Black Panther Director Ryan Coogler Revealed the Heartbreaking Fate of Erik Killmonger's Mother

Warning: What? You haven’t seen Black Panther yet? Well, hurry, because there are definitely spoilers ahead.

Erik “Killmonger” Stevens never struck me as your run-of-the-mill super villain, and after learning what happened to his mother, he’s become even more complex. The Black Panther antagonist’s heartbreaking upbringing and story line made him a complicated character, and director Ryan Coogler has even more insight into Killmonger’s tragic past.

During the film, we learn that Killmonger is the son of N’Jobu (the brother of the King of Wakanda) and a woman from Oakland, CA. While the audience sees the demise of N’Jobu, we’re never introduced to details about Killmonger’s mother. But Coogler revealed more backstory in the commentary track for the Black Panther Blu-ray, and we finally know an important detail.

Coogler explains what young Zuri and N’Jobu are planning at the beginning of the film in Oakland before N’Jobu’s death. “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,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “The idea was they never got her out, and she passed away in prison, so Killmonger didn’t come up with a mom either.”

This devastating detail definitely explains more about Killmonger’s character and powerful thirst for revenge. While his vendetta against T’Challa was dark and tragically flawed, knowing his lonely existence means you can’t help but have a shred of sympathy for him, and that, Mr. Coogler, is the sign of a job well done.

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