N’Jadaka/Erik Killmonger

It’s time now for the main villain in Black Panther, the man we see donning a ritual mask at the beginning of the trailer, and later taking captive by Wakandan guards: Erik Killmonger, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan. In the movie, he’ll be a Wakandian exiled from his land due to his past crimes, and he’ll come back to his homeland with no good intentions (possibly allied with the mercenary Klaw). We don’t know anything else as for now, but he surely looks menacing…and he’ll hopefully redeem Jordan from his previous Marvel role, a bad Johnny Storm in a worse FF movie. In the meanwhile, let’s meet the original Killmonger.

N’Jadaka was born in an unspecified village in the hidden and secluded nation of Wakanda. When the villainous Klaw attacked Wakanda to steal its Vibranium supplies, N’Jadaka’s village became his headquarters, and he forced the male population to help him in his quest against the country’s protector, Black Panther. N’Jadaka’s father helped Klaw, but he was killed in the following battle; as a punishment, King T’Chaka exiled everyone who had helped Klaw and their families as well, so even young N’Jadaka was kicked out of his homecountry, sent to a foreign land. He moved to the United States of America, specifically to New York City, a place with many souls in which he could have found a new home; he settled in Harlem, where however his anger rose. He hated Klaw for being responsible of his father’s death, and he also hated T’Chaka, whose weakness was the reason Klaw was in Wakanda in the first place. Plotting his revenge, he honed himself into the weapon that would have put an end to T’Chaka’s kingdom and life; he legally changed his name in Erik Killmonger, and he took advantage of the best education the US could offer to him, studying in the Massachussets Institute of Technology and earning a PhD in Engineering. Coming back to Wakanda wouldn’t have been easy, though, but the gods heard Killmonger’s angry prayers, and Prince T’Challa, who had become king after T’Chaka’s death, arrived to New York as a new member of the Avengers. As he paraded in the streets after a new victory, Killmonger introduced himself to him, and told T’Challa his story, on how he had been exiled for his father’s crimes, and how he was a victim of Klaw: his hatred for the mercenary was genuine, but he concealed the one he still harbored against the royal family. T’Challa took pity in his former citizen, and allowed Killmonger to come back to his village. Back home, he could finally obtain his revenge, and he started gathering people that, just like him, had a grudge against the royal family.

The village changed its name into N’Jadaka Village in honor of its new ruler, and Killmonger gathered quite an impressive number of followers, chosen among the rebellious souls whose families had been in contrast with T’Chaka. He promised his men he would have gotten rid of all the “white colonialists’ influence” that had been corrupting Wakanda’s ancient spirit, starting with a king who had opened the country’s borders to his new “friends” from across the ocean. A xenophobic populist, Killmonger became a living legend, and he did create a myth around himself, always presenting himself at the top of physical condition, with a pet leopard called Preyy; he even used the ancient magic of the ruins of the Altar of Resurrection, hid in the forbidden Land of the Chilling Mist, to give supernatural powers to his most trusted agents. When the time came, he sent his Death Regiments to ravage several villages, untill he obtained Black Panther‘s attention: he battled the king on top of the Warrior Falls, and albeit T’Challa managed to kill Preyy, Killmonger overpowered him and threw him down the falls. Black Panther survived out of pure luck, and engaged Killmonger and his men in battle once again: albeit he lost some of his lieutenants, such as Sombre and Venomm, Erik once again bested the king in combat. As he was about to inflict the final blow to his hated enemy, Killmonger was hit from behind by a boy, one of the many he had orphaned while attacking the villages. Losing balance, Killmonger fell into the waterfalls, killed on the rocks below. This, however, wasn’t the end for him, not yet: the warlord Mandarin claimed his body, and he resurrected him using his rings. A minion of the Mandarin now, Killmonger was under his control, and obeyed him in kidnapping Jim Rhodes to lure Iron Man in Wakanda…but his ambition of becoming the new king was far too strong, and he retained his free will, once again challenging Black Panther for the crown. Not even death could quell his neverending hatred for T’Challa.

Erik Killmonger, born N’Jadaka, is an ambitious and pitiless man, a warrior driven by his thirst for vengeance and for power. Thanks to an artificial version of the Heart-Shaped Herb, he obtained powers similar to a Black Panther, namely refined senses, superhuman strength, agility, speed, stamina and durability; he’s Wakanda’s finest warrior, so skilled that not even Black Panther ever managed to best him in one-on-one combat. A revolutionary with a genius level intelligence and a charismatic leader with hundreds of followers, who commands savage beasts and an army of zombie-like soldiers born from the Altar of Resurrection, Killmonger is the greatest living threat to Wakanda’s royalty, a man who channels the rage and the grudge of the many people who feel betrayed, ignored and damaged by the ruling monarchy.

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Jonathan Lowell Spencer Storm (Human Torch)

humantorchfilmAnd finally we arrived to the most controversial character appearing in The Fantastic Four. While most of the casting didn’t cause much reaction, having Michael B. Jordan in the role of blonde and blue-eyed Johnny Storm obviously caused some fan to be a little bit disappointed. Needless to say, this is free advertising for the reboot, and the producers certainly obtained to have their movie talked about with this decision. Whether Jordan will be up to the role or not, time will tell. The Human Torch first appeared on the screen in the unreleased 1994 movie, portrayed by Jay Underwood, even if he sets himself alight rarely in the movie because of low budget (the only time he’s actually aflame is in outer space…with no air to burn…). Chris Evans portrayed Johnny in Fantastic Four and its sequel, and that was a pretty decent portrayal (if you do not count the Super Torch from Rise of the Silver Surfer, pretty useless). Anyway, let’s hope that the character will be given some justice this time…even if I personally doubt it. Let’s see who the true Johnny Storm is, in the meanwhile.

Jonathan Lowell Spencer Storm was the youngest son of Dr. Franklin Storm and his wife Mary. Johnny lived in Long Island with his perfectly normal family, and his older sister Sue usually took care of him, not an easy task since he was pretty troublesome. When he was still a kid, Mary died in a car accident, and Franklin fell to depression and alcoholism: when the former doctor ended up in jail for murder, Johnny was told by Sue that Franklin had actually died, since she didn’t want her brother to know what kind of man his father had become. The humantorchcomics1Storm siblings moved to Glenville, adopted by their paternal aunt Marygay. Despite his mother had been killed in a car accident, Johnny became quite fond of cars, an interest that became a real passion: still little more than a kid, he was a good mechanic already, and he often escaped his sister’s surveilance to drive at not-so-safe speed out of town. In Glenville, Johnny attended the local high school, but he spent most of his time racing with cars and trying to hit on the school’s most beautiful girls, thus worrying both his teachers and his sister. When he was still 15, a local professor, Harry Brandeis, was murdered in his own house: Johnny snuck in to see the crime scene with his own eyes, driven by curiosity, but he ended up discovering the artifact Brandeis was working on, the Amulet of Zarathos. Johnny took the amulet, but this awoke the dormant demon inside, Zarathos himself, who wanted to make the boy his avatar, the Spirit of Vengeance: this also brought to Johnny the attention of Comte St. Germaine, who wanted to use Zarathos’ power to resurrect his master Dracula. Johnny almost accepted Zarathos’ offer to be possessed by him seeing his sister Sue threatened by St. Germaine’s vampires, but Brandeis’ brother, Max Perish, intervened just in time, claiming for himself Zarathos’ powers and destroying St. Germaine and his minions. Following this adventure, Johnny just couldn’t come back to his ordinary life, and his school grades even worsened, but he couldn’t do much but to obey his sister and stay close to her. Three years after, he moved to Central City with Sue, who was following her fiancée Reed Richards in a military base where he would have completed his research on interstellar travel.

When the government decided to shut Reed’s fundings down, the scientist decided he would have tested the ship immediately, in order to prove it actually worked, going against his best friend and pilot Ben Grimm‘s advices. Sue insisted on going with him, and Johnny insisted on accompanying his sister, so the first intergalactic space travel ended up having two passengers. Things went just as Ben had planned, and an unforseen solar storm hit the rocket, humantorchcomics2investing it with cosmic rays that mutated the four explorers’ body. Upon coming back to Earth, Johnny found out he had the ability to set himself on fire without being consumed by the flames, and to manipulate fire and heath at will (he could become so hot he could actually fly): in honor to World War II‘s superhero, he decided to name himself the Human Torch…until at least he was apprehended by the military along with his three companions and put in quarantine. When the newborn group foiled the plans of another evil mutated, Professor Franz Stahl, the officer in charge allowed them to go, now believing in their good intentions. Despite Johnny initially wanted to use his powers to become a celebrity, he was convinced by Reed to use them for a better good and to become a superhero, something just as cool as what he had planned. Together with his sister, Reed and Ben, Johnny moved to New York City, where Reed had rented the top floors of the Baxter Building. Johnny soon discovered that being the Human Torch brought along many privileges, such as all the girls he had dreamt of, and all the exciting speed no car could have ever reached (despite he still loved driving, even if he could now fly). Battling threats such as the Mole Man or the deranged monarch Doctor Doom brought to the Fantastic Four quite a fame, a celebrity Johnny just bathed in: he had all the success he could desire, but he still had to work on the “responsibility stuff” his siter kept demanding from him…

Johnny Storm is a lively and enthusiastic young man, a (literal) hot-head who just thinks of having fun, hitting on girls, driving fancy cars, and playing pranks to his friends (better if Ben Grimm). He deeply loves his sister, whom he considers some sort of surrogate mother, and always stays by her side…even if one of his hobbies seems to be trying Sue’s patience. As the Human Torch, he possesses vast amount of pyrokinesis: he can emit and manipulate fire, he can control the temperature of his flames and give them whatever shape he desires (he can even create “flame doubles” resembling himself or other people), he can fly and he’s immune to burnings or high temperatures; he’s also able to increase his personal heat to the point of becoming a small supernova. Powerful and impulsive, Johnny can be a true hero when he wants…just a pity he doesn’t want it so often.