Marvel’s Black Panther will reunite the team behind the Oscar-nominated Creed, as Michael B. Jordan has joined the cast of the Ryan Coogler-directed film. Marvel declined to comment, but we’re hearing the deal is set with Jordan possibly playing a villainous role in the film that will star Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, who serves as King and protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
Jordan’s hiring comes amid rave reviews for Boseman over his portrayal of Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, and it follows yesterday’s news that Lupita Nyong’o is in talks to play an as-yet unrevealed love interest in the film. It also caps off a big week of Marvel-adjacent news for Jordan. As Deadline exclusively reported yesterday, Captain America: Civil War directors The Russo Brothers have come aboard as producers on Jordan’s upcoming remake of The Thomas Crown Affair for MGM.
As for the role itself, Black Panther’s rogues gallery is a diverse group of men and women, but two possibilities stand out based on Jordan’s age. M’Baku, otherwise known as Man-Ape, was once one of Wakanda’s greatest soldiers until he rebelled against T’Challa and attempted to overthrow him. Joining the outlawed White Gorilla cult, M’Baku gains superpowers and has since his introduction to Marvel comics in 1969 served as a frequent antagonist to Black Panther and aside from Ulysses Klaw might be his biggest arch enemy.
Of course, a name like “Man-Ape” seems to me like a very difficult sell – it’s impossible to ignore how loaded those words are, and Marvel is already catching a little flack over casting on Iron Fist and Doctor Strange. Given the impressive (to say the least) casting for Black Panther, Marvel is clearly dead serious about getting this one right. Which brings us to Erik Killmonger (you have to love that name), introduced in 1973.
A Wakandan warrior originally called N’Jadaka, Killmonger’s family was exiled from the country after his father was kidnapped and forced to work for the supervillain Ulysses Klaw. Changing his name and relocating to the U.S., he nursed a burning desire for revenge against Klaw, and a serious grudge against T’Challa for his exile. He’s less a true villain, more someone with a justified crusade, the kind of opponent that makes for an uneasy ally under the right circumstances, possibly providing the MCU with another Loki in terms of ability to use the character in multiple ways. Andy Serkis has already portrayed Ulysses Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron and is widely assumed to be returning for Black Panther, making Killmonger seem a very logical choice.
Black Panther will be the third collaboration between Jordan and Coogler. Along with last year’s Creed, the duo first teamed for the 2013 biographical drama Fruitvale Station. Jordan is represented by WME, MGMT Management, and Bloom Hergott. Black Panther is set to begin filming in 2017 and hit theaters February 2, 2018.
The news was first reported in The Hollywood Reporter.