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Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, the charismatic and complex villain in Black Panther, one of the most captivating antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Image via Marvel Studios)

Is Erik Killmonger the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Erik Killmonger's character represents a unique blend of physical prowess, intelligence, and charisma in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He presents an ideological challenge to the protagonist T'Challa, which sets him apart from other villains in the MCU.

Killmonger's backstory, complex motivations, and sense of justice resonate with audiences, making him one of the most relatable antagonists in the franchise. Moreover, Michael B. Jordan's powerhouse performance adds another layer of depth to the character, making him a standout villain in a cinematic universe filled with them. However, the question remains: is he the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?


Disclaimer: This article reflects the author's opinions.

Erik Killmonger in Black Panther raises the possibility of him being the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

His backstory and motivation

Killmonger's tragic past and burning desire for justice drive his actions as a villain in Black Panther (Image via Marvel Studios)

Killmonger's backstory and motivation provide a rich tapestry for his character, making him a complex and compelling antagonist. His traumatic childhood experiences, including losing his father at a young age and witnessing the oppression of black people in America, have profoundly impacted his worldview.

His father's death at the hands of T'Challa's father, combined with his experiences growing up in Oakland, fuels his desire for revenge and his mission to bring justice to the oppressed. Additionally, Killmonger's belief that Wakanda is responsible for using its resources to help oppressed people worldwide is a noble cause that sets him apart from other MCU villains. While his methods may be violent and extreme, his motivations are grounded in a desire to improve the world.

His ideology starkly contrasts T'Challa's more isolationist approach to governance, setting the stage for an ideological battle that adds depth and nuance to the conflict between the two characters. Ultimately, Killmonger's backstory and motivation provide a compelling case for why he is one of the most well-written villains in MCU.

His screen presence and charisma

Michael B. Jordan's dynamic portrayal of Killmonger brings intensity and charisma to the MCU's most captivating villain (Image via Marvel Studios)

Michael B. Jordan's portrayal of Killmonger is undoubtedly a standout performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He imbues the character with an undeniable charisma that makes it impossible not to be captivated by his every move. Jordan brings a sense of vulnerability to Killmonger, making it easy for the audience to understand and empathize with his motivations.

However, he also possesses a sense of menace and unpredictability that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. His physicality also enhances Killmonger's screen presence. He is a formidable opponent for T'Challa, with his military training and advanced Wakandan technology. His fighting skills and agility make for thrilling action sequences, and his imposing physical presence further emphasizes the threat he poses.

Jordan's commanding performance as Killmonger, combined with the character's imposing physicality, creates a memorable and impactful antagonist that ranks among the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


The counterarguments

Despite his strengths, some argue that Killmonger's actions are ultimately misguided, and his defeat by T'Challa diminishes his impact as a villain (Image via Marvel Studios)

Although Killmonger is widely regarded as a top-tier MCU villain, some critics have raised concerns about his character's motivations and ultimate fate. While his desire to seek justice for oppressed people worldwide is admirable, his methods of achieving this goal are undoubtedly extreme and ruthless.

Some viewers may find it challenging to sympathize with Killmonger's character due to his willingness to resort to violence and destruction. Additionally, the fact that T'Challa and his allies ultimately defeated Killmonger may weaken his standing as a compelling villain.

Killmonger's ideology puts him at odds with T'Challa, but some argue that his ultimate defeat could be seen as predictable and anticlimactic (Image via Marvel Studios)

While his ideological conflict with T'Challa provides an exciting and nuanced narrative, Killmonger's eventual defeat could be predictable and anticlimactic. Furthermore, some may argue that his defeat undercuts the potential impact his character could have had on the MCU's overarching narrative.


Despite these counterarguments, it is hard to deny the significant impact Killmonger has had on the MCU. His complex backstory, compelling motivations, and dynamic portrayal by Michael B. Jordan make him a memorable and engaging villain. Even if his character's motivations and methods are not universally agreed upon, his role in the narrative of Black Panther and the MCU at large cannot be overlooked.

The limited screen time of a compelling villain

While Killmonger's impact on the MCU is significant, some argue that his limited screen time puts him at a disadvantage compared to other villains (Image via Marvel Studios)

In addition to these counterarguments, another point to consider is the limited screen time Killmonger has in the MCU. While his character makes a significant impression on Black Panther, his presence in the broader universe is limited to this one film.

Some fans may argue that other MCU villains with more extended arcs, such as Thanos or Loki, deserve the title of the best MCU villain due to their more extensive impact on the universe's overall narrative. Despite his limited screen time, Killmonger's impact on the MCU has been significant.

His character's influence can be felt in subsequent films like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, where the events of Black Panther play a pivotal role in the narrative's overall arc. Additionally, the popularity of Killmonger's character has resulted in renewed interest in the Black Panther franchise and a desire for more stories featuring the character.


Final thoughts

Erik Killmonger's complexity, motivations, and performance make him a strong contender for the title of the best villain in the MCU (Image via Marvel Studios)

While several other villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have made a lasting impact, Erik Killmonger sticks out as a standout character. His multi-dimensional character arc, driven by a desire for justice and rooted in his tragic backstory, showcases a new depth of complexity in a Marvel villain. Moreover, Michael B. Jordan's portrayal of Killmonger adds to his on-screen presence, making him a formidable adversary for T'Challa.

Killmonger's impact on the MCU and the Black Panther franchise is undeniable, and it's evident that his character has left a lasting impression on audiences. Despite the debate over who holds the title of best MCU villain, Killmonger's compelling character will surely be remembered for years.

Edited by
Priya Majumdar
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