The heroes of the MCU must have thought they were pretty hot stuff after ten years of taking down various supervillains across multiple movies, but they came completely unstuck when fighting Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, resulting in a truly apocalyptic finale that shocked audiences. But maybe things could have been different if the climx of Black Panther had ended with Killmonger on the throne rather than T’Challa?
Michael B. Jordan, who starred as the villain, certainly thinks so, as when AV Club asked him whether he thought Killmonger could have tipped the balance, he said that the character would’ve already had a plan for taking down the Mad Titan:
“I think the one thing about Killmonger is he really plans his attacks, and they’re well thought out. So if he ever stepped in a situation with Thanos, he would feel confident that he had the upper hand—at the very least, he would know he had a shot. So I mean, we already know that Erik’s willing to sacrifice himself for a greater good, so I don’t think he’s ever fearful of losing his life. So I think if he ever stepped in front of Thanos, he’d already have a plan for taking him down.”
It’s true, Killmonger was a determined, ruthless adversary who would not’ve hesitated to play dirty. Were he there, it’s unquestionable that, for example, he would’ve sacrificed Vision without a second thought and been a lot more willing to use extreme preventative tactics against Thanos and his army. Also helping his case is that if Killmonger were on the Wakandan throne, then we could assume that his plan to spread Wakandan military technology around the world was a success, making the planet less of an easy target.
Despite all that, it’s notable that Jordan very carefully couches his words, saying “if he ever stepped into a situation with Thanos” repeatedly. As talented a soldier and fighter as Killmonger was, he’s still just a man, and is unlikely to last very long in a physical head-to-head with the Mad Titan. Still, you have to admit the character’s cunning and strong sense of tactics may have made things turn out very differently.
Whether the end would justify the means is another story, but it certainly gives food for thought on which other defeated MCU villains might have turned the tide in Avengers: Infinity War.