One big complaint from fans about the MCU is the lack of compelling villains. But over the years, Marvel has gotten much better with its villains and one that stands out to many as one of the best, if not the best, villains to date is Erik Killmonger. As the antagonist of 2018's Black Panther, Killmonger not only had a physical threat capable of matching T'Challa's, but he also had one of the best backstories and motivating forces of any cinematic character.
In part, his mission to get the Wakandan throne was to get revenge for his father's death at the hands of T'Chaka, but it is his resentment for the Wakandan ideology and their isolationist policies that he thought was the cause of Black oppression across the planet Earth that made him such a compelling character. Despite his understandable motives, as with all villains, Killmonger eventually went too extreme at times, undermining his initial aims.
10 Justified: His Personal Philosophy Made Perfect Sense
Thanos is the perfect example of a villain with a personal philosophy which he truly beliefs and would do anything to accomplish, but despite his genuine concern for the existence of life in the universe, the way he went about achieving his goal was incredibly evil and should never have occurred. Killmonger also has a strong philosophy and belief, but unlike Thanos, he can achieve the goal without killing half of all life, or without violence of any sort.
All Killmonger wanted to do was to naturally change the world and make it a better place by sharing the wealth of resources and knowledge at the hands of the Wakandans, which definitely has validity.
9 Too Far: Breaking A Well-Known Villain Out From Wakandan Custody
In one of the coldest villain introductions of all time, Killmonger's very first appearance came in the form of a heist. After observing some African artifacts in a museum, some of which are actually Wakandan and contain Vibranium, Killmonger is joined by well-known, Vibranium-obsessed villain name Klaue as the two work together to steal the vibranium hammer.
Not only did he start off with a crime, but Killmonger was also working with one of Wakandan's biggest foes ever since he stole a whole load of Vibranium from their country before (some of which was used to create Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Killmonger goes a step further by later breaking him out of T'Challa's custody.
8 Justified: Revenge For His Father N'Jobu
Black Panther had one of the saddest flashback moments of the entire MCU. This scene saw a younger T'Chaka confront his brother N'Jobu and kill him for betraying his country, but worse yet, it left his son Erik all alone in Oakland where he had to fend for himself after the King leaves him behind in California rather than taking him back with them to Wakanda.
So despite all his actions which may have crossed the line, they all began thanks to an incredibly evil move by T'Challa's father which left a young boy without a father and all alone in America.
7 Too Far: Killing Klaue Was Pure Evil From Killmonger
Despite all the things that Klaue had done in his life, he still deserved a trial in front of the Wakandan council to determine his punishment and shouldn't have been killed the way he was. When Killmonger was on the verge of finally confronting the Wakandan throne and getting revenge on his family, he had to deal with Klaue and his men first.
Not only did he kill all of Klaue's men and Klaue himself, but Killmonger also shot his girlfriend to death without any real hesitation, showing just how far he would go to complete his mission— but also how far beyond the line he had already crossed on his journey to that very point in time.
6 Justified: T'Challa Agreed & Carried On His Legacy
A lot of his actions in the movie were unacceptable, but Killmonger's death at the end of the movie was still incredibly heartbreaking, even to the point that T'Challa offered to save his life in return. In fact, his death impacted T'Challa so much that he agreed with some of his ideas and ended up opening Wakanda up to the rest of the world, against his father's wishes.
This kind of redeems Killmonger's actions and showed just how relatable his character and ideologies were for the King of Wakanda to take them on board and change the policies used by that kingdom for generations.
5 Too Far: Almost Killing T'Challa In The Epic Waterfall Fight Scene
One of the most memorable moments for the Black Panther movie was the epic waterfall duel scene, but it was at this moment that viewers realized just how ruthless and angry Killmonger really was. The vengeful Killmonger went head to head with T'Challa, now without his Black Panther enhancements, and thanks to his insane fighting ability is able to defeat T'Challa.
Things get worse when Zuri stops the fight and reveals his identity to Killmonger. Some might have thought this would make him stop and think for a minute, but instead, Killmonger preceded to try and kill both Zuri and T'Challa to claim the throne for himself and throw T'Challa off the cliff in dramatic style.
4 Justified: He Grew Up In A World He Wanted To Help
When N'Jobu was killed by the Wakandan King, the young Erik was left without anybody he knew in the city of Oakland. Not only would the death of his father been incredibly heartbreaking, but having to live on his own and fend for himself would have made it a lot worse. This upbringing made him who he was and ultimately made him aware of black oppression across the world.
While the Wakandans appeared oblivious to the outside world's struggles thanks to their resources and wealth, Killmonger knew exactly how harsh and evil the world was and wanted to make it a better place.
3 Too Far: Burning The Heart-Shaped Herb & Destroying Wakanda's Legacy
Although his motives were fairly convincing, the way he went into Wakanda and destroyed years of history and tradition in an instant was too far. Not only did he immediately take over the throne after violently killing T'Challa and Zuri, Killmonger is already lost and broken at this point, and his actions were very ruthless.
One moment that perfectly shows this was the burning of the heart-shaped herbs, which for many years were the cornerstone of Wakandan tradition and gave the King the powers of the Black Panther to help them become the protector of the kingdom. While Killmonger might have wanted to change their ways and how they do things, destroying decades of tradition almost immediately was quite extreme.
2 Justified: He Had A Rightful Claim To The Wakandan Throne
In Killmonger's second cold opening, this time to the Wakandans, he announces himself to the kingdom after killing Klaue, who the council wanted dead, and then reveals the bombshell that was his identity.
Although he hadn't been a part of the family for practically his whole life, Erik Killonger was still the son of Prince N'Jobu and the cousin of the now King T'Challa, which after all makes him a rightful claim to challenge T'Challa for the throne. Once again, this doesn't pardon him from his actions, but it does mean he was justified in wanting to change Wakanda's way and be a part of the family there, a right that was taken away from him by T'Chaka when he was a child.
1 Too Far: His Violent Plan Made Him Lose Sight Of His Motives
With the right intentions and less anger running through his blood, Killmonger could have actually been a pretty good King of Wakanda, but his violent background as a specialist black-ops mercenary and then his plans to use Wakanda's technology, most importantly Vibranium, to conquer the world and rule the entire human race took things to a darker place than they needed to go to.
T'Challa's plan as a result of Killmonger's influence, to open up Wakanda to the world and share its knowledge and resources with other countries, was the better way to do it and showed that Killmonger was too vengeful and angry to become a great King.