killmonger's mother

Erik Killmonger was a villain of Wakanda’s own making. Abandoned as a child in Oakland, California, and left fatherless and motherless, the Big Bad of Black Panther undoubtedly had one of the most tragic backstories for a Marvel villain. But what happened to Killmonger’s mother? We never quite learn her fate in the movie, but now, Ryan Coogler has revealed the sad story of Killmonger’s mother in the Black Panther Blu-ray commentary.

Before the events of Black Panther, N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), the brother of King T’Chaka, is embedded in Oakland to send back intelligence and information about the events of the world back to Wakanda. But there, he falls in love with a woman and they have a child, who eventually grows up to be Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. While living in Oakland, N’Jobu becomes convinced that Wakanda is not doing enough to help oppressed minorities around the world, and allies with Ulysses Klau (Andy Serkis) to smuggle vibranium out of Wakanda.

Black Panther opens on N’Jobu in his Oakland apartment, making militaristic plans with a young version of Forest Whitaker’s character, Zuri (Denzel Whitaker) — supposedly in on his mission to arm oppressed black people all over the world. But Coogler revealed on the Black Panther commentary track (via The Hollywood Reporter) that the scene has more layers to it than you’d think:

“The idea was when you see those guys talking over the paperwork in the beginning of the film, they’re talking about a way to break her out of jail. The idea was they never got her out, and she passed away in prison, so Killmonger didn’t come up with a mom either.”

This makes Killmonger’s already tragic backstory even more tragic. Not only does he lose his father N’Jobu, who is killed by T’Chaka and left unceremoniously on his apartment floor, but he loses his chance to reunite with his mom. It drives Killmonger’s taste for revenge, which fuels him to take over Wakanda and enact his father’s vision. The absence of his mother also kind of explains Killmonger’s brutality against women — first coldly killing his girlfriend in order to get to Klaue, then terrorizing the female elders of Wakanda.

Black Panther will be available on digital May 8 and disk May 15.

After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

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