As if there weren’t already tons of layers to Marvel’s Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan has added yet another layer of richness to the film with his reasoning for Killmonger’s scars.
While speaking at the 47th AFI Life Achievement Gala in honor of Denzel Washington, Jordan revealed that the inspiration for the scars was none other than Washington’s role in Glory. One of the pivotal scenes from the 1991 Civil War-era film is when Washington’s character, Pvt. Silas Trip, reveals tons of scars on his back from his time as a slave. The reveal is especially poignant since, in that same scene, Silas is whipped yet again, this time by a Union Army officer under the command of Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick).
“I remember hearing stories about you and I heard stories that when you were huddled around the campfire in that film, you weren’t supposed to be shirtless but you still had the scars put on your back, so you could feel it, so you could know what your character’s been through,” said Jordan. “I tell you right now tonight brother, that’s the only reason why Killmonger when I played that role, I had those scars, even when I wasn’t shirtless because of you, so I want to say thank you for that.”
Jordan’s role as Killmonger already spawned huge debate with viewers regarding how the film examined the intraracial divides between African Americans and Africans from the continent. While T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) represented a people who knew their culture and customs, Killmonger represented African Americans who still endure similar injustices as their enslaved ancestors. Even though Killmonger’s scars are presented in the film as his way of paying penance for those he’s killed to get to Wakanda, we can now see that they serve a dual purpose of recognizing the physical and invisible scars enslaved Africans and their descendants still carry.
Photo: Marvel Studios/TriStar