Is Black Panther’s Killmonger the Best Villain Since the Joker? – Wisecrack Quick Take

Is Black Panther’s Killmonger the Best Villain Since the Joker? – Wisecrack Quick Take


Hey Wisecrack. Desperately Needs-a-haircut Jared here. So we just saw Black Panther, and gotta say-
it’s probably one of the better Marvel films; and the element that elevates it is something
rarely seen in the MCU: a complex antagonist. Even the best Marvel films feature villains
that fit the same generic pattern: try to take over the world for reasons that are rarely
more complex than they are for Pinky and the Brain. “What do you want to do tonight?” “The same thing we do every night, Pinky.” “Try to take over the world!” It’s just what Marvel villains do. Ego wants to take over the universe because
he’s egotistical. Hela wants to take over Asgard so that she
can then take over the Nine Realms. And Hydra wanted to take over the world because
they’re literal Nazis. “Heil Hydra!” But Killmonger is different. He’s got compelling and relatable reasons
motivating his attempted at global conquest, so much so that we found ourselves asking:
is Killmonger the best superhero villian since the joker? Welcome to the Wisecrack QuickTake on Marvel’s
Black Panther. And as always, spoilers ahead. So what motivates Killmonger? Simply put, he’s seeking retribution for
the injustices leveled against people of African descent by many Western countries. This includes the obvious – like slavery and
segregation, but also other wrongs including redlining, in which unfair government loan
policies forced blacks to live in ghettos, and racial profiling by police, in which increased
patrolling in impoverished black neighborhoods contributes to the mass incarceration of black
men in America, a plight which current Black Panther writer Ta-Nehisi Coates often writes
about. And by the way, if you’re interested in
hearing more about Coates and other Afro-pessimistic views are being expressed in pop culture,
I shamelessly recommend listening to the “Get Out” episode of our movie podcast, Show
Me the Meaning. Anyway, though these injustices are only obliquely
alluded to in the film, (including a humorous bit with Shuri calling Bilbo a colonizer)
they form the obvious subtext every time Killmonger mentions the plight of blacks living outside
of Wakanda. A plight that Wakanda could presumably fix. And this leads to one of the film’s central
questions: should Wakanda do more to address the inequities of the outside world? Initially, the Wakandans want to maintain
their isolationist politics, and Killmonger wants to conquer the oppressors, thereby colonizing
the old colonial powers. This juxtaposition of Isolationism versus
Colonialism is one of several false dichotomies introduced by Killmonger that characterize
the thematic structure of Black Panther. So what do I mean by “false dichotomy?” Throughout the film, Killmonger prompts a
number of binaries such as Isolationism versus Colonialism, or Traditionalism versus progress. But as the film ultimately reveals, there’s
no reason to look at these issues as a choice between two absolutes. There’s usually a third way, a middle path
between the two extremes, or what Aristotle called the Golden Mean. And this ‘Golden Mean” defines T’Challa’s
character arc. T’Challa grows when he learns to avoid the
simplistic solutions at the far ends of the spectrum. So let’s explore these dichotomies. The first is a question of how to construct
a group identity: national identity versus racial identity. The people of Wakanda are extremely nationalistic. They view the world as divided into two groups:
Wakandans and everybody else. This leads to a “Wakanda First” attitude
among many citizens. They’ve built walls, refuse refugees, reject
trade, and offer no foreign aid, all in the name of protecting Wakanda, because they value
the lives of those who share the same heritage and culture as themselves. But Killmonger, having grown up in America,
has developed a strong sense of racial identity. For him, because Wakndans have the same skin
color as blacks in the rest of the world, Wakandans should see themselves as part of
a global black community. Among the first things he says when he takes
the throne is something like “all around the world, people that look like us are suffering.” In his speech to the United Nations at the
end of the film, T’Challa rejects both the Wakandan’s nationalism and Killmonger’s
ethnicism, and instead accepts the middle road offered by humanism. He specifically states that all of humanity
is one tribe. It’s a surprisingly color-blind message,
but a welcome one. The second false dichotomy is Traditionalism
versus Progress. For all of its technological advancements,
Wakanda is an extremely traditional society; regularly engaging in ancient rituals such
as the combat for the crown or the ingesting of the heart-shaped herb. For Killmonger, progress requires getting
rid of traditions, such as when he destroys the garden of heart-shaped-herbs and refuses
to continue the ceremonial combat with T’Challa. One could even say his philosophy echoes that
of Kylo Ren: “Let the past die. Kill it. If you have to. For T’Challa, the middle ground is keeping
what traditions he can but rejecting what wasn’t working, specifically Wakanda’s
isolation and its hostitlity with the Jabari. The film’s final false dichotomy is the
aforementioned Isolationism versus Colonialism. Most Wakandans believe continuing their centuries-old
tradition of isolationism to be the most prudent path to maintaining peace, including, initially T’Challa. Killmonger, on the other hand, subscribes
to a theory mentioned frequently in the film – that the world is getting smaller, and you’re either the conquered or the conquerers. Killmonger’s Solution: the Wakandans should
take part in the same harmful colonialism that’s afflicted black individuals for centuries. Killmonger seeks to repay historic injustices
tit-for-tat by arming oppressed black communities around the world with advanced weaponry and
inciting race riots and radical revolution. Killmonger’s political philosophy is reminiscent
of the French Revolution, which was fueled by fantasies of the oppressed exacting revenge
upon their oppressors. Killmonger’s desire for vengeance is so
impassioned that he seems to give no thought to governing after destroying Western society. Like his construction of color and race, this
too is a result of his American upbringing. Killmonger’s story is like that of many
African Americans for whom military service was the only viable path out of poverty. And it was the American military which trained
him in the art of regime change, his time in the special forces having been spent overseeing
various coups and conquests in the middle east. Not only does this result in him being more
interested in revolution than actual rule, it’s also darkly ironic: he wants to colonize
the so-called colonizers because that’s what the colonizers taught him to do. This is part of what makes Killmonger such
a sympathetic villain. And yes, he is a villain. Unlike T’Challa, he doesn’t look for the
Golden Mean; he’s an extremist, in both his beliefs and violent methodologies. But this extremism is painted as a direct
results of Western society grappling with its messy past. Killmonger is a dark reflection of the sins
of our forefathers. Just as he blames T’Challa for the actions
of his father T’Chaka, he blames everyone else for their ancestors’ actions as well. But T’Challa rejects this when he says to
M’Baku that he is not responsible for past Wakandan kings’ mistreatment of the Jabari
people. And while T’Challa doesn’t deny the wrongdoings
of Westerners past, he acts without animosity towards their present-day descendants. It’s this optimism which allows T’Challa
to chart a course between the extremes of isolationism and conquest. By the film’s end, T’Challa is persuaded
by Killmonger that there is a need for Wakanda to provide global aid and assistance, just
without the violent conquest. The movie closes with T’Challa building
an outreach center in Oakland to help the people that Killmonger was fighting for. And that’s what makes Killmonger such a phenomenal
villain. Whereas most bad guys represent a clear-cut
evil that must be unilaterally defeated, Killmonger’s disposition is one that must be adopted. Killmonger doesn’t just challenge our protagonist,
he guides him and provides him with the insight he needs to become a truly great King. In the face of very divisive issues, T’Challa
is able to synthesize these solutions in a way that works best for Wakanda and the world. It’s like Afro-futuristic Hegel! Hope you guys enjoyed the movie as much as
we did. And as always, thanks for watching, peace. 

100 thoughts on “Is Black Panther’s Killmonger the Best Villain Since the Joker? – Wisecrack Quick Take

  1. Nah. I like killmongre a lot but I think he's somewhat overrated. I think vulture was a better villain than him and potentially thanos

  2. Ego’s motivation wasn’t that he was egotistical (pun’s all on you), though that played into it. His motivation was that he felt lonely in the universe and didn’t know how to properly bond with people, contrasting him with Star-Lord and his surrogate family.

  3. Killmonger being considered one of the best Marvel villains is an embarrassment of riches. There is an abundance of simplicity and immaturity present in his character. He is not a sympathetic character unless you are still dealing with some basic racial ideas. Just because you arm everyone who looks like you doesn’t mean they will support you, or that you will be able to forge a communal identity. The only sympathetic value he holds is the yearning for freedom.

  4. The one thing that put me off about this whole "arm the blacks to start a revolution against western society" is the fact that asian races/people aren't even considered. Marvel should seriously start incorporating more asian characters, because there's essentially next to no representation at all.

  5. Killmonger was as basic as villains get. Derpderp you killed my [X] motivated by revenge, my way is the best way so I will rule the world

  6. Wow. I'm a native African from Kenya and I can confidently say that this is one of the most accurate depictions of black angst that I've ever seen. Kudos Jared; you really are the White Wolf.

  7. only good thing about killmonger was Michael B. Jordan. his motivations were so weak "we need revenge against white people"

  8. Why isn’t anyone talking about Zemo? He wasn’t anywhere near the “I just want power cliche.” I thought he was great!

  9. Black people are in jail because they commit more crimes not because they’re neighborhoods are overly patrolled. Your statement simply didn’t make sense.

  10. This is not the quality content people subscribed to this channel for.

    This is just another typical YouTube video with a clickbait title (AKA your average YouTube content). You didn't even compare Killmonger to the Joker once throughout the entire video and yet you dare to even ask if some Lion King villain stands a chance against, without a doubt, the greatest villain of all-time: The Joker.

    This channel shouldn't lower its standards to that of the toxic ShitTheory format. Come on guys, you can way do better. Killmonger was fucking cool, but I'm disappointed in you Wisecrack. This is just utter garbage.

  11. I’m White, but I believe Killmonger was right. Wherever in the world my people have gone the indigenous people has suffered. Even today we call the police of black children selling water.

  12. I dont understand why people think he was that great and he certainly isnt relatable. Why is it wakandas obligation to help other nations they dont inherently owe them anything because they share the same skin colour. All his other motivations are essentially hes a black supremacist wanting genocide as penance for histories problems. Sounds awfully similar to a certain German dictator whos people were treated poorly and thought they should rise up and take control through genocide.

  13. I expected this video to be about why Killmonger isn't even a good villain, let alone the best of anything. Instead, you didn't look at him through the eyes of a student of film, or even a film buff, but instead took the same stance as all the sycophants that think Black Panther was the dog's bollocks: "Movie had lots of black culture, was racist to everyone else, therefore it's awesome!"
    You made one comparison to Killmonger, and it ended up being Kylo fucking Ren. Both shit characters with shit writing, motivations, and development. Terrible dialogue too. Atleast you did one thing right by recognising the two belong together.

  14. One of the problems in your construction is the perspective that wrongs which need to be righted are in the past, as opposed to being carried out presently. Yeah, colonies are gone in name, and slavery in the us was abolished by law, but the exploitation of the resources and people of Africa hasn't ended. There are presently more black men in prison for nonviolent drug crimes than were enslaved at any one point. The institutional barriers to full citizenship for black folks in this country are still in place. To avoid going into a fill sociological lesson in the comments section I'll put a point on it here: the descendants of those who colonized and enslaved continue to be the enemies of the descendants of those who were colonized and enslaved. In this way, Killmonger is NOT a villain. To many, be is the hero.

    (Also, it is a strange position to seek compromise/middle ground with those who are actively killing you as the more righteous path. That is a burden usually placed only on colored folks historically.)

  15. Ehh, Killmonger exemplifies the concepts of colonialism and isolationism in superficial terms. Like most marvel movies, Black Panther gives philosophy only the bare minumum to be functional without saying anything truly inspiring.

    Killmonger condradicts himself too many times to be thought provoking as a villain, even if his motivations are interesting. He thoroughly enjoys killing people, even the oppressed people of war torn countries. He actually laughs as he just flat out kills a Wakandan in cold blood. Even his rivalry with T' Challa isn't justified given had no idea about his father's actions. He isn't an ends justifies the means villain, because he genuinely enjoys power and killing and feels no regrets for killing his "brothers and sisters."

    Even the film itself is confused. Agent Ross openly talks about regime change and destabilizing world governments and he is still framed as a good guy. Its rediculous, especially when paired with the "statements" Black Panther makes about foreign policy.

    Also, even though it isnt relevant, I cant stand Killmonger's theme. I hate hip hop so much.

  16. flol no. a good villian yes but… joker from the dark knight good? He's not even the best marvel villian. Thanos is better/funner (he was the protagonist of avengers 3 basically). Loki is better. He's definitely marvel top 5. I liked Ego more and he was funner to watch…. vulture was about as fun to watch Killmonger is maybe tied for second for most complex marvel villian.

    On second thought I like Thanos more than joker maybe. uh oh.

  17. Killmonger is definitely not the most complex marvel villain, he’s has understandable views and opinions, but’s that’s about it, other than that he’s just an extremist asshole.

  18. Let’s be honest here, Killmonger is only considered the best villain because he hated white people and constantly, and I mean constantly, talked about his ancestors being slaves.

    Even his plan is retarded. “Oh my father was killed, let’s give all black people guns to stand up to everyone!” Like what the fuck?

  19. I love Killmonger but I have to say Wilson Fisk from Daredevil is the best villain since the Joker or maybe even better, but that’s really hard for me to choose.

  20. Now that I think about it, him and Hela/Loki are very similar in a way. I mean the way that they tried to take over everything.

  21. I suppose hes one of the "best villains" in that he inspired real life hatred of other people. Go into any comment section of any video showing scenes he is in and its nothing but people calling for "white blood to be spilled" and more or less "smashing apart the white mans world for whats rightfully ours". This film divided people, and was an affront to all Stan lee built.

  22. Holy shiiiit. Just because he's black doesn't make him great.
    WANTS REVENGE = CLICHE
    MANIAC PLAN TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD = CLICHE
    RACIST = CLICHE
    CHEESY ONE LINERS = CLICHE
    DIES IN A GENERIC BATTLE WITH THE HERO = CLICHE
    Wake the fuck up, sheep.

  23. T'Chala is a representation of what Africans, or to be precise African-American, want to be viewed in public in all of their "authentic" cultures. Whereas Kilmonger represents the inner desire/drive/id from which Black people had been taken, that is, sovereignty. Even this notion is taken slightly further in Kilmonger as he revealed to be a colonialist. Kilmonger offers something that most of Black people, especially those of slavery product, have never dared to envisage, being the elite.

  24. nope, he is just as forgetable as the villain in ironman 1, he spouts a lot of garbage that sounds deep but with only a hint of brain are obviously shallow sentences ment to sound deep.
    also the performance besides the action scenes (where his face is visible) is totaly off and not convincing at all. he is supposed to be special ops, but he talks and behaves like a gang banger.
    also while the jokers plan was pretty insane and convoluted, it's also kind of the thing about joker, while killmongers plan is just as convoluted, insane and based on a lot of luck, just like the jokers plan.

  25. I feel like a part of the few margin that doesn’t like Killmonger. He hardly did anything in the movie and never clarified his goals. He caused slight confusion for 2 days or so then was defeated. Claw was a threat to Wakanda for years and was a much more developed villain. And killmonger was boring too there’s no getting around it

  26. I know I am watching this a year late but: I didn't think the Villain convinced the Hero of anything. I thought it was the Love Interest. She was the one who spent the movie saying, "Let's use our resources to help people in need." That was the plan the Hero went with, not the Villain's "Let's start a race war" plan.

  27. Joker: Known and respected in comics, tv, movies and videogames.
    Killmondger: 80% did not even know about him until he appeared in a 2018 movie.

  28. How is Coates pessimist? He believes reform is possible, he believes that anti lack violence isn’t ontological, etc.

  29. We didn't get to know Killmonger well enough to know ALL of his motivations. He barely has any lines in the film. It's hard to gauge how important of a villain he is, in comparison with others, because we just don't get to know who he is. Sure, we know he's abandoned and is angry about the injustice he has seen and personally felt as a black man but, there's otherwise just not enough substance to him in the film to make claims of his level of importance. His main goal, revenge against the sources of inequality, is valid and warranted. But, do not confuse a social issue with a barely fleshed out character. Honestly, I sided with Killmonger. T'Challa is naive, childlike and does not really inspire. Not hard to be a good villain when compared to him.

  30. He's a terrible villain! He kills women, his bodyguards, his girlfriend, a museum guide (and by his own admission have killed children) because his dad was killed for being a traitor. His plan to rule was imbecilic and he dies saying "Bury me in the ocean where my ancestors jumped from the ships…"
    His ancestors didn't jump. That's why they're his ancestors.

  31. that is exactly what Nagato did to Naruto in their fight maybe check out Naruto series villians they are all amazing and most of them
    are not one dimensional characters

  32. >hydra wants to take over the world because they’re literal nazis
    Wow somebody hasn’t watched Agents of shield. It’s way dumber than “they’re literal nazis”

  33. Killmonger was lame, and his last line was retarded, it stinks of the common belief that slavery/imperialism started and ended with white English people bringing black people from Africa to north America…something about India in there somewhere….but that's it…that's the totality of all knowledge on this subject. Case closed. So deep. So very deep. So much nuance. So much understanding of history. So philosophical.

  34. Funnily, she calls a “colonizer” basically the only nationality who never had any there. Guess all white people are alike to her.

    (CinemaSins guy voice) Thaaat’s racist. ding

  35. 6:03 no the way that killmonger refered as the violent solution is marxist not ilustrated (the liberals fought for freedom and representation but comunism fight to make a proletarian dictatorship) but anyway great video keep doing so

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