In the year since Black Panther has been released, few elements of the film have been as critically analyzed as Michael B Jordan's Killmonger. For a shared universe that, until recently, was criticized for its weak villains, Killmonger has taken his rightful place among the greatest cinema villains. Ever. Complicated. Empathetic. Sympathetic. But all the while terrifying and intense. There is something so magnetic about Killmonger as a character, thanks to a combination of Ryan Coogler's direction and Michael B Jordan's brilliant performance. Many fans thought it tragic that the character was so definitively defeated come the end of his film.
It was inevitable that Black Panther would get a sequel. What many did not anticipate, however, was that Micheal B Jordan would be set to return as Killmonger. While nothing is set in stone yet, it is inevitable that speculation would start as to how Killmonger may return in Black Panther 2.
It is highly possible that Killmonger will not return from the dead in Black Panther 2, but Michael B Jordan will still reprise the role. After all, it isn't like a character has to be alive in the present to appear in a film.
It is possible that the film will employ flashbacks to Erik's days in the military. Perhaps he will have interacted with Black Panther 2's main villain. Perhaps there is some tie to Killmonger, either in that the main villain will be a former companion of Erik's, or a potential rival. Whatever the case, this possible "resurrection" is simple: he's still dead, but at one point, he existed.
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9. T'Challa Kept Him Alive
At the end of Black Panther, T'Challa mentions how Wakanda has the technology to keep Erik alive, but Killmonger, tragically, hastens his demise to join his ancestors.
What if T'Challa ignored Killmonger's dying wish and just... kept him alive? What if he brought him to Shuri, and the two of them have him on ice somewhere, much like how they put Bucky on ice at the end of Captain America: Civil War? It is possible that T'Challa showed his adversary mercy -- and that mercy will prove to be his undoing... or prove to his benefit.
The truth is we as audience members know precious little about what Killmonger was up to between the death of his father and his appearance in Black Panther. There is no reason to believe there isn't a second Killmonger out there, ready to replace the fallen one. Or a third. Or a fourth.
While Killmonger clones may be the lamest way to restore this incredible villain in Black Panther 2, it is a possibility that must be considered. Marvel has a long, storied history with clones. It isn't outside the realm of possibility they might be used here.
It is, again, possible that Erik is, in fact, dead, and his appearance in the film will be nothing more than T'Challa reflecting on his fallen foe. Or, perhaps, an AI or some sort Shuri makes.
What if Black Panther, in order to hone his ability, fights in a Danger Room-esque simulation, facing off against a synthetic Killmonger for his own benefit? What if T'Challa, regretting the sins of his family, creates a hologram of Killmonger to yell at him or something? Or to talk to?
Another variant that draws from the above is that Black Panther remembers Killmonger in private, remembering his perspectives and critiques of Wakandan culture. And, perhaps, the memories differ from what originally happened, as T'Challa romanticizes or even grows to love Killmonger in some fashion.
It would be underwhelming to see Michael B Jordan return to his iconic role in Black Panther 2 just to appear as a figment of T'Challa's imagination and nothing more. Still, it's a possibility.
5. Resurrection Alter
Erik Killmonger dies in the original comics. Many, many times. One noteworthy comic resurrection involves the Mandarin of all people restoring Killmonger on the Resurrection Alter, only to die once the Mandarin grows bored of him.
While it would be interesting to see the Mandarin appear for real in the MCU, it is unlikely to happen in Black Panther 2. What's more likely, however, is some variant of the Resurrection Alter to appear, as well as some enchanted magic being used to bring Killmonger to life. The MCU has fully embraced magic by now, so it isn't outside the realm of possibility.
4. Ancestral Plane
The Ancestral Plane in Black Panther exists as a sort-of magic world where the living can visit the souls of the departed former kings of Wakanda. While Killmonger burned all the purple flowers in his brief reign, flowers were preserved.
It is possible that, by the time Black Panther 2 starts, they already have a few new flower plants growing. If so, the drug can be used to revisit the Ancestral Plane... and T'Challa can meet the departed soul of former Wakandan King Erik Killmonger.
Wakanda is a technologically advanced nation. It pushes all levels of scientific limitations in order to make the impossible very possible. As such, it's entirely possible that Erik Killmonger may return in Black Panther 2 not as the flesh-and-blood antagonist T'Challa bested, but rather as a cyborg.
Why would Killmonger return in Black Panther 2 as a cyborg? Who knows? But considering that Shuri regularly creates technological marvels, perhaps she turns Killmonger into a cyborg to combat whatever threat T'Challa and the rest need to face in the MCU sequel. Or perhaps someone else turns him into a cyborg. Who knows?
2. Infinity Stones
This is perhaps the most underwhelming answer, but, by this point, Infinity Stones have been used to bring characters like Vision and Doctor Strange to life (the latter an untold number of times in his bargain against Dormammu). If anything can restore Killmonger, it's the Infinity Stones.
The only thing that might keep this resurrection method from becoming a possibility is that it's rather silly. The Infinity Stones are going to be a bit of an overdone plot device by the time Black Panther 2 rolls around. Would audiences really want to see the Infinity Stones take center stage after Avengers Endgame? Who knows?
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1. Only Mostly Dead
There is also the inevitable possibility that Killmonger isn't dead at all. It only looks like he's dead, but he actually survived. Somehow. Is it likely? Probably not. Wakanda should have the technology to be able to tell the difference between a dead body and a living one.
However, it's possible we're all overanalyzing this problem and that Ryan Coogler will just shrug and say "Eh, he's not really dead? We just thought he died." While that would be an underwhelming reason why Killmonger returns in Black Panther 2... it remains a very simple explanation that has worked time and time again. The reasons why Killmonger returns may be far less important than the simple fact that he returns. Period.