Warning: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
Audiences aren't usually supposed to root for the villain, but Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) isn't your typical antagonist. With his role in Black Panther, Marvel finally solved the pesky 'villain problem' that's plagued the studio since day one, winning Jordan a Best Villain trophy at the MTV Movie Awards just last week.
During the aforementioned award show, Jordan surprised fans by revealing to MTV that he would love to re-team with director Ryan Coogler on a future Marvel movie, reprising the role of Killmonger.
"So if there was ever an opportunity for me to come back and join this universe and work with like Joe Russo, Kevin Feige, Victoria [Alonso], and everybody over there at Marvel…"
Killmonger passed away at the end of Black Panther, choosing death over bondage, but unlike Wakanda, death rarely lasts forever in the world of Marvel. Various characters have been resurrected in the MCU over the past few years, including Elektra (Elodie Yung), Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the Red Skull (Ross Marquand) in Avengers: Infinity War. In theory, there are a number of ways that Killmonger could be added to this list.
If Marvel do choose to bring Jordan back somehow, then the most likely solution (bear with us, we're not endorsing this one) would involve the same kind of Wakandan healing technology that saved Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) from the brink of death. There's also a chance that the time-travel exploits rumored to feature in Avengers 4 could also play a role in the return of Killmonger, but neither explanation would play well with the fans.
It's safe to assume that many of the heroes who died at the end of Avengers: Infinity War will return soon in time for the release of their confirmed sequels. Bringing Killmonger back in the same kind of way would completely undermine the powerful statement that his death made about the consequences of violence, not to mention its emotional impact too. However, there is one way that Marvel could bring Jordan back into the fold and no, we're not talking about flashbacks either.
When Killmonger initially defeated T'Challa in a trial by combat, he ingested the Heart-Shaped Herb and gained the strength of the Black Panther. Although he then decided to incinerate the chamber that housed the rest of the herbs, Killmonger still formed a spiritual connection with the realm of Bast through this ritual.
We don't know much about how this part of the afterlife works exactly, but what we do know is that the spirits of T'Challa's ancestors dwell there after death, imparting wisdom to whoever next inherits the Black Panther mantle. As T'Challa's cousin, it would make sense if Killmonger's spirit also wound up residing in the realm of Bast, particularly as he also ingested the same Heart-Shaped herb as everyone else who's wielded the power of the Black Panther.
It's likely that T'Challa and perhaps others will also visit this mystical afterlife again in the future and if that's true, then it's entirely possible that Jordan's character could reappear there as a spirit. The only potential issue with this is that Killmonger's villainous actions could prevent him from joining his ancestors in the afterlife, although the mechanics of this realm remain unclear. Anakin killed all those younglings but ended up as a Force Ghost, didn't he?
If Killmonger does return in this fashion, don't expect it to happen any time soon. Michael B Jordan told Digital Spy recently that getting "totally ripped" for the role was no small task and he also has a number of other projects on the horizon to deal with first, including Creed 2 and the Netflix show, Raising Dion.
Maybe that's a good thing though. After all, T'Challa already has enough on his plate with the threat of Thanos and that whole 'being erased out of existence' thing. At this point, family squabbles are probably the last thing on his mind.
Black Panther is out now on DVD and is available to stream.
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