remember in the form of Killmonger.
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