We know by now that Michael B. Jordan, who plays Erik Killmonger in the Black Panther film, is a bonafide anime fan. But what if Killmonger was, too?
Image: Erik Killmonger, ready for battle with his rival. Just like my anime! (Marvel Studios)
That’s the premise of what has become, over the course of the past week or so, the best meme to ever emerge from a Marvel film (in my humble opinion). The meme seems to have two flashpoints: first, the aforementioned fact about Michael B. Jordan, and the observation that Killmonger’s outfit in Black Panther bears at least a passing resemblance, though perhaps an unintentional one, to Vegeta’s armour in Dragon Ball.
— Jenn (@Shorty2Die4) February 19, 2018
It fits, on more than just a visual level: a philosophically divergent rival, raised in the United States at the pinnacle of anime’s import into the west, whose conflict with his cousin more than passingly resembles the righteous fury of some of anime’s most memorable villains. Why wouldn’t Killmonger like anime? He’s practically a shonen (anime and manga aimed at teen boys, think Naruto or Bleach) character already.
The confluence of anime fans and Black Panther fans has made this an exceptionally fun idea to play around with, particularly when you factor in T’Challa’s almost-certain ignorance of all things otaku.
Erik Killmonger: You and me? It’s like that part in Naruto where Naruto fights Sasuke at the Valley of the End. That part during the Sasuke retrieval arc you know what I’m sayin’?
T’challa: I don’t— I don’t understand a word you’re saying
— It's 🅱️en (@BenStarred) February 21, 2018
im glad we've all decided killmonger also likes anime pic.twitter.com/ly5iGxCeR4
— Klaudia Amenábar || VOLTRON S5 SPOILERS MUTE ME (@kaludiasays) February 26, 2018
Others have decided that other members of the Wakandan ruling class, like Shuri, would absolutely share in Killmonger’s love, in an alternate universe where, y’know, they chatted instead of trying to kill each other.
black panther au where shuri constantly dunks on a reformed killmonger for his "basic" anime tastes and they go to an anime con together - t'challa is confused but agrees to "dress up" together
— Jenny ✨ ECCC R2 (@asunnydisposish) February 23, 2018
i need the full power rangers style morphing scene with glowing energy and motion graphics of oakland flying in the background before an explosion happens behind him for no reason
— D👁CFUTURE (@topherflorence) March 2, 2018
Even the fan artists have gotten a hold of it, producing work like this gem, via storyboard artist Steve Yurko (shared with permission, thanks, Steve!):
The Prince of Wakandians
Erik Killmonger, Toriyama style pic.twitter.com/ZEEH8j4x9G
— Steve Yurko @ ECCC E2 (@SteveYurko) March 2, 2018
It’s confirmed. Killmonger loves anime, and he is anime. One of Marvel’s best villains is now, so far as the internet is concerned, also its best otaku.