Michael B. Jordan on what he's excited for people to take away from Black Panther
A hero is only as good as his or her villain. And when Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther takes center stage this weekend as his much-anticipated solo film finally hits theaters, he finds himself face-to-face with an equally dangerous antagonist in the form of Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. But the new movie isn’t the only platform where Killmonger will be taking on Black Panther and other heroes. This week, Killmonger came to the mobile game Marvel: Contest of Champions, and Jordan’s video-game expertise came with him.
Until Feb. 21, players can compete in the “Champion Challenge.” If they beat a team of characters assembled by Jordan (consisting of Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine, Black Widow, and Iron Man), they get the title “Wakandan Warrior.” There’s also a special Black Panther-themed event quest, Rise of the Black Panther, which is available until Feb. 28.
EW caught up with Jordan to ask him about Contest of Champions, his long-standing working relationship with Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, and what he’s excited to see fans take away from the film. Check that out below, along with shots of Killmonger as he appears in the game.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you get involved with Marvel: Contest of Champions?
MICHAEL B. JORDAN: With the movie coming out, they wanted to know if I was interested. I love video games, love Marvel, love my character, so it seemed like a no-brainer for me. So we all came together and started this collaboration. As far as my character in the game, there’s lots of head-to-head combat, stuff like that. You can pick your favorite characters, have them fight against each other, and play out epic battles. He’s in there doing what he does best.
Now that Black Panther is upon us, how does it feel seeing your likeness in toys and video games?
It’s surreal, honestly. These little bobbleheads and action figures and stuff. As a kid, I used to have those things and collect them and ask my parents to get them for me for holidays, so to be able to have my own and see kids go crazy over them? It’s pretty incredible. It’s a cool feeling.
You’ve played very heroic figures before, like Adonis Creed and the Human Torch. What’s fun about playing a supervillain this time around?
Being the protagonist usually means being morally correct and being pained with making good decisions all the time. When you’re an antagonist, you can blur those lines and be a little less on-point, morally. There’s less boundaries, you know what I’m saying? You can be a little loose and have a little more fun. It’s dope.
This is your latest film with director Ryan Coogler, after you guys did Creed and Fruitvale Station together. He’s made a lot of cool movies so far, but he doesn’t seem like one for hogging the spotlight. What’s something you like about working with him that maybe we don’t see from the outside?
Yeah, he’s a really shy guy. He’s really humble and wants to make it about everybody else, he doesn’t like the limelight whatsoever. But he’s a super talented guy, super smart. He knows a lot about film, even international cinema. He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s a director who will be right there in the trenches with his actors working. Sometimes when we’re playing these characters, we get put in uncomfortable situations, physically. It can be tough. I remember times I would be freezing cold, and he’d take off his shirt just like my shirt was off so he’ll get cold with me. Or I’ll be lying down for some crazy s— and he’ll be right there with me. That type of leadership from a director earns that trust and builds that bond, it makes you want to run through a brick wall for him. That’s the type of guy he is. I was just happy that everybody in the film that hadn’t worked with him before got to experience that, and now the world will get a chance to see that.
The set for a movie this big must be pretty hectic, so it’s cool that he’s still able to maintain those personal relationships with you all.
Yeah, I mean we started in the trenches together. We started out working an independent film that we weren’t sure was going to work. It ended up doing what it did at Sundance and Cannes, so we raised the bar and did Creed. Now we raised the bar again for this film. I’m just extremely proud of this bond we’ve built that’s pretty special.
There’s a lot of excitement for this film, as indicated by record ticket sales. What are you most excited for fans to see?
I think I’m excited for everybody to take something away from the film that they won’t be expecting. The movie is filled with so much besides the obvious things people are gravitating towards, like the black superhero and black director and black cast. All that stuff is awesome and all true. There’s talks and conversations in the film about identity, culture, history, heritage, love, pain, sorrow, happiness — it’s a lot! I think people going into it will want to see it because it’s Marvel and they’re amazing at what they do. That gets people into the seats that are more open-minded on what they’re gonna leave with. I’m excited for people to have conversations about they watch the movie. We don’t even really know what that’s gonna be like, because nobody’s really seen the film. So I’m excited for the potential of this movie moving forward.