Black Panther is a stunner of a film, with an A-list cast that brings their best work to screen. (It says a lot when someone of Angela Bassett's caliber is unable to pull focus because everyone has risen to her level.) But no character has caught the imaginations quite like Erik "Killmonger" Stevens, the first really multifaceted villain that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has managed to produce. His last line: "Bury me in the ocean," rang through the theater a searing indictment of the last 500 years. Is Killmonger really dead? Can Marvel really bring themselves to be strong enough to have a villain that good occur only as a one and done character? Warning: Spoilers for Black Panther follow.
Are you kidding? This is Marvel. Characters never stay dead in the comics if someone can find a way to revive them. Why should it be any different on screen?
Besides, Killmonger doesn't die in close up either. Obviously, he's supposed to be dead, passing away in this beautiful place he dreamed about as a boy, but could only reach after becoming a monster to get there. But fans of Marvel know if we didn't see the light go out in their eyes, they could come back. And if there's any place that has that technology to cheat death, it's Wakanda.
So how could Marvel bring Michael B. Jordan and his torso back for round two?
In the comics, Killmonger is offed after his first face-off with T'Challa, not unlike how this film ends. But he doesn't stay dead. Instead, the character "The Mandarin" brings him back to life. (No, not that weird fake one from Iron Man 3, the real one, that has actual powers.) The Mandarin is building an army to go after Iron Man, War Machine, and Black Panther.
With that character no longer part of the series in a serious way, we could have Thanos bring Killmonger back, for much the same purpose, in Infinity War or Avengers 4.
But speaking of Avengers 4....
While there are few spoilers available for the final two parts of the Avengers crossover adventure, we know this: Something terrible happens in Infinity War, with the possibility of several characters dying. (Favorite candidates seem to be Tony Stark and Steve Rogers since both actors are out of contract and Chris Evans (Rogers) has made it obvious he is done with making these films.)
But filming spoilers for the final installment have reported that the original team of five all show up at one point wearing their circa 2012 costumes and hair. Fans have theorized this isn't a flashback, it's actually time travel. Whatever happens at the end of Infinity War is so terrible that the only way to fix it is for Tony Stark to go back in time and change history.
If Stark is going to go back to 2012 and start messing with the past, what's to say he doesn't accidentally change the path of Erik Killmonger so that he and T'Challa don't reach the point of no return? That somehow the past is changed enough that when T'Challa offers Killmonger a chance to live, he takes it?
That might frustrate fans for whom Killmonger's final decision to end his life is too powerful to lose. But then again, Joss Whedon also got mad when he killed off Coulson, only to have Marvel resurrect him for a TV spin-off. He was so mad, in fact, it's why the TV and movie Marvel-verses have never crossed over in films. And yet, Marvel did it anyway.
That brings us to our last way to bringing Killmonger back to life: Kree technology. Erik's had a rough couple of decades. Maybe it's time he too had a vacation in T.A.H.I.T.I., in time to recuperate for Black Panther 2.