‘Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan Explains Why He Doesn’t Say “Wakanda Forever”

Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan typically avoids “Wakanda forever” salutations because his jaded Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens grew up in Oakland, California, far from the utopia African kingdom ruled by native King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman).

“Yes. Yes, they do,” Jordan told The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon when asked if he continues to receive the greeting almost a year after the blockbuster’s release.

“But they don’t understand, I’m not from Wakanda, technically. That’s a Chadwick thing. So when they say ‘Wakanda forever,’ low-key I’m still in character, like, ‘Nah, that ain’t me,’ [laughs].”

Born N’Jadaka, the son of Wakandan Prince N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) — the radicalized younger brother of then-King T’Chaka (John Kani, Atandwa Kani)— the deadly Killmonger grew up resenting Wakanda, later returning to disrupt the kingdom and overthrow its freshly crowned king as part of a plot to use the country’s resources to enact his own form of brutal retribution on an oppressive world.

Though he hasn’t embraced the Marvel Studios blockbuster’s famed catchphrase as much as co-stars Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Winston Duke — whose characters are Wakandan-born — Jordan is proud Black Panther was embraced the world over, particularly in the black community.

“That movie, honestly, and what it did, the impact that it made in the community in the world, especially for our culture — just representation, man. Being able to see yourself up on screen in a positive way that’s not stereotypical. That’s a position of power, of royalty, regular family dynamics, having history, having that culture, that mythology there was extremely important,” Jordan said.

“Especially Halloween. You know, used to see all these memes, and you see all these costumes and these little kids, these little boys with permanent marker beards looking like Killmonger. And you see all these little girls dressed up like [Wakandan special forces] Dora Milaje, with these bald caps on, stuff like that. And just having that sense of pride of where you come from, your sense of identity, I think, is really powerful.”

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Black Panther went on to earn $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of all time, the third-highest grossing earner of all time domestically, and the biggest domestic champion for 2018 at $700 million — making it just the third film in history to reach that financial milestone.

Jordan and his co-stars earned a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Black Panther emerged as the first superhero film to earn a Best Picture - Drama nomination at this year’s Golden Globes.