After years of speculation, Marvel fans were able to see the return of Michael B. Jordan returned Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as Erik Killmonger. However, instead of returning as his living version, he returned as a vision in the Ancestral Plane after Shuri ingested the Heart-Shaped Herb to obtain the powers of the Black Panther. Of course, this seems odd because the interaction between the two characters was minimal at best in the first movie. So, why did Erik Killmonger appear in the Ancestral Plane?
Erik Killmonger appeared in the Ancestral Plane in Wakanda Forever because he and Shuri had the same mindsets and reasons for becoming the Black Panther at that time. When Shuri ingested the Heart-Shaped Herb, she wanted to take revenge on Namor for the death of her mother, and that was why she and Killmonger were alike.
It is worth mentioning that when Killmonger became the king of Wakanda in the first Black Panther movie, he wanted to take revenge for the death of his father and was seemingly willing to see the entire world burn because of it. So, in a sense, he and Shuri were alike, as that was Shuri’s mindset in Wakanda Forever. Now, let’s get to know more about why Killmonger was in the Ancestral Plane.
What Is Erik Killmonger’s Role In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?
We know for a fact that, back in the first Black Panther movie, the main antagonist was Erik Killmonger, who had returned to Wakanda to try to claim his position as the king of the secluded African nation. In that regard, he was able to defeat T’Challa in ritual combat to earn the mantle of the Black Panther and ascend to the throne of Wakanda. Of course, we saw T’Challa getting back at him when he defeated Killmonger in their final showdown and even killed him.
That said, we also know that T’Challa is already dead, considering that the actor, Chadwick Boseman, had died quite a while ago already. This meant that there was a massive hole left in the storyline as there was no king that could claim the Black Panther role. People speculated that Michael B. Jordan, who played Killmonger, would return as a changed man to become the new Black Panther.
Of course, while we do know that Killmonger never returned to become the new hero and protector of Wakanda, we also saw in the movie that he actually returned. So, why did Erik Killmonger return to Wakanda Forever, and what was his role?
When Erik Killmonger returned in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it was not in the same capacity as his appearance in the first movie when he was still alive. Instead, he was already dead in the second movie as he appeared as a soul in the Ancestral Plane, which we know is the afterlife that Wakandans go to whenever they ingest the Heart-Shaped Herb.
This happened during the time when Shuri was working hard to find a way to recreate the Heart-Shaped Herb, as all of the herbs were destroyed by Killmonger in the first movie. During the early part of the movie, Shuri was clearly trying to create a synthetic version of the herb because Wakanda needed a protector that could take the mantle of the Black Panther, considering that T’Challa was already dead. However, it was only when Shuri got a sample of a similar herb from Namor that she was finally able to create a synthetic version of this herb.
So, when Shuri ingested the synthetic Heart-Shaped Herb and supposedly died when she went to the Ancestral Plane, that was when she met Erik Killmonger. The former villain greeted his younger cousin with open arms as he believed that she had summoned him there. And that was when things got interesting because we saw a pretty great interplay between two characters that didn’t have any sort of meaningful interaction during the first movie.
Why Did Erik Killmonger Appear In The Ancestral Plane?
As mentioned, Shuri ingested the Heart-Shaped Herb and found herself in the Ancestral Plane. But, instead of meeting her mother, brother, or father, she met Killmonger instead. So, why did Erik Killmonger appear in the Ancestral Plane?
Back in the events of Moon Knight, Taweret said that there are many versions of the afterlife, depending on the mindset and the beliefs of the people involved. She also said that the Ancestral Plane was one of the many different versions of the afterlife, as it can be suggested that those who enter the Ancestral Plane have a certain degree of control over what they would see there.
That was what happened when Erik Killmonger ingested the Heart-Shaped Herb in the first movie to become the new Black Panther. Instead of being taken to the usual Ancestral Plane, he was taken to his childhood apartment as his father was there to greet him. In that regard, he was taken to that place and was able to meet his father because that was a familiar place to him and because he wanted to avenge his father’s death.
In Shuri’s case, Erik Killmonger appeared in her version of the Ancestral Plane because their mindsets were similar at that time. Shuri was adamant about recreating the Heart-Shaped Herb because she wanted the power to protect her people at a time when Wakanda needed to be protected the most. But, at the same time, she wanted to avenge the death of her mother.
So, when she ingested the herb, she believed that it was her mother that was going to appear in her Ancestral Plane as she was the one who was in Shuri’s thoughts at that time. However, it was Killmonger who appeared because he was still one of Shuri’s dead relatives and was the one who could understand what she was feeling at that time.
Even though Shuri wanted the power to protect her people, it was still her desire for revenge that reigned over her heart and mind, and that was what made her similar to Killmonger. As Killmonger suggested, Shuri was not like T’Challa, who was too noble to kill the man that was responsible for King T’Chaka’s death. Instead, he was suggesting that his younger cousin was a lot more like him because they knew what needed to be done—to kill Namor for revenge and to stop the war between Wakanda and Talokan.
In that regard, it is clear that the Ancestral Plane doesn’t only respond to the will of the Wakandan involved but is also dependent on the inner desires of the person, regardless of whether or not they were aware of their desires. That was the case for Shuri, who harbored vengeance in her heart, whether or not she was aware of it. And that was the very same reason why Erik Killmonger appeared to her in the Ancestral Plane instead of any of her other ancestors.