It’s not exactly a secret that the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t known for its villains. There have been exceptions though, particularly on the Netflix shows, but ‘Black Panther’ may have given us the most striking exception of all in the form of Erik Killmonger. A singularly sympathetic figure among Marvel’s pantheon of evildoers, Killmonger has proved to be such a well-developed character that some fans have even found themselves wondering if he is, indeed, a villain.
It’s not just fans, either. In the weeks since the film’s release, the cast and producers have jumped into the debate as well, sharing their perspectives. Speaking with ABC, Sterling K. Brown, who appears in the film as the character’s father N’Jobu, comes down firmly on the side of “villain”:
“He’s a villain because, while his intentions, and N’Jobu’s intentions for that fact, are honorable, they didn’t necessarily go about it [in a way] that would actually bring about the change that they want.”
Killmonger’s goal, for those who may need a quick refresher, was to claim the throne and use advanced Wakandan weaponry to arm disenfranchised populations around the world. So yeah, road to hell, good intentions, all that. Brown continues:
“He wasn’t trying to create a legacy. He was like “I want this for myself.” That’s where the intention gets confused with personal ambition, but what he was able to illuminate… is that he is not without a point.”
And at the end of the day, that’s what all truly great villains have in common. Not a mustache they can twirl, but a certain measure of sympathy, perhaps even good intentions with profoundly flawed methods.
Helmed by ‘Creed’ director Ryan Coogler, ‘Black Panther’ marks the eighteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film, which stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis, is now playing in theaters.