Casting news for the upcoming Black Panther movie is rolling in at an unprecedented speed. Thanks in large part to Chadwick Boseman’s fantastic portrayal of the titular character in Civil War, audiences are eager to see more of the Black Panther, also known as King T’Challa of Wakanda. What’s more, the news that the movie will feature a predominantly African or African-American cast is exceptionally exciting for those who have been eager to see more diversity in modern Hollywood.
Celebrated actor Michael B. Jordan — known for his roles in Creed, Fruitvale Station, and as Johnny Storm in the recent Fantastic Four reboot — has now been confirmed as having a starring role in the Black Panther movie. Rumors suggest that he might be playing a villain, although this hasn’t been officially confirmed by Marvel at this point.
So who could Jordan be playing? There are plenty of villains in T’Challa’s rogues gallery that would be a perfect fit for the 29 year old, but there are also more than a few heroic characters either from Black Panther lore or from the wider Marvel universe that would suit the rising star's talents. Here are twelve Marvel comics characters that Michael B. Jordan might play in the upcoming Black Panther movie.
Warning: Minor Civil War SPOILERS lie ahead.
13 White Wolf
Considering the direction the MCU has taken with many of its properties, often working hard to pit superheroes against villains that complement not only their powers, but also their ideology, White Wolf is the perfect fit for the Black Panther movie.
In the comics, Hunter is the adopted son of T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda and the father of T’Challa. Feeling cheated when T’Challa ascends to the throne, Hunter takes on the superhuman persona of the White Wolf, fighting against the Black Panther with a very similar skillset.
The only problem with this character is that his backstory is, if anything, a little too perfect for the MCU. The idea of an adopted brother going rogue after being passed over as king is also the story of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and from what fans have gleaned about Chiwetel Ejiofor’s role as Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange, his character might similarly follow a similar arc, moving from ally to adversary when he’s not granted the role of Sorcerer Supreme. Adding yet another spurned step-sibling to the MCU might not be the best direction to go.
While rumors are circulating that Michael B. Jordan will play a villain in Black Panther, at the moment this hasn’t been confirmed by anyone official at Marvel, and there’s every chance that Jordan will be playing one of T’Challa’s allies.
If Jordan is going to be a hero, the best choice is W’Kabi, T’Challa’s trusted advisor and the head of the Wakandan security. When T’Challa’s away being a hero, it’s W’Kabi that’s left in charge, meaning that in the MCU, the character could play a similar role to War Machine or Falcon, as a sort of modern sidekick for the main hero who, while not as impressive as the character headlining the show, is also pretty cool in his own way.
Whether Marvel chooses to go this way with such a bankable actor is debatable, but it would certainly go some way to fleshing out the nation of Wakanda to put Jordan in a serious role as a member of T’Challa’s inner circle. We do feel that Jordan would make for an excellent villain though, so might this part be a possibility for John Boyega?
While M’Baku is more commonly known as ‘Man-Ape’ in the comics, we have to imagine that this particular name is probably a bridge too far in terms of what Marvel will feel that the MCU can get away with. M’Baku is a warrior from the White Gorilla cult that was in initially banned by the Black Panther for its emphasis on kratocracy (government by the strongest), and much of the conflict between T’Challa and M’Baku in the comics comes from the difference in ideology between the two characters.
M’Baku is a proponent of Wakanda’s history as tribal warriors and hunters, while T’Challa has embraced the country’s technological revolution and the development of vibranium. The two characters therefore represent the two sides of a developing country and the challenges that come from industrial revolution, making for an interesting battle of ideology at the core of what is essentially a struggle for power over the kingdom. Based on Michael B. Jordan’s previous roles, it’s likely that he’d be able to do a good job of delivering a nuanced performance as an antagonist who isn’t necessarily wrong in his desires, but rather reflects a different side of Wakandan culture.
10 Reverend Achebe
The Wakandan throne is a popular source of conflict in the Black Panther comics. Another villain who has in the past tried to gain control of the kingdom is Achebe, an overly cheerful man who, while looking relatively harmless (if a little creepy), is a skilled manipulator, causing a chain of chaotic events that allows him to wreak destruction in his quest to rule Wakanda.
In practice, while Achebe’s backstory involves some supernatural elements (such as his selling his soul to Mephisto), the character is sometimes viewed as Marvel’s answer to the Joker: after all, his permanent grin hides true malice beneath the surface, which he enacts through bringing nations to war against each other.
It would be interesting to see Michael B. Jordan in a role as a scheming manipulator. While the idea of him playing a creepy, smiling villain may not mesh with his previous roles, one thing that recent incarnations of the Joker have proven is that there’s room for even the biggest Hollywood heartthrobs to terrify audiences with the right approach.
9 Erik Killmonger
Another character with more than a few similarities to the Black Panther himself, Killmonger is a likely choice for the upcoming movie, especially as his story ties in with Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis' character from Age of Ultron), a villain that’s already confirmed for the film.
Originally known as N’Jadaka, Killmonger took on a new name after his family was exiled from Wakanda and came to settle in Harlem thanks to working alongside Klaw. Granted powers comparable to those of the Black Panther through a synthetic version of the herb that gave T’Challa his own abilities, Killmonger provides a physical adversary that would work nicely alongside the MCU’s approach to Klaw. This would be an excellent role for Jordan, as it’d both make use of his physical capabilities and his skills as an actor to create an enemy worthy of Chadwick Boseman’s take on Black Panther.
We'd previously tapped Omar Sy as our dream pick for this role, but Jordan would be an inspired choice as well.
T’Challa’s half-brother, Jakarra is another comic book character with ambitions to take the throne of Wakanda. Where Jakarra separates himself from the pack, though, is in his dedication to becoming as fierce and strong as possible.
Learning that extended exposure to vibranium can in some cases grant mutagenic superpowers, Jakarra deliberately attempted to use the rare metal to augment his own abilities. This plan succeeded, but not without consequences – Jakarra mutated into a large monster similar to the Hulk or Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing.
As a Fantastic Four alumni, it would be really interesting to see Michael B. Jordan take on this role – essentially moving from playing Johnny Storm to take on a character not unlike the Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew (looks-wise, anyway). It’d certainly be unique to see a darker take on such an iconic character, and as someone who’s already handled one member of Marvel’s First Family, it’d be fun to see Jordan in this role.
7 Salamander K’Ruel
An alternative mutated adversary that King T’Challa has faced in the past in the comics is somewhat less notable, but has just as much potential to shape the next chapter in the MCU. Salamander K’Ruel started life in the comics as an underling to Erik Killmonger, chosen for his particular skill as an archer and a hunter before exposure to large quantities of vibranium caused K’Ruel to mutate, developing poisonous barbs all over his body.
This is a bit of a throwaway character for someone of Michael B. Jordan’s stature, but giving the actor a side character to play with would allow for a drastically different approach to what’s been seen in Marvel movies up to this point without the inherent baggage of adapting a significant character for the big screen. It wouldn’t be the first time a relatively minor Marvel character ended up with a significant role in the MCU, and there’s no doubt Jordan could do wonders with a relatively blank slate.
More commonly known as the Lion God, Sekhmet is a deity ripped straight from Egyptian mythology, much as Thor, Loki, and Odin come from Norse traditions. The Lion God has tangled with Black Panther on multiple occasions, out of Sekhmet’s desire to learn the secrets of what he calls the "Panther God."
Such a character wouldn’t be completely out of place in the MCU. so long as the Lion God of Egypt can be explained through similar logic to the existence of Asgard. Sekhmet is even briefly name-dropped in Civil War, when T’Challa explains his culture’s approach to death and the afterlife, which would be a fun bit of foreshadowing for fans if the Lion God did appear in a future film. This is no doubt a role that Michael B. Jordan could do wonders with – characters like Heimdall and Odin have shown that an actor with the right gravitas can create believable yet fantastical godly figures within the MCU.
Sekhmet is, however, depicted as a goddess in both the pages of Marvel Comics and in Egyptian Mythology. Lupita Nyong'o probably has a better shot at this role than Jordan does.
5 White Tiger
While most of the characters on this list come from the African side of the Black Panther character roster, it’s worth noting that a great number of the comics featuring T’Challa center around the duality of his role both as a king and as a superhero, whose powers are best made use of in the more familiar setting (to comic readers) of New York. At different times, T’Challa has even lived under an assumed name in New York to pursue his heroic duties.
One character that T’Challa has had multiple dealings with in New York is Kevin Cole, a narcotics cop with a strong desire to help those around him while supporting his family. At one point in the comics, Cole briefly took on the mantle of Black Panther to better pursue criminals, before settling on the new superhero identity of White Tiger.
Giving Michael B. Jordan a role as an American, specifically a New Yorker, would go a long way to solving the potential issue of grounding in a story that revolves around the king of a fictional world. Marvel has felt the need to set both Thor movies on Earth, and US ‘80s pop culture is crucial to the sympathy that audiences feel to Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy. Giving Black Panther a grounded New York group of allies would help the movie feel more accessible to audiences and would better tie things in to the MCU as a whole.
4 Brother Voodoo
While not a character that’s usually connected to Black Panther in the comics on a regular basis, Brother Voodoo has had dealings with T’Challa in the past, and would be a great way to connect two sides of the MCU’s Phase Three. Brother Voodoo is a mystical sorcerer not unlike Doctor Strange – in fact, the character once took over the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme for a time. This connection could help to tie together the new magical elements of the MCU with its science fiction elements, and could go some way to introducing more links between the upcoming generation of Marvel heroes.
How would Michael B Jordan fit into the role? In the comics, Doctor Voodoo, while of Haitian origin, is educated in New York. As such, Jordan would have the option of playing the role as a savvy New Yorker, or a character who hails from the former French colony. Either way, there’d be plenty for Jordan to do with this character, and he could well appear in future movies alongside the Avengers.
3 American Panther
The character of the American Panther isn’t all that well-known within the Marvel comics universe. Fans know very little about his origin or true identity, except that his father was murdered by his mother’s secret lover but was never convicted of the crime. In a thirst for justice, the American Panther began training as a vigilante in addition to working as a New York cop. After being persuaded by the villainous Hate-Monger to see Black Panther as an adversary, the American Panther has shown up a few times to cause trouble for T’Challa.
With such a blank slate to work with, it’s possible that the American Panther, whose true name is a mystery in the comics, could be a character that the Black Panther movie could take some liberties with to create a unique villain for the film. Were this to prove the case, Jordan could make the role his own, free from the baggage of a lengthy history of comic book continuity.
2 Moon Knight
Often characterized by his critics as being little more than a Marvel version of Batman, Moon Knight is actually a very complex character whose stories have often won critical acclaim from the comic book community. A former boxer, US marine and mercenary, Marc Spector is granted supernatural powers in the comics from the Egyptian god Khonshu, which he uses to inflict vengeance upon those who break the law, in spite of (and in part due to) suffering from a deteriorating mental illness.
Rumors are currently circulating which suggest that Moon Knight, along with Blade and Ghost Rider, might be the next few characters to get their own Netflix shows. But if such rumors are ultimately proven baseless (as it's unlikely an up-and-coming potential A-Lister would commit to a full-length superhero series), an actor of Michael B. Jordan’s clout would definitely be an ideal match for such a complex and nuanced character. Introducing him in Black Panther would be a good fit, perhaps as a pseudo-antagonist, before giving Jordan a larger role in future MCU movies.
There are a lot of characters within the world of Black Panther that could be a perfect fit for an actor as talented as Michael B. Jordan. Whether he'll appear as a hero, a villain, or somewhere in between, there’s plenty of inspiration in the comics to draw from.
It’s also possible, of course, that Jordan could play a role that’s created entirely from scratch for the movie – this has happened in the MCU before, so it wouldn’t be too surprising. Whatever happens, though, there’s plenty to look forward to in the upcoming film.
What character do you think Michael B. Jordan will play? Share your thoughts in the comments section.