It's been out for just over three weeks and has already taken in excess of $900 million at the global box office. But there's one particular aspect of Marvel's Black Panther that has stuck with us, and that's villain Eric Killmonger.
Brilliantly played by actor Michael B. Jordan, he was so compelling that it was actually a shame to say goodbye to him during the climax. Here's why Marvel needs to be lining up a standalone Killmonger movie, pronto.
1. There's an entire story waiting to be told
Black Panther first introduces us to Killmonger as a child in Oakland, California in 1992. Not that we know it's him at first – that comes as part of the shocking twist midway through, in which we discover his father was killed (unwillingly) by Wakandan King T'Chaka (John Kani). This prompts his burgeoning rage and eventual desire to reclaim the Wakandan throne for himself. (His birth name is N'Jadaka.)
Killmonger's intervening years, including his growth to troubled adulthood and his life as a ruthless mercenary (hence the name), are alluded to in a later scene. But nothing plays out on-screen. Therefore, there's rich potential for a Killmonger solo movie. Just think how exciting it would be to see his violent black ops years dramatised on screen, and how he harnessed all that anger prior to his insurgent attack on Wakanda.
2. It will allow Michael B. Jordan to return
Critics and audiences are unanimous in their praise for Jordan's performance. Indeed, many have hailed him as the finest Marvel villain so far, charismatic and complex where so many are one-dimensional in their desire to conquer. Rolling Stone describes Jordan as "blazingly good", saying the actor plays Killmonger with "such tormented morality and emotional intensity that Erik's humanity is never in doubt".
In addition to his inherent charisma, Jordan's relative youth is key to what makes Killmonger so compelling. He's a young millennial who feels he's been cheated out of what's rightly his, and in many ways he's correct. It's just the way he eventually goes about claiming the throne is violent and appalling. Nevertheless, he's an effective surrogate for many youngsters in the audience, bridging the divide between the contemporary, street-level grit of his Oakland upbringing, and the rich tribal traditions of Wakanda itself.
Jordan never resorts to scene-chewing but instead channels a rage-fuelled young man on a path of vengeance. And a standalone Killmonger movie is the perfect opportunity to build on the impressive portrayal he's already established in Black Panther.
3. He could potentially reunite with Ryan Coogler
The Black Panther director clearly sees Jordan as something of a good luck charm, having already elicited excellent performances from him in Fruitvale Station and Creed. In fact, Coogler wrote the character of Killmoger with Jordan in mind. As producer Nate Moore told us, Coogler identified with the character's Oakland upbringing, and therefore needed a consummate actor in whom he could trust.
Over the course of just three movies, Coogler and Jordan have established themselves as one of the finest director-actor partnerships in the business. We'd love to see them work together again on a Killmonger movie as the character wouldn't have to jostle for attention with any other Marvel figures (short of potential cameos). As mentioned, there's potential for Killmonger's history and inner conflict to be built upon, and given how much Coogler identified with the character, he'd surely relish such an opportunity.
Even so, with Marvel chief Kevin Feige keen to enlist Coogler for Black Panther 2, there may not be a chance for this to go ahead.
4. It could expand the MCU
Many questions are being asked as to the status of Phase 4 of the MCU. It was recently announced that Marvel is adding six (currently untitled) movies to its slate in 2021 and 2022, with some speculating the inevitable Black Panther sequel may be one of them.
Is it too early to speculate on a possible Killmonger movie? After all, many have been champing at the bit for a Scarlett Johansson-led Black Widow spin-off, which is now looking increasingly more likely, so why should it be out of the question? The popularity of the character and Jordan's performance are already well established, and with old hands like Iron Man and Captain America potentially bowing out after 2019's Avengers 4, the way is paved for newer characters to step up.
Maybe there's potential for Killmongers' history to criss-cross with that of a key Marvel character? His black ops background has already been referenced, so could we potentially be faced with a scenario where he comes face to face with a pre-Iron Man Tony Stark, and his weaponry in a war zone situation?
This would work chronologically: assuming the events of Iron Man take place in the year of the film's release (2008), we could be presented with a 20-year-old Killmonger (or thereabouts) in the early throes of his deadly mercenary phase. It may also be a nifty way of bringing Marvel figurehead Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) back into the fold for a possible cameo after his MCU contract has expired.
Why would you like to see an Eric Killmonger movie? Tweet us your reasons @Cineworld.