Black Panther: Why Killmonger Is Not A Villain

Black Panther's Anti-Revolution Message

At first sight, Killmonger in the Black Panther Movie may seem like a Villain, but in reality, Killmonger is actually not a villain once its appreciated that Killmonger represents an Afrocentric  Historical conflict between different approaches to Black struggle i.e. Negotiation (Integration) vs Violent revolution.

These different approaches to Black struggle which demonstrate that Killmonger is actually not a Villain are symbolised by how Martin Luther King and Malcom X approached Black struggle in the United States.

Within this context, Killmonger is not a villain since in reality, the Black Panther Movie actually positions Killmonger in the vein of Malcolm X as he seeks to empower the oppressed masses, and ultimately create a new social order in which Black people worldwide play a more prominent role in global affairs.

On the other hand, King T Challa can be seen as the more accommodating and less radical Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

In my view,the Black Panther Movie goes as far as promoting the Martin Luther King integrationist approach to Black struggle.

Why Killmonger Is Not A Villain In Black Panther

Black Panther attempts to distort Killmonger’s Afrocentrism by portrarying him, as a ‘Militant radical” but Black Panther does not succeed in portraying Kilmonger as a Villain because there is no intellectual exploration of the origins of Killmonger’s Revolutionary drive.

Instead, Black Panther traces Killmonger’s Revolutionary impetus to childhood trauma, in an attempt to suggest that Killmonger is a Radical Villain because his Militant Politics are driven by emotional trauma rather than by a rational assessment of the oppressed conditions of Black People in America and what he views as an appropriate response using the resources available to Wakanda.

This biased portrayal of Killmonger’s actions and his ultimate defeat at the hands of the ‘genuine’ King of Wakanda is both dubious and sinister.

It attempts to suggest that Killmonger is a Villain because the very idea of a total Black Revolution by radical violent means is automatically emotional, ‘extreme’ and thus irrational.

Black Panther thus repackages established dialectical conflicts for a new generation whilst repeating the same message that Integration is always the better option because ‘Radicalism’ or ‘Extremism’ is abnormal leading to personal as well as Social alienation.

From this perspective, the Black Panther movie may be an example of a new type of emerging Politically correct Afrocentric Hollywood propaganda.

Despite Black Panther’s failed attempt to portray Killmonger as a Villain, I still enjoyed the Movie, and am glad Black Panther was released due to its cultural impact, however, its ultimate conclusions on Black struggle only seem to re-inforce what has gone before.

In the final analysis, its clear that by attempting to portary Killmonger as a Villain for his essentially unexplained Radicalism, Black Panther promotes an Integrationist or Pacifistic approach to Black struggle.

However, we would do well to remember that being a Revolutionary is not automatically the result of some emotional dysfunction but can be a logical response to Social, Economic and Political Oppression which in the case of the United States manifested as White Supremacy.

Many of the world’s Revolutions such as the Osirian Revolution and the French Revolution were all logical responses to Oppression against a Ruling class that could not be resolved through negotiation or Pacificism. 

In addition, many African Leaders like Patrice Lumumba who liberated Africa from Colonialism thought exactly like Killmonger did and they are heroes today.

For these reasons, until the Black Panther movie does more justice in exploring the root causes of Killmonger’s Afrocentrism as a possible rational response to Oppression and in particular White Supremacy in the United States, we cannot safely conclude that the Killmonger we see in Black Panther is actually a Villain.

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