Michael B Jordan is Killmonger by day, Otaku by night.
As if the world needed another reason to love Marvel’s Black Panther, it turns out one of the film’s lead stars is a huge anime fan.
For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Michael B Jordan plays lead villian Erik Killmonger. Critics are praising the character as one of the most nuanced villians to ever grace the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is funny considering the guy’s name is literally Killmonger. But more importantly, it’s Jordan’s performance as Killmonger that really has fans talking. He bounces between heavy emotional moments and confidently swagger effortlessly, to the point where the audience can’t help but love him.
As is the natural course with anyone the internet loves, Jordan has seen himself become the face of a new meme. And that meme is his not-so-secret love of anime.
It all (arguably) started with an unassuming tweet that noticed Killmonger’s getup in the movie looked a little familiar. Though it’s not a perfect recreation, Jordan strikes a definite resemblance to Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z. Considering the parallels between Killmonger and Vegeta (at least in the early seasons of Dragon Ball Z), the irony was not lost on fans.
The more people dived deeper into Michael B Jordan’s past tweets and interviews, the more it seemed like this subtle reference might not be coincidence. During Vogue’s “73 Questions With Michael B. Jordan” video from 2017, the star is asked to name the place in world he would love to go to. After two seconds of deliberation, Jordan responds with “Tokyo, Japan.”
“Oh man I’m obsessed,” Jordan tells the interviewer. “Anime, it’s the best.”
Perhaps even more amusing is a 2014 video from PopSugar video featuring Jordan alongside Zac Efron and Miles Teller. During what is basically a round of The Newlywed Game, Jordan’s two costars are asked to guess what his guilty pleasure is. When he flips over his card to reveal his answer, it turns out his answer is “Women”… with “Anime” quickly scribbled out underneath it. I can understand the last minute change: he clearly doesn’t feel guilty about watching anime.
Last but not least are a number of tweets from Jordan himself in reference to Anime. From these we know that he gets his anime from Anime Avenue (which seems to be now defunct from what I can tell) and he’s definitely into Naruto. Though he hasn’t name dropped many other titles he specifically likes (aside from One Punch Man and Dragon Ball Z), he did strongly imply that he’s only listed well known titles for “the anime uneducated.” Not that there would be anything wrong with strictly liking mainstream stuff, of course. You don’t exactly have to be writing your thesis statement on Evangelion before you can openly admit you like anime.
Having said that, now that all eyes are on Michael B Jordan and his eastern tastes in media, we really want to know how far it goes. Does Jordan keep a Blu-ray library in his man cave? Has he memorized all the lyrics to Snow Halation? Could he be persuaded to play Kamina in a live action Gurren Lagaan? Okay, I guess we’re only really interested in the first question, but the other two still stand. Anime is one of those things that’s technically mainstream but still mostly a “nerd” thing, so who could blame fans for being fascinated with Jordan about this? Even if he’s just a Naruto fanboy, I think the world would still love to hear him geek out at length about this hobby.
At the end of the day, is there any definitive evidence that Jordan actually collects anime in any capacity? Not yet. Does it really matter? Well, I mean, if you’re writing a column called Celebrity Inventory it kind of does. But otherwise, not really. The internet will continue to love Jordan for his incredible acting skills, and Marvel’s Black Panther is set to dominate box office charts for the foreseeable future.
But… I mean, the Avengers did cross over with Attack on Titan, so is it really that outlandish to imagine Jordan’s dreams coming true in a Black Panther and Dragon Ball Z crossover? I mean, come on. Come ooooooon.
Oh well, a guy can dream.