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Will Disney Bring Back Killmonger For Black Panther 2?

Could one of Mighty Marvel's Biggest Bads be making a comeback?

Michael B. Jordan blew away audiences with his ferocious and nuanced portrayal of Erik "Killmonger" Stevens in 2018's Black Panther, with the character quickly skyrocketing into the upper echelon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's villains. Killmonger famously died at the conclusion of that film after uttering one of the most badass lines in film history, but that has never stopped fans from wondering if he might make a return; after all, in the MCU as in the pages of Marvel comics (not to mention Wakandan culture), death does not necessarily mean the end.

Black Panther scored over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office and became a cultural phenomenon, and writer-director Ryan Coogler, along with stars Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman, and Angela Bassett, are all on board for round 2. As you may have heard, however, the tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman following a secret, four-year battle with colon cancer has left not so much a hole as a smoking crater at the center of the project. Boseman's passing has prompted all manner of intense speculation about the future of Black Panther 2 — and instantly reignited the debate over whether Jordan's magnetic Killmonger could return to help revitalize the franchise. How might this happen? Let the speculation commence!

There's more than one way Killmonger could come back for Black Panther 2

It's worth noting that we never actually saw Killmonger expire on screen. He was gravely injured after his final brawl with Boseman's King T'Challa, who offered to attempt to save his life using Wakanda's ultra-advanced medical technology. Killmonger's iconic reply: "Why, so you can lock me up? No. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, because they knew death was better than bondage."

A stirring request — but did T'Challa honor it? We did see him apply the same emergency medical treatment — a vibranium disc — to Killmonger's wound that was earlier used to stabilize T'Challa's CIA ally, Everett Ross (Freeman). Even if it had been imminent at that point that Killmonger would succumb to his injuries, we also know two things about Wakandan tech: That its march of progress never ceases, and that cryostasis has been perfected, as we've seen it used on Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Could Killmonger have been figuratively put on ice until such time as medical science could save him?

Of course, there is another way Killmonger could return, without ... well, actually physically returning. Having partaken of the Heart-Shaped Herb to gain the power of the Black Panther in the first movie, it seems possible that his spirit could now reside — along with that of T'Challa's father, King T'Chaka, and the other Black Panthers of yore — on the ancestral plane. Here, he could offer singularly unique guidance and advice to whomever takes on the mantle of Black Panther after T'Challa's presumed death.

Could Killmonger actually be the new Black Panther?

One could easily make the case that the latter option for bringing Killmonger back makes a bit more narrative sense, for the simple fact that few MCU characters have had a stronger sense of duty and honor than T'Challa. It seems pretty likely that he would have honored Killmonger's request, and not forced medical intervention upon the man when he clearly didn't want it. If indeed Killmonger returns for Black Panther 2, it's a safe bet that we'll see him on that ancestral plane, offering his insight to the new Black Panthe.

If, however, Marvel chooses to go the full "Nope, he's actually still alive" route, then this raises another intriguing question: Could Killmonger actually take on the mantle of Black Panther for the sequel? At first blush, it seems like an odd choice. He was a vicious and formidable foe, intent on usurping the throne and using Wakandan technology to dominate the world. During his final battle with T'Challa, however, he fought and "died" with honor, and his motivations were never evil so much as they were misguided.

How fascinating would it be to see this extremely complex villain, full of righteous anger, have the mantle of King that he once craved forced upon him? To see him suddenly made to grapple with his predecessor's towering legacy while being made to cooperate with T'Challa's most trusted advisors on a daily basis? To complete a transition, over the course of the film, from complicated villain ... to reluctant hero?

If the answer you arrived at is "pretty darned fascinating," then you're not alone, and it's tough to think of an actor more capable than Jordan of pulling it off.

Another choice for Black Panther 2

All this considered, Killmonger actually hasn't been the biggest name on fans' lips when they've discussed what they'd like to see happen with Black Panther 2. Sure, many are hopeful that Jordan's character will be back for the sequel film, which may or may not even happen following Boseman's untimely and heartbreaking death, but the majority of Marvel fans are hoping that T'Challa's prodigiously intelligent little sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) will take on the Black Panther mantle in the next movie.

There have been rumors that the folks at Disney and Marvel Studios are planning for Boseman's T'Challa to pass on to the ancestral realm and for Shuri to take his place as the new Black Panther in Black Panther 2 — but nothing has been confirmed. On the flip side, sources close to The Hollywood Reporter with evident inside knowledge of the situation have claimed that Disney and Marvel aren't thinking about Black Panther 2 at all as of right now, instead focusing on grieving the loss of Boseman and honoring the life of such a bright talent. 

Whatever ends up happening with Black Panther 2, it certainly won't be the same without Boseman. 

We'll be keeping an eye out for any and all breaking news regarding Black Panther 2, and we'll keep you informed.