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Erik "Killmonger" Stevens

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/killmonger.png
"I want the throne!"
Click here to see him as Golden Jaguar 

Birth Name: N'Jadaka

Known Aliases: Killmonger, Golden Jaguar

Species: Humannote 

Citizenship: Wakandan-American

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Portrayed By: Michael B. Jordan, Seth Carr (child)

Voiced By: Alejandro Orozco (Latin-American Spanish dub), Javier Lorca (European Spanish dub), Kenjiro Tsuda (Japanese dub), Diouc Koma (French dub), Christian Perreault (Canadian French dub)

Appearances: Black Panther

"I lived my entire life waiting for this moment. I trained, I lied, I killed just to get here. I killed in America, Afghanistan, Iraq. I took life from my own brothers and sisters right here on this continent! And all this death just so I could kill you."

A former American black-ops soldier who attempts a coup against the royal family of Wakanda.


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    Tropes # to J 
  • 0% Approval Rating: Upon usurping the throne, he’s become the most hated king of Wakanda. The Tribal Council aren’t exactly fond of him and are too scared to stand up to him. Okoye and the rest of the Dora Milaje clearly dislike him and are hesitant to work for him, but does so anyway... until T'Challa's reappearance at the climax to finish his duel with Erik gives them the excuse to rebel against him. Even his most loyal (and probably only) supporter, W'Kabi, eventually gives up on his goal and turns himself in.
  • Accuser of the Brethren: He really tears into Wakanda for doing nothing while Africa was torn apart by slavers and imperial powers, and those of African descent face immense persecution in the world.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • In the comics, Erik Killmonger is the character's Western name. Here, his Western name is Erik Stevens, and Killmonger is a nickname he was given during his time in the U.S. military.
    • His alias, while never spoken in the film, is "Golden Jaguar". There is no counterpart to that identity in the comics.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: As played by Michael B. Jordan, he's much more handsome than he is in the comics, where he's a more typical Scary Black Man.
  • Agent Provocateur: Agent Ross recognizes Erik "Killmonger" Stevens as one of his own, who was trained in infiltrating high levels of government and destabilizing them to make them easier to take down. True to form, after defeating T'Challa, he becomes the leader of Wakanda and puts in motion his plan to wage war on the world that enslaves and oppressed the people of Africa, not caring if Wakanda is destroyed in the ensuing conflict.
  • And This Is for...: Delivers a "This is for my father!" right before his first attempt to kill T'Challa.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: During his last fight with T'Challa, Killmonger vows that he'll kill T'Challa's family and friends and bury them in the ground next to Zuri.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite all of Erik's cruel and evil acts, his death is a somber event for T'Challa, who recognizes that Wakanda failed Erik. He even offers to heal him, but Erik refuses, and dies peacefully watching the Wakandan sunset.
  • Angry Black Man: Part of his overall Malcolm Xerox attitude, but he exudes rage, pain and hatred in most of his appearances, making him the most noticeable example of this trope in the movie. Even his father, the source of his beliefs, fell short of the sheer ruthlessness Erik dedicated to his ideals.
  • Arch-Enemy: To T'Challa, since T'Challa's father killed his own father and Erik killed Zuri after he offered up his own life to save T'Challa's.
  • Artistic License – Military: He's said to have graduated from Annapolis at the age of 19 (impossible, as the US military doesn't commission officers that young no matter how intelligent). Additionally, his brands may not even be allowed due to current military regulations which try to instill a more "professional" looking force.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: This is usually his main strategy. The way he wants to show Wakanda's superiority is to wage war and kill every nation's leaders and also their children. But there are more ways to show Wakanda's technology and city of Vibranium as T'Challa chose a diplomatic way of revealing their existence.
  • Badass Normal: A former black-ops soldier who has an extensive amount of kills to his name and has managed to take down governments with his tactics. When busting Klaue out of jail he manages to fight off a fully equipped Black Panther using his military skills alone and is later able to defeat a depowered T'Challa in combat for the throne, to the point of putting him in a near death coma.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In a way. While he is killed and doesn't get to rule over Wakanda and commit mass genocide of non-black people, the entire incident did convince T'Challa to open Wakanda to the rest of the world and share the country's resources with those who need them.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: T'Challa runs into trouble when dealing with Klaue because he opts for diplomacy when he had the perfect chance to kill his enemy in South Korea, instead choosing to apprehend him. It leads into Killmonger breaking Klaue out and ultimately killing him himself.
  • The Berserker: He was a One-Man Army in his past and according to Agent Ross he racked up a lot of kills "like it was a video game". During the fights in the movie with T'Challa he's very aggressive and hitting him with strong repeated strikes with his weapons.
  • Big Bad: He's the main antagonist of Black Panther (2018). Despite initially working with Klaue to get close to the arms dealer, Erik kills the man once he has Klaue in private with only one other guard, and uses his body to get into and then take over Wakanda, planning a global insurrection that will leave him as the sole ruler of the world.
  • Bling of War: His Panther suit is gold and black, unlike T'challa's own almost entirely black one. He also has gold caps on his lower eye teeth, and during the museum heist, takes a liking to an African tribal mask. Extra points for it resembling his comic book counterpart.
  • Blood Knight: Played with. He states that every life he took as a soldier served the specific purpose of bringing him to the throne of Wakanda. However, he sports a noticeable grin when fighting the heroes at the climax.
  • Burial at Sea: His Last Request is to be buried in the Atlantic Ocean with the Africans who jumped off the slaver ships rather than face enslavement in the New World.
  • Cain and Abel: A cousin variation, with him being Cain to T'Challa's Abel due to his violence, hatred of non-black people, and the disrespect he shows to his country and its heritage.
  • The Caligula: Upon becoming king, he ignores the needs of Wakanda's people to prioritize his own goals and cause chaos to the world's oppressors. Needless to say, the Tribal Council are afraid of his sociopathic reign.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the items on Cap's list includes the Rocky movies. Jordan played the title character of those movies' spinoff Creed, which was Ryan Coogler's previous film before Black Panther, making it a two-for-one example of this trope.
  • Child of Two Worlds: The son of a Wakandan male and an African American woman. Because of his past and vendetta against the royal family, he strongly identifies with his American heritage and only acknowledges his Wakandan ancestry when it suits his goals.
  • Clashing Cousins: He is the main antagonist for his cousin, T'Challa / Black Panther.
  • Combat Compliment: Gives one to T'Challa when the latter delivers the killing blow with Killmonger's own spear head, calling it "a hell of a move".
  • Composite Character: He has shades of T'Shan as T'Challa's cousin wanting to take the throne for himself.
  • Cool Mask: Sports a nifty reinforced ceremonial when breaking Klaue out of his cell, which he stole along with the actual target vibranium artifact in the museum heist specifically because it looked cool. The golden jaguar mask on his suit of armor is also very cool-looking.
  • Covered in Scars: His torso is covered in markings as a result of undergoing scarification, each one representing a life he's taken. There's at least hundreds.
  • Create Your Own Villain: T'Chaka killed his father and left Erik to find his body. Had he taken Erik with him to Wakanda, he likely would have become an asset to the nation due to his intelligence and vision. Unfortunately, this traumatic betrayal and abandonment sent him down the path of villainy. In another way, the USA were also responsible for him. He grew up amid the racial tensions in his country, and the US military gave him all the skills he needed to conduct his ultimate plan. When Erik meets with his father again in the spiritual plane, his father laments what his son turned out to be from that tragic event. Tellingly, he appears for a moment as a little boy, showing that he never grew past this horrible tragedy.
  • Culture Clash: A major point of contention is his American upbringing clashing with Wakanda's own culture. Epitomized when Erik (seeing things from an African-American, Pan-African point of view) calls out the royal court for "not helping our people" during the slave trade and Scramble for Africa, only for them to respond incredulously that the people being conquered and enslaved weren't their people, feeling no connection to tribes and nations on the other side of the continent just because they share a phenotype and broad land mass with them.note  His Lower-Class Lout mannerisms and dress also clash strongly with the nobles and royals he spends most of his rule conversing with. Ultimately, he feels like even more of an outsider in his father's homeland than he did in the USA (several people refer to him as "American" or "foreigner"), which just increases his disdain for Wakanda. This is reflected in his Leitmotif, which consists of traditional African music being overpowered by American Hip-Hop beats.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As per usual in this setting, he gets in a few witty remarks, like when he reveals his parentage to the Wakandan royal family.
    (to Ramonda) Hey, Auntie.
  • Death by Irony: During his reign as king, he proclaimed that "the sun would never set on the Wakandan Empire". The last thing he sees before he dies is... the sun setting down on Wakanda.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In Black Panther, he is killed by a mortal wound sustained while fighting T'Challa, but in the comics, he was killed by Monica Rambeau flying through his chest at light-speed.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: His black supremacist ideas evoke all sorts of racist ideologies.
    • His dreams of a pan-African Wakandan empire, as opposed to actual Pan-Africanism, are reminiscent of the ideology of Pan-Slavism in 19th century Tsarist Russia and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere plan devised by Imperial Japan. All three supposedly wanted to free their oppressed brethren (Africans, Slavs, East Asians) and unite them against the Western world order, with their technologically advanced and powerful nations, naturally, in charge. Both Russia and Japan were extremely ruthless with those "brotherly nations" who refused their vision of unity (as Poland, Ukraine, Korea and China can attest), so we can imagine how "well" Killmonger's plan would have gone had he succeeded.
    • Killmonger displays traits of a Hotep, the Hotep ideology being one that values the desires of hyper-masculine heterosexual cisgendered African men above all else.
    • He's also a Malcolm Xerox due to his rehetoric about how all everyone of African descent should violent fight off the oppressors and colonizers.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After being defeated by T'Challa, Killmonger refuses any offer of mercy that T'Challa was giving him.
  • The Dreaded: You don't get the nickname "Killmonger" by being a spectacularly nice person. It's revealed that he gained it by killing hundreds of people just to add to his tally.
  • Dreadlock Warrior: Erik sports dreadlocks which are mixed with an asymmetrical undercut. He laters combs the dreadlocks backwards. It certainly makes him distinctive against the people of Wakanda, who do not style their hair in this fashion.
  • Dual Wielding: Faces off against the Dora Milaje and T'Challa with a short sword and the cut end of a spear. (the short spear being a traditional weapon in Africa called an Iklwa, created by Shaka Zulu — how and why Wakandans adopted a weapon developed in South Africa in the 18th century is a mystery)
  • Eagleland: An unusual Type 2 who, while as jingoistic, self-righteous, crude, bigoted, and hypocritical as some of the worst examples of this trope, is chiefly concerned with African-American interests. He also spent most of his life overthrowing foreign governments for the CIA. Klaue even states that he used to think of Erik as a "crazy American".
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Already an impressive soldier and was able to defeat and almost kill T'Challa in the duel for the throne, he nonetheless gets the powers of the Black Panther through the Heart-Shaped Herb after being crowned King.
  • Enemy Mine: Subverted. Appears he's initially working with Klaue since Klaue's the only one with enough of a grudge against Wakanda to help steal and sell a Vibranium artifact. Erik's actually just waiting to get Klaue with his guard down, so he can kill the arms dealer and use Klaue's corpse as a "little gift" to get into Wakanda and realize his actual plan to challenge T'Challa for the throne.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Disguised as a visitor to a British museum, he casually corrects the museum's curator about an exhibit's origin and reveals his intention to steal it. When she protests he asks if the people who brought it to England didn't steal it as well, and once she and the guards are dead he nabs a nearby Cool Mask just because he thinks it looks good.
    • The Opening Narration also turns out to be one as after N'Jobu finishes telling the story, young Erik questions why Wakanda stays hidden and keeps the truth about its resources a secret, showing his penchant for questioning traditions.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Has a lover/girlfriend who assists him in robbing the museum, then helping break Klaue out from jail. Subverted when Klaue takes her hostage, he kills her without remorse to take away his leverage, showing Killmonger prioritizes himself and his vengeance.
    • A major part of Erik's motivation stems from a desire to avenge the death of his father, N'Jobu, while the rest of his motivation mirrors a more extremist version of his father's beliefs. When Erik meets his father in the ancestral plane, he tries to downplay his grief with the statement, "Everybody dies here," but it's undermined by him shedding tears as his father speaks to him.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • To T'Challa, as fellow Wakandans who now seek to rule the country as king. But while T'Challa sees things through a heroic lens of helping others and correcting the mistakes of the past, Erik is driven by revenge against the governments and power structures of the world that left people like him suffering. Also, he has a vicious demeanor in general that represents what T'Challa would have ended up as if he allowed his vengeance for his father's death to completely consume him in Captain America: Civil War. After seizing power, he even dons a variation of T'Challa's black longcoat and his own black and gold version of the Panther's vibranium suit.
    • And to Peter Quill. Both had their lives changed after witnessing one of their parents die when they were young boys and grew up to be savvy outlaws. However, while Peter grew up to be a well-adjusted person due to being raised by Yondu, Erik grew up alone and turned into a cruel man.
    • Also to Steve Rogers. Both men grew up in disadvantaged backgrounds and forged military careers. Furthermore, both men gained superhuman enhancements and were armed with Vibranium equipment. However, while Steve fights to protect and uses a shield (a defensive weapon), Killmonger fights to conquer and uses a sword (an offensive weapon). Ironically enough both of them would be the last to officially receive the augmentation that was destroyed in a fire/explosion. Finally Cap's name begins with Steve while Killmonger's last name is Stevens, a variation of Steve. And a meta example, both actors Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan were the Human Torch.
  • Evil Is Hammy: It's clear that Michael B. Jordan is having a blast playing Killmonger. In-Universe, Erik is constantly smiling (menacingly) and has a penchant long drawn out speeches that cause many of the characters like Okoye to be put off by his antics.
  • Evil Prince: First cousin to T'Challa and Shuri and a bonefide sociopath who wants the throne for himself.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Knowing that his wound is fatal and that if Wakanda's technology did heal him he'd just be imprisoned for the rest of his life, he chooses to remove the blade from his body and bleed out as he and T'Challa watch the sunset, plus considering his mother died in prison according to Word of God in the DVD/Blu-Ray commentary, he would rather die while he is still not in captivity.
  • Famous Last Words: "Why? So you can lock me up? Nah, just bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. 'Cause they knew death was better than bondage."
  • Fatal Flaw: Revenge, crossing over into Revenge Before Reason. While he rightfully criticizes the both America and Wakanda for their roles in the suffering of black people like him, Killmonger's hatred and refusal to forgive either nations ultimately leads to his downfall. Rather than use his skills and connections to non-violently help black people and himself, Killmonger tries to take over Wakanda and later the world, which lead to a Wakandan civil war and his death at the hands of T'Challa.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He comes off as charming and can be quite a nice guy and a male version of a Sassy Black Woman when he sees the need, but it's all an act. When the mask slips, it's clear that he's an angry and cruel person who takes great joy in the violence he causes.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Even after gaining the Black Panther powers, he still fights with the hand-to-hand combat skills he obtained during his military career. T'Challa is able to defeat him because he uses riskier maneuvers that are only possible with the powers.
  • Freudian Excuse: He lost his father as a kid, grew up in poverty and had to fight for everything.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: He was a former Navy SEAL and black ops assassin who became a terrorist and international criminal.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: From a random kid from Oakland to one of the best soldiers in the US Navy SEALs to temporary King of Wakanda, having bested T'Challa in combat.
  • Gang Banger: From his speech patterns to his clothing, he always chooses to present as a kid who grew up alone on the streets of Oakland, despite his intelligence and his military training making it easy for him to "pass" as whatever level of economic class he'd like. Even when dealing with royalty, he never drops his street swagger.
  • Genius Bruiser: Ross mentions that Killmonger finished college at the young age of 19 and then went on to graduate school at MIT (as did his comic book version). He's also an elite soldier who is extremely skilled at hand-to-hand combat.
  • Gold Tooth: Two of Eric's bottom teeth are gold capped. An "indicator of greed, ostentation, and conspicuous consumption"? You betcha!
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: It's no surprise that he chooses the gold-themed Black Panther suit that T'Challa considered too showy. Killmonger wants to demonstrate more of the Wakandan power to the world with force than what T'Challa had intended, so he wants to be seen. He also has GoldTeeth.
  • Graceful Loser: When T'Challa delivers the killing blow on him at the end of their final fight, he admits that it was a "hell of a move".
  • He Who Fights Monsters: A somewhat complicated example. Half of Erik's problem is that having suffered at the hands of racism in the past, he grew up wanting to fight against these monsters by any means necessary. The other half is that he spent years working for a morally dubious organization who used reprehensible methods (the CIA's black ops department) and wasn't able to fully ditch the mindset even after turning against them. T'Challa calls him out on it, pointing out that his ultimate plan is no different than what the white colonists of the past did.
    T'Challa: You want to see us become just like the people you hate so much! Divide and conquer the land as they did!
    Erik: Nah, I learned from my enemies! I beat 'em at their own game!
    T'Challa: You have become them! You would destroy the world, Wakanda included!
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: T'Challa fatally wounds him with his own short spear.
  • Hot-Blooded: Killmonger has a bad temper when entering Wakanda even bordering on a Hair-Trigger Temper but it's just that he is very passionate about overthrowing white people due to having to deal with racism in his past and is using all of that Wrath and hatred on his own people. It is made clear when he is seen most of the time raising his voice when he wants to make a point.
  • Hypocrite: Killmonger's It's All About Me and Moral Myopia attitude results in his several of his beliefs and actions being very hypocritical:
    • He has no problem with killing and bossing around other black people despite his stated goal of helping them out. He straight up kills his (implied) girlfriend to get to kill Klaue, then makes a passionate speech about how cruel the world is to "their kind", without any hint of irony. On a macro level, his plan is to share Wakanda's might by giving vibranium weapons to rebels and freedom fighters the world over but, on a personal level, he chooses to keep the Black Panther powers entirely for himself and makes sure that not even future generations will have them.
    • Crossing over with He Who Fights Monsters and You Are What You Hate, he's angry at white people for believing their superior technology gave them the right to conquer other less technologically advanced people across the globe, yet he believes that Wakanda's superior technology gives Wakanda the right to conquer the sovereign peoples of the world, culminating in the boast, "The sun will never set on the Wakandan Empire", taken almost word for word from a phrase used for empires down the millennia (including the USA), most commonly about the British Empire, which underlines how he's become exactly like those he hates. This, of course, does not escape comment by our heroes.
    • He holds a grudge against white people and eventually wants to kill them all for what their ancestors did to his ancestors in the past. Only he's half Wakandan and he himself points out that Wakanda is almost as complicit in colonialism as Europe is by having the power to stop it but not doing so. He chooses to embrace his (African) American side over his Wakandan side and view his claim to the throne as a tool. While he is willing to forgive himself and Wakandans who ally with him for their ancestor's crimes, he is unwilling to forgive those who do not ally with him and the world at large for their ancestors' crimes.
    • While he's angry at white people for the racism and abuse they inflicted on minorities, it's shown he only cares about the racism that was done to black people and he has no problem with subjugating the other non-white racial groups who have suffered from imperialism and oppression (one of his first targets is Hong Kong, a majority Asian city which was ruled by Britain until the very late 20th century and still exhibits lingering effects of British rule).
    • He goes on a rant about how it was wrong for white people to plunder to artifacts from Africa and how the artifacts in the museum belong to the people the British stole them from. Minutes later he steals one of these artifacts himself,note  not because he thought he had a right to it but because it looked cool.
    • When T'Challa tells him that the people of other African nations and African descent "aren't [Wakanda's] own", Killmonger questions this by pointing out that they all descended from the first humans in Africa so they technically are the same people. Not a bad point, except by extension this also means that all the white people he hates fall into the same category since they are also descended from those humans.
    • As he's beating T'Challa during their first fight, Killmonger chastises him for failing to be the king "who's supposed to lead [Wakanda] to the future", but his motives are firmly rooted in the past due to him seeking Revenge by Proxy.
    • He demands a challenge against T'Challa for the Wakandan throne, pointing out that, as per the law, he has the right to do so as the son of Prince N'Jobu. Later, when T'Challa returns from being Only Mostly Dead and points out the challenge for throne has not ended as the law says one of the combatants has to either die or yield, he refuses to follow protocol and tries siccing the Wakandan army on him.
  • I Die Free: He knows that Wakandan medical technology could save him from his fatal stab wound, but knows that T'Challa would probably just throw him in jail for his crimes after healing him. Presumably unwilling to share the same fate as his mother, he elects to perish on his own terms.
  • Idiot Ball: Erik needlessly abandons his extremely successful gambit of strictly adhering to Wakandan traditions to ensure no-one objects to his claim on the throne when T'Challa reminds him that the challenge has technically not concluded, since neither Erik nor T'Challa has yielded or been killed. Ditching tradition at this point immediately causes a split between Erik's followers and the Wakandans loyal to T'Challa. Also doubles as Third Act Stupidity.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Misconstrues his entirely innocent, bittersweet reunion with his father in the spirit realm, urging him to find a new family with the Wakandans, as justification for the Wakandans not being his family at all, and just another means for him to take revenge on the world.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How T'Challa takes him out. As the vibranium train passes by and deactivates the vibranium nanites, he kicks the spear into the air and stabs him in the gut before the nanites reactivate. Killmonger himself is utterly astonished.
  • Instant Armor: His Black Panther armor is made with the same vibranium nano-machines as T'Challa's, meaning it can instantly form around his body at a moment's notice.
  • It's All About Me: He claims that he wants Wakanda to declare war on the rest of the world to help the oppressed black people all over the world, but when T'Challa points out the flaws in his plans, Erik outright says that he doesn't care and that he just wants the rest of the world to burn while feeling the same sort of pain he felt. He also reacts very violently to the idea that there will be other Black Panthers and other kings of Wakanda after him, hence burning the Heart-Shaped Herb gardens. Then when T'Challa comes back from being Only Mostly Dead and tries to resume the challenge since he didn't die or yield, Erik refuses to follow proper protocol and instead tries siccing the Wakandan army on him. He is using Wakanda as a vehicle for his own homicidal revenge, and likely plans to see it burn to the ground along with everyone and everything else one way or another.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: First shown to have a girlfriend who is his partner-in-crime and clearly affectionate with her, only to kill her without a thought when Klaue tries to use her as a hostage.

    Tropes K to Y 
  • Kill Tally: He used ritual scarification to mark every life he took. His chest, arms and back are covered in these scars taking him from serial killer to mass murderer.
  • Kinslaying Is a Special Kind of Evil: It is cemented that Killmonger is a hateful character by how gleeful he is at the opportunity to kill T'Challa, his cousin who has personally never done anything wrong to Erik. Whenever T'Challa engages in ritual combat, he always gives his opponents, including Killmonger, multiple opportunities to yield rather than be killed. Killmonger takes obvious pleasure in throwing T'Challa off the mountain to his apparent death.
  • Last Request: When T'Challa mortally wounds him, he asks to see the Wakandan sunset like his father promised he would show him and to be buried at sea with the Africans who chose death over bondage.
  • Leitmotif: Scenes featuring him tend to add a hip-hop style beat to the usual musical style of the soundtrack, representing his American upbringing overpowering his Wakandan ancestry.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Black Panther suit he picks has a distinctive golden glow, as opposed to T'Challa's purple one.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Upon reuniting with N'Jobu while visiting the spiritual plane, Erik is shown to have become far more invested and dedicated to his ideal than his father ever was. Despite sharing the same goal of ending black oppression, N'Jobu couldn't help but be sad to see what his son had become.
  • Long-Lost Relative: He's the son of T'Chaka's brother N'Jobu, which makes him T'Chaka and Ramonda's nephew and T'Challa and Shuri's first cousin. Only T'Chaka knew about him because he killed N'Jobu then left Erik to fend for himself in America. Since N'Jobu kept Erik a secret and T'Chaka never told his family the truth of what happened to his brother, the rest royal family had no idea he existed until he revealed himself.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Invoked. Despite being a graduate of Annapolis and MIT, and a highly trained US government operative specializing in infiltration, he always chooses to reflect his upbringing as a kid from the streets of Oakland. Even after becoming king of Wakanda, he constantly uses slang, even in front of the other leaders of Wakanda, his preferred clothing is a long unbuttoned black jacket that exposes his chest, and he shows zero regard for protocol or tradition. It's telling his chosen Black Panther suit is the gaudy gold-augmented one which T'Challa turned down for the simpler silver-augmented one with the subtle purple undertones.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: He is the one who reveals to the Wakandan royal family that he is a part of them. In particular, he responds to Ramonda's shock with a witty "Hi, auntie".
  • Malcolm Xerox: His plan is to take over Wakanda and then start exporting weapons to gangs, militants and freedom fighter members of oppressed minorities around the world, chiefly those who are Black, and he implicitly is something of a Black Supremacist who wants Wakanda to be running the world mainly because it is a technologically advanced African nation and thus, in his eyes, the only one suited to running the world fairly. This doesn't stop him from killing or bossing around any other Black folk who happen to get in his way of course, but he clearly believes in his own cause and in his final moments even compares himself to slaves who jumped off the ship to drown themselves rather than live in bondage, when given the choice between death or prison.
  • Maniac Mercenary: He is a bit crazy and temperamental and a mercenary.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The Opening Narration for the movie turns out to be a talk between him and his father N'Jobu. He also the child shown in 1992 who stared at the Wakandan ships over his apartment.
  • Missing Mom: His mother is never so much as mentioned, aside from being the American woman his father fell in love with. Word of God is that she was sent to prison for an unknown crime (the plan N'Jobu was going over with Zuri was to break her out) and she died there shortly after his father's death.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Has a Wakandan father and an African-American mother, and being caught between the two cultures is key to his character. His death in particular resonates with this, since his last request is to see the sunsets his father loved, then be buried at sea with his mother's ancestors that chose death over slavery.
  • Moral Myopia: Constantly rails at the plight of black people at the hands of whites despite killing his way to his position and planning to inflict similar treatment on the world outside Wakanda. Notably, he gives no indication that he wants to help other minorities, just the ones who look like him. He also growls constantly about how he suffered because his father was killed, but still plans to kill the children of anyone in power outside Wakanda. Even his death scene is one of these as he believes allowing himself to die to avoid imprisonment for his crimes puts him on the same plane as a captured African who jumped ship to avoid a life of slavery.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He gets as many Shirtless Scenes as T'Challa. Erik takes off his shirt onscreen to fight him in the waterfalls, is shirtless when ordering the Heart-Shaped Herbs to be burned down as well as wearing a long jacket with his chest still exposed when he becomes king.
  • National Stereotypes: Erik embodies the idea that people from Oakland are poor, from the ghetto, and criminals. Having seen people like him suffer while the Wakandans he descended from thrive, he makes it his goal to even the score.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: His preferred get-up once he ascends to the Wakandan throne is an unbuttoned jacket, to underscore how he still chooses to present as a Lower-Class Lout.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Unlike other Wakandans, Jordan does not adopt a Wakandan accent to play Killmonger. Justified by Killmonger having grown up in the United States, not Wakanda, and having lost his Wakandan father at a young age.
  • Not So Different: See the He Who Fights Monsters trope. Erik doesn't just want to rebel against the white men for the racism he had suffered in the past and get better treatment for black people. He wants to establish a new world order where he and Wakanda use their resources to subjugate all non-African descended people under their rule. T'Challa calls him out on it, pointing out that it makes him no different from the white colonists of the old days.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: He claims he wants to liberate black people everywhere. However, given how he treats other black people himself, how he is willing to commit genocide against the other races and ultimately how he harms Wakanda itself and mistreats its culture, it seems he's more interested in venting his pain and suffering unto other people. When T'Challa points out his plan will just lead to mass death and destruction, including for those he claims he wants to help, Killmonger shows no concern and makes it clear he just wants to get even with those who've wronged him.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: After Killmonger burns the sacred Heart-Shaped Herb that give Black Panthers their powers, Ross theorises that he's subconsciously trying to make sure to destroy Wakandan civilisation on top of everyone else's due to his black-ops training. The point of his previous work wasn't to advance a cause, but to leave easily-lootable rubble behind after the dust has settled, and now he's turned against the people who'd normally be doing the looting. T'Challa echoes this sentiment during their final fight.
  • One-Man Army: Ross says he was one of America's most potent soldiers, racking up kills in Afghanistan "like he was in a video game." He has kill marks scarred onto his arm for every person he's killed, and when he duels T'Challa, he takes off his shirt to reveal his whole body is covered in hundreds of those marks.
  • Outlaw Couple: He seems to be this with his girlfriend, with Klaue sarcastically comparing them to Bonnie and Clyde. Subverted — when he has to choose between her and his goals, he shoots her with zero remorse.
  • Playing the Victim Card: One specific instance at the end of the film. He believes that him choosing to bleed to death to avoid what would be a completely justified prison sentence puts him on the same moral plane as the kidnapped African citizens who committed suicide to avoid a life of slavery in the New World.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: His plan involves genocide and subjugation of all the non-black races. He also blames random white people for their ancestors' crimes. There's also some subtext in the way he treats women compared to Wakanda's egalitarian society, as he kills his girlfriend when she outlives her use, strangles a female elder, and openly relishes both killing an incapacitated Dora Milaje and the prospect of killing Shuri when she's disarmed.
  • The Power of Hate: Erik hates the world and mainly everyone in it. As Okoye puts it that his heart is full of hatred. His hatred is his drive and where his power comes from the most. It all started when his own uncle killed his brother and left him to survive on his own. He had to train, lie, and kill just to get to T'Challa.
  • Princeling Rivalry: He and T'Challa / Black Panther, the son of the deceased king contest for the throne of Wakanda. T'Challa has no idea Killmonger even exists after his father has killed Killmonger's father, his own younger brother and has covered it up. Killmonger challenges T'Challa to a ritualistic duel, nearly kills him and seizes the throne. In the end, T'Challa returns, mortally wounds Killmonger and reclaims his place as the rightful king.
  • Profiling: He accuses the museum staff of doing this to him, noting that they have reinforced security since he came. They turn out to be right, however: Erik was indeed going to rob the place along with Klaue.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Has a juvenile attitude about him, with little respect for authority, tradition, or others. Whenever he lashes out at people, he comes across as a bratty teenager who's willing to use violence to get whatever it is he wants. His ultimate plan is also incredibly naive (giving black people dangerous foreign weapons and just expecting them to follow his orders and win) and T'Challa points out Erik's Evil Plan to wage war against the world from Wakanda will bring ruin to Wakanda as well. Further, when Erik meets with his father N'Jobu again in the spiritual plane and N'Jobu laments what his son became due to his death, Erik appears as a little boy, showing that he never grew past his horrible tragedy.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: He wears some specs as part of his tourist disguise during the museum heist, but takes them off by the time he gets smuggled into the ambulance.
  • Rage Helm: The patterns on his Black Panther suit give the impression of a snarling panther baring its teeth.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Erik does this several times throughout the movie through his identifying Wakandan Vibranium tattoo and his father's royal ring.
  • Related in the Adaptation: He is T'Challa and Shuri's cousin and the nephew of T'Chaka and Ramonda.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He hated his uncle for killing his father and transfers that hatred to his cousin. In addition, he wants to rebel against the white men for the racism he had suffered in the past.
    Killmonger: I lived my entire life waiting for this moment. I trained, I lied, I killed just to get here. I killed in America, Afghanistan, Iraq... [removes his tunic, revealing his extensive scarification.] I took life from my own brothers and sisters right here on this continent! And all this death, just so I could kill you!
  • Royal Blood: His father was the younger brother of the late king of Wakanda, and Eric aspires to take the throne from his heir T'Challa.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • The Black Panther suit he dons is the gold version that T'Challa rejected for being too showy.
    • Another recurring motif is his use/misuse of Wakandan/African culture and artifacts in pursuit of his own goals. He steals (with Klaue) an antique vibranium axehead and an unrelated ceremonial mask from a museum, for the purpose of selling the vibranium to the CIA and because it looked cool respectively. He uses his Wakandan tattoo from his father to gain access to the country, for entirely selfish reasons. During his ritual combat with T'Challa, he snaps off part of the staff for one of his weapons — a Wakandan spear — to make it easier to use, just as Klaue had earlier done with the axehead. After taking the throne, he orders the garden of the Heart-Shaped Herb burnt and begins mobilising forces to arm splinter cells around the globe with Wakandan weaponry. All of this demonstrates that, for all his knowledge of his Wakandan roots passed down through his father, he lacks his culture's respect for tradition and is prepared to use whatever tools at his disposal to fulfill his goals.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Downplayed and a male example, whenever he uses slang and act Faux Affably Evil, he speaks in this manner, as opposed to T'Challa more classy and stoic demeanor.
  • Scary Black Man: Adaptational Attractiveness aside, he is still a fierce fighter and the fact his torso endured scarification adds a dash of Body Horror. As it turns out, this is pretty key to his motivation, too.
  • Scary Teeth: Invoked with his Black Panther suit, which is covered in patterns shaped like razor sharp jaws.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Many of the people he targets haven't wronged him personally. Rather, he's taking revenge on them on for what their ancestors (T'Challa's father) or people of the past from their group (the British colonists who took African artifacts to a UK museum) did.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: His initial outfit (as seen in the picture above) is pretty modest, but once he usurps T'Challa on the throne, he takes to wearing a loose robe with no shirt underneath (as opposed to T'Challa's stiffer, more conservative royal garb) in a clear invocation of this trope.
  • Shadow Archetype: To Black Panther/T'Challa. Their Origin Story both started with their father's murder by remorseful killers. T'Challa started off blind to the whole truth and relentlessly pursued Bucky, but gave up the quest for vengeance and remained good after hearing Zemo's confession and realizing the complexity of the issue. Erik, on the other hand, was left alone for over twenty years and spent that time plotting against the Wakandan royal family, never understanding the futility of revenge.
  • Short-Lived Leadership: His reign as king lasts only as long as it takes for T'Challa to fully heal from his wounds under the Jabari's protection. When he shows up alive to resume the challenge, he ultimately kills Killmonger and becomes king again.
  • Slasher Smile: Displays a visibly menacing one at times, notably during the final battle when he marks out Shuri and Nakia as his next kills and when he seemingly has T'Challa beaten. And quite literally, as he grins ear to ear while he slices open a Dora Mijale's throat in front of her friends.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Former member of the Navy SEALs and a thoroughly remorseless person.
  • The Starscream: Erik works under Klaue and aids his schemes of stealing vibranium just so he can kill Klaue himself and use his body as a means to get into Wakanda and fight T'Challa so he can become king. Turns out he was never loyal to Kalue in the first place.
  • Straw Hypocrite: At first, his goal of ending the oppression of black people seem noble, but as the plot thickens, it’s clear that he just wants revenge on the world. This is made clear by the Hypocrisy he does.
  • Sword Pointing: When he sees Shuri and Nakia on the battlefield, he does this to mark them both out as his next targets.
  • Take Over the World: His goal is to supply everyone of African descent in the world with Vibranium weapons to take down the governments to create a Wakanda controlled world order with him as King.
    Killmonger: The sun will never set on the Wakandan empire.
  • Tempting Fate: "This is it for you, cousin."
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: Discussed within the movie. While Erik ostensibly has a very strong cause, several characters point out that he's still acting like a CIA wetworker, using ideology as a mask for chaos and destruction so his masters can move in and asset-strip the ruins. Literally and metaphorically burning down the governing structure of Wakanda isn't very useful for advancing black imperialism, for instance. The catch, of course, is that he's turned against those masters, so he's just leaving ruins without a purpose beyond his hollow, empty ideology.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Seth Carr and Michael B. Jordan played child and adult Erik Killmonger, respectively.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: He's a hardened military man and terrorist named "Erik." He doesn't even have "Killmonger" as a last name in this version, instead using "Stevens" — although it's heavily implied he got this surname from his mother or that it was a name his father assumed to better blend in as an American — Erik's "true" (Wakandan) name is N'Jadaka, son of N'Jobu.
  • Tragic Villain: He was turned into the man he is today when King T'Chaka killed his father N'Jobu and abandoned him in order to preserve Wakanda's isolationism. The bitterness, hatred and craving for revenge stemming from this event lead him to many acts of villainy and ultimately to his own death.
  • The Unfettered: Erik will do anything to get to his goals. Anything. Example being how he handles his two allies: When Klaue is holding Erik's lover hostage, he just shoots them both — his lover because she was unimportant, and Klaue because he was a means to an end. He unflinchingly makes split-second, violent decisions with no remorse, all for the sake of reaching his goal. And, as he says in this section's quote — all the killing and lying were so he could reach this point.
  • Unknown Rival: Spends most of the movie as this. He trained his entire life to one day take the throne of Wakanda from the king, but T'Challa was completely unaware of his true nature until he spotted Erik with a royal ring and had his backstory explained to him by Zuri.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: From what we see in flashbacks, Erik was a curious boy who loved listening to his father's stories about Wakanda and playing basketball with his friends. When Erik meets N'Jobu on the spiritual plane, he appears as a kid again, clearly grieving his father's loss even in his adulthood.]
  • The Usurper: He's described as an "aspiring prince," and seeks to overthrow T'Challa. He temporarily succeeds after defeating him to near death in combat, but because of the combat rules his reign is never technically legitimate.
  • Villain Ball: Throws T'Challa down a waterfall instead of killing him with his weapons or bare hands. This gives his enemy a chance to come back in the film's third act. Though it's also a Mythology Gag to their first battle in the comics.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • In-Universe. Erik Killmonger, much like his father N'Jobu, argues that Wakanda is in many ways complicit in the suffering of Africans in other countries, as it has selfishly withheld access to its advanced technology and refused to intervene to assist them. At the film's end, T'Challa agrees he has a point but was wrong in his methods and execution, and thus begins a program of creating outreach centers in African minority communities, so that they can start using their technology to peacefully help them.
    • Also in Real Life. His points about the black elite helping the poor communities are a relatively common argument within the community, just without killing all white people.
  • Villainous Underdog: Erik grew up in poverty, faced racial discrimination in America, and lost both of his parents as a child. In contrast, T'Challa was born into a life of wealth and privilege, has the backing of his family, and also has access to the Black Panther's powers by natural birthright.
  • Villainous Valor: When his Black Panther suit get de-powered during the final battle with T'Challa, he proclaims he doesn't need a suit to kill him and after getting defeated and mortally wounded, he chooses to Face Death with Dignity rather then to accept medical attention and then be imprisoned for the rest of his life like his mother.
  • Visionary Villain: Has a clear vision of the future where Wakanda becomes the sole superpower in the world after spearheading a worldwide uprising of black people.
  • Warrior Prince: First cousin to the current King of Wakanda and a former black-ops soldier turned mercenary.
  • Wicked Pretentious: He knows the history of the museum artifacts and has an extensive knowledge of African and Wakandan history as well as their traditions and ancient artifacts, but he doesn’t really care about them. He only ever uses his knowledge of these if it helps benefit his Evil Plan and as noted in Hypocrite, he has no problem misusing and stealing them like the British did centuries ago.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He lost both his parents when he was just a child, and grew up surrounded by racism and classism while *knowing* the truth about Wakanda and that the nation was refusing to help people like him. At his final battle with T'Challa, he states the world took everything from him and he wants to get even.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Shows zero restraint against women; not even unarmed older women are safe from a Neck Lift if they inconvenience him in any way. During the climactic battle, he gleefully kills a defeated warrior of the Dora Milaje and tries to outright kill Shuri after he's disarmed her, and would've succeeded if not for T'Challa's intervention.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When talking about his plans after taking the Wakandan throne, he says that the children of the oppressors must also be killed. In a more direct example he also has no qualms about fighting Shuri and would have likely killed her had T'Challa not intervened.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Grew up in the slums of Oakland, which hardened him into the person he is by the time the movie takes place.
  • You Are What You Hate: T'Challa lambasts him for becoming as much a cruel, thieving bully as his racist oppressors and Okoye says his heart is full of hatred, his end goal accomplishing nothing but needless misery and death.
  • You Killed My Father: Or rather, your father killed my father. Erik wants revenge on T'Challa because T'Chaka killed his father and left him behind in a life of poverty.

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