It’s likely that “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman has a different take on who the blockbuster film’s villain is than you and he’s explaining why.
During a sitdown with The Atlantic alongside co-star Lupita Nyong’o, Boseman explained that it’s not Michael B. Jordan’s forgotten Wakandan Erik Killmonger who’s the bad guy.
“I actually am the enemy,” Boseman tells Ta-Nehisi Coates at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater Tuesday, Feb. 27. “It’s the enemy I’ve always known. It’s power. It’s having privilege.”
Killmonger wants to break the wealthy fictional African nation of its insular ways and have its resources used to help better Black people globally, which led Boseman to his unexpected realization about T’Challa. He further explained that Killmonger is “an African-American and therefore trying to find a connection to his roots in Africa.”
Additionally, Boseman drew parallels between the character and the movie’s director, Ryan Coolger, who was born in Virginia and visited the motherland for the first time before starting “Black Panther.” Boseman, a South Carolina native, said he can also identify with that struggle and noted that T’Challa, king of Wakanda was “born with a vibranium spoon in [his] mouth,” referencing the precious and fictional metal known to heal and provide advanced technology to the Marvel nation.
“Killmonger is trying to achieve greatness … but there’s an expectation of greatness for me,” Boseman said. “I don’t know if we as African-Americans would accept T’Challa as our hero if he didn’t go through Killmonger. Because Killmonger has been through our struggle, and I [as T’Challa] haven’t.”
By the end of the film, T’Challa — who earlier in the movie proclaimed he was the king of Wakanda and thus only responsible for the residents there — announces Wakanda’s days of solely dedicating resources to its own are over. The nation will now share its technological advancements with the rest of the world to help them. And just as Killmonger wished, his hometown of Oakland will benefit from Wakanda’s wealth, too.