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Nov 4, 2021

This Is Why Eric Killmonger Is Best Superhero Villain Since Heath Ledger’s Joker


A common drawback seen in most super hero movies is their lackluster villains and overload of CGI based explosions and invasions which make no sense at times.

The superhero films that stand out are the ones where the villain is so charismatic, he leaves a lasting impression on the audience more than the hero.

Take for example, in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s Joker evoked immense dramatic tension in the audience not only for his heinous crimes against Gotham but the psychological mania behind his masterplans.

Here lies the true aim a writer is trying to achieve when creating the character of the villain, most often failing when trying too hard.

Since Ledger’s Joker in 2008, we’ve seen many villains come and go, but none had the quality of the villain which even came close to lighting a candle to Ledgers.

Except now…

That villain is Eric Killmonger, from Marvel’s Black Panther, whose tragic backstory almost makes you wish you’d want him to be the good guy and win.

Michael B. Jordan’s magnetic performance as exiled Prince N’Jadaka is a worthy competitor for Heath Ledgers Joker and might even surpass Ledger.

His performance transcends all that we look for in a villainous character that would otherwise be cast aside as forgettable.

Prince N’jadaka or Eric as he is known in Oakland California is a royal heir who is unwillingly orphaned by his Uncle T’Chaka and ostracised as a child.

This abandonment at a young age leads him to become a radical assassin who seeks revenge for his exile against the newly crowned Panther, his cousin T’Challa.

Jordan’s acting has multiple layers of rage, arrogance, revenge, and determination.

Outwardly, Killmonger brims with swagger and self-confidence while inwardly; we see his anguish in trying to avenge his father’s death.

There is a comparison between  Killmonger and Kylo Re. Both had tortured youths growing up although many of Killmonger’s issues are legitimate.

His struggle to be accepted by his own kind becomes twisted into gaining power to rule Wakanda.

As Adam Serwer wrote for The Atlantic:

“Yet because Killmonger’s plans are rooted in a recognizable idealism and a wounded soul, the audience is supposed to empathize with him, even care for him. Viewers are meant to mourn him as T’Challa does when he dies, invoking his ancestors who chose to be consumed by The Void rather than toil in bondage.

When T’Challa goes to the spirit world, he sees his ancestors. When Killmonger goes, in one of the most moving scenes in the film, he sees only his father; the rest of his ancestors have been lost to The Void. He is alone in a way T’Challa can never comprehend.”

This tragic backstory and ending is a great triumph for the creators of Black Panther, and something which MCU hasn’t seen before.

Killmonger’s presence will be sorely missed in any future Black Panther movies. And that is the true meaning of a good villain.