'Black Panther': How Did Killmonger Find Wakanda?

Black Panther is finally in theaters, thrilling fans and breaking box office records in the process. The hype is real, especially when it comes to Michael B. Jordan's villainous Killmonger who is getting nothing but praise from fans and critics alike for his portrayal of Wakanda's would-be usurper.

But how did Killmonger find Wakanda, considering that the advanced African nation has taken great pains to hide itself from the world? It's a question that the film answers in a pivotal, heartbreaking scene.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Marvel's Black Panther. Continue reading beyond this point at your own risk.

In Black Panther, the fact that the real Wakanda is hidden from the rest of the world is a critical part of the story. Remaining hidden allows the nation to remain untouched and allows them to protect their massive stores of vibranium. However, despite the nation being virtually invisible, Killmonger manages to not only find Wakanda, but despite being raised in Oakland, California far, far away from the nation of his father's birth, he also speaks Wakandan. How is that possible?

The answer is revealed when, after appearing to defeat T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in a ritual combat challenge for the Wakandan throne, Killmonger is sent on a vision quest of sorts during the ritual with the heart-shaped herb that gives him Black Panther powers. While T'Challa's vision during his own ritual took him into the Wakandan countryside where he was reunited with the spirit of his father, Killmonger's vision took him back to the Oakland projects of his youth. There it's suggested that following his father N'Jobu's (Sterling K. Brown) death, a young Killmonger discovered his father's secret stash. That stash contained Wakandan maps, what appears to be a journal, and a royal ring identical to T'Challa's.

N'Jobu's journals specifically are very detailed. They contain the exact coordinates of Wakanda's location and it appears that they are written in both Wakandan and English, the translations likely being the source of Killmonger's language skills. The sequence also reveals that while N'Jobu kept much of the truth about Wakanda a secret from his son, even in the afterlife he bears deep regret about not having taken his son home, leading to the explanation that, to Wakanda, both he and Killmonger are consider "lost."

The heartbreaking scene explains how Killmonger acquired the knowledge and understanding of his Wakandan heritage and ties it all together with his motivations. Before he was killed by T'Chaka, N'Jobu conspired with Klaue (Andy Serkis) to steal vibranium that he was going to use in turn to arm and empower the people of his community in Oakland as his experience as a "War Dog" Wakandan spy in Oakland revealed to him the level of suffering those of African descent were experiencing outside of utopia-like Wakanda. N'Jobu's murder, along with living through that suffering -- and it's never exactly revealed what Killmonger's childhood was like after the loss of his father -- set Killmonger's purpose. He spent his life training in black ops and racking up his kills all around the world as part of the military in preparation for the day he would partner up with Klaue as part of a very long game to overthrow Wakanda and enact his late father's plan on a global scale. Killmonger even made the de-stabilization of nations his specialty, so the lost Wakandan prince knew exactly when to strike his ancestral home.

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While Killmonger's incredibly detailed plan didn't exactly play out perhaps quite the way he would have wanted to -- he is ultimately killed by T'Challa -- he did somewhat succeed. Killmonger's tragic life served as a huge motivation for T'Challa to reject Wakanda's isolationism and reach out to the world. In the final scene of the movie, T'Challa goes to Oakland for himself, buying Killmonger's childhood home and several other rundown buildings in the neighborhood to create the first-ever Wakandan outreach center to help the community.

Black Panther is now in theaters. It will be followed by Avengers: Infinity War on May 4th, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.