The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a sprawling film franchise, and it gets even bigger with the release of Black Panther. Critical praise highlights the film’s look, the impressive cast, and work from director Ryan Coogler.
One actor in particular stands out. While heroes have been the focus of every film in the MCU, the villains, for the most part, have left fans wanting. But Michael B. Jordan’s character Erik Killmonger is one of the best MCU villains to date. Jordan has been the focus of reviews, and his work stands tall in the film.
The critical praise for Michael B. Jordan’s performance is hardly surprising. Over the last decade, he’s proven himself as an actor time and again. A role on HBO’s The Wire jump-started his career, with other TV work following until 2012, when he landed his first major film role. In preparation for Black Panther, let’s take look at Jordan’s impressive career and countdown his best roles to date.
Black Panther marks Micahel B. Jordan’s third film with director Ryan Coogler, and Fruitvale Station was the film that sparked their professional relationship. Fruitvale Station, based on a true story, depicts events leading up to the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III. Jordan portrays Grant, who in real life was shot in the back by a police officer while riding a BART train in Oakland.
Coogler was awarded the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance in 2013 for his work on Fruitvale Station. That’s impressive, given that it was his directorial debut. Michael B. Jordan was also praised for his work in the film, and his work stood as the breakout performance of the year. Yet while Fruitvale Station marked Michael B. Jordan’s first major dramatic role, his second endeavor with Coogler would launch his career into the stratosphere.
Audiences didn’t know what to make of Creed when it was first announced. While the film sought to build on the Rocky franchise, that once-great film series had floundered more than once. Creed revitalized a beloved franchise, and truly put Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan on the map. This second outing for the pair was a knockout, and the surprise hit of 2015.
Jordan plays Adonis Creed, the son of former heavyweight champ Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa’s one-time rival and eventual friend. A skilled boxer in his own right, Adonis hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps. The young fighter approaches Rocky to be his trainer, and their evolving relationship parallels Adonis’s development as a fighter.
Many parallels can be drawn between Rocky and Creed, but the most important commonality is the triumph of the human spirit. Creed was essentially a passing of the torch from one generation to the next. With Jordan as the lead, the future is bright for the franchise. Jordan’s heartfelt performance was remarkable, but he also proved that he could also elevate the cast surrounding him, including Sylvester Stallone, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Creed was a huge leap forward in Jordan’s career and one of his finest performances.
Chronicle was Josh Trank’s directorial debut, and flew under the radar prior to its 2012 debut. But early reviews suggested that the found-footage sci-fi film was something special. Indeed, Trank, his cast, and writer Max Landis crafted a story that was nothing short of remarkable.
The film follows three high school students, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), who come into contact with a non-terrestrial object. After exposure to the object, they start to exhibit telekinetic abilities. The young men initially have little in common, but they bond over their new-found powers. As those powers grow, however, Andrew becomes unstable, and begins to lash out at his friends.
Jordan’s character, Steve Montgomery, is the “popular kid” archetype, but his performance shatters expectations. His raw charisma and genuine likability make him a joy to watch, but his compassion for his friends makes him a highlight of the film. Jordan’s personality, alongside with DeHaan’s intensity and Trank’s superb direction, make Chronicle one of a kind.
Catch Black Panther when it hits theaters on February 16, 2018.