Michael B. Jordan on ‘no hesitation’ to acting in another superhero movie
In 2012, actor Michael B. Jordan found himself at the center of genre talk with the fan-favorite superhero movie Chronicle. A self-professed nerd with a long history of reading comic books, Jordan was right on the verge of a big break in Hollywood. Fast forward to 2015, he has two high profile films coming out: a sequel/spin-off to the Rocky franchise titled Creed and a reboot of the comic book property Fantastic Four. Both deam projects for Jordan, and they’re being released just months apart. One of the films gained him critical acclaim and universal praise, the other was “awarded” three Razzies, including Worst Picture.
Despite the critical failure of his first attempt at a comic book role, Jordan wasn’t dissuaded. When Creed director Ryan Coogler was brought in to helm Marvel’s long-awaited Black Panther, an opportunity presented itself. Coogler hadn’t made a movie without Jordan, and when it came time to find the main villain of the movie, someone who could go toe-to-toe with Chadwick Boseman’s title hero, Coogler knew who to call. But would Jordan’s past experiences with the often vicious world of comic book movies and fans dissuade him?
“Zero hesitation to do another comic book movie,” Jordan told us on the set of the film. “No hesitation, really, to do another comic book film. I’m a geek, I love this world, I love being able to play in that fantastic kind of space. I looked at it as another shot to get it right, to do it again, and especially teaming up with (Director of Photography) Rachel (Morrison) again and Ryan, it’s a very comfortable space with me. It’s the perfect space for me to take another risk like this, so it was no hesitation on my part.”
Jordan takes on the role of Erik Killmonger, a character that has his sights set on Wakanda after the death of King T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War. He’ll have to go through the Black Panther to get to it though.
“I feel like it’s more of resentment,” Jordan says of Killmonger’s feelings about the hero. “I feel like there’s more of a jealousy aspect. It’s always interesting to train for an enemy you’ve never met before, so it’s a lot of studying him from afar, and I feel like he’s very patient. He’s a thinker. He’s really good at chess, and he was waiting for his perfect time to pop up.”
“The interesting comparison we’ve been making, and this is going to sound crazy, but we’ve always thought of Black Panther as a James Bond kind of movie,” producer Nate Moore adds. “But in talking with Ryan Coogler one of the ideas he also liked was this sort of ‘Godfather’-kind of story. When I say ‘Godfather,’ it’s the idea that it’s very much a story about family and a story about an organization where new leadership is taking place. And much like ‘The Godfather,’ you have to fight for things, right? And they’re all vying for power and in this case, it’s power over Wakanda. I think Killmonger sees Wakanda as something that could be used differently than it currently is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that puts him directly at odds with T’Challa.”
As he sits in front of us for his on-set interview, Jordan literally holds a piece of paper including all the information he isn’t allowed to mention about the movie. It’s been crumpled up as he folds it closed after every glance. He double checks it after every question, sometimes even shrugging at some questions he simply can’t answer. Jordan did offer a great anecdote to summarize Killmonger though, saying:
“There’s two sides to every coin and true villains. I think the really good ones and the interesting ones, the watchable ones, truly believe what they’re doing is the right thing. And if you can somehow blur that line for the people who we’re supposed to not like them, like maybe I’m not supposed to be on board with this – if you can kind of get them to see that other point of view, I think the battle’s won.”
When asked if he could summarize the character with just one word, Jordan studies his paper with a glance then pulls the unit publicist aside, whispering in her ear to clarify if his answer is a spoiler or not. She gives him a nod of approval and Jordan relays six syllables to us.
Black Panther arrives in theaters on February 16.