Erik Killmonger’s story is a sad one, even more so now that it has been revealed what happened to his mother.
Before the events of Black Panther, N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), the brother of the king of Wakanda, falls in love with a woman in Oakland and they have a child, who grows up to be Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan). It is through his love for Erik’s mother that N’Jobu changes his mind about the world outside of Wakanda, and decides he must help its people.
At the start of Black Panther, the audience sees N’Jobu and a young version of Forest Whitaker’s character, Zuri (Denzel Whitaker in the flashbacks), formulating a plan in an Oakland apartment.
“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,” Coogler explains. “The idea was they never got her out, and she passed away in prison, so Killmonger didn’t come up with a mom either.”
Called by Coogler the most important moment in the film, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) later learns that his father, T’Chaka (played by Atandwa Kani in the flashbacks), killed N’Jobu, who had secretly been planning to arm the oppressed people of the world with Vibranium. After killing his sibling, T’Chaka left his nephew Erik (played by Seth Carr in flashbacks) alone in Oakland so that the people of Wakanda would not find out about what had transpired.
As an adult, Killmonger seeks both revenge and to fulfill his father’s vision.
Coogler also revealed that Francis Ford Coppola saw an early cut of the film and his favorite scene was when the audience learns what really happened to N’Jobu.
Black Panther will be available on digital May 8 and disk May 15.
This article was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter.