Amongst all the stunning reasons why Black Panther will go down in history as one of the best MCU films, the backstory of the film's villain Erik "Killmonger" Stevens is high on the list. Sometimes the development of a movie's antagonist is just as important as its hero, and the emotional unveiling of the motivations of Michael B. Jordan's character contributed to giving Black Panther a powerful message.
In the third act of the film when Killmonger forcefully becomes King of Wakanda, he enters the Ancestral Plane to see his late father N'Jobu just as T'Challa does in the beginning of Black Panther. Killmonger sees his father before him in the same room where N'Jobu died at the hand of his brother, T'Chaka. Killmonger then opens his dad's journal, where he grabs a necklace holding a ring and puts it around his neck before having an emotional moment with N'Jobu. YouTube user Aznmarty256 (via Reddit) took the time to pause when Killmonger is sifting through N'Jobu's journal and transcribe exactly what he wrote to his son. Take a look:
Ungubani? Who are you? I asked this question of myself many times. Often times, I do not know. But I do know I am no longer the man my country knew.
Maybe love? My son?
It has all changed me. T'Chaka must see what we can do, how we can change the course of time for the people who struggle so much in this land. Strangers to me, but my brothers and sisters still. How can I look at them, with the same skin as me, stolen from the same place I came from and not reach out to them? How can I sit idly by and watch in pain and return to Wakanda as if there was nothing to see at all?
Who am I? A war dog who will not leave the lost tribe behind again. Who are you, my son? You will ask this one day and know the answer:
N'Jadaka, son of N'Jobu.
Prince N'Jobu Ungubani, played by Sterling K. Brown, moved from the confines of Wakanda to Oakland, California to serve as an outside spy for the country. He met and fell in love with an American woman, who was later revealed to be in prison when N'Jobu died by Ryan Coogler. The film's director said in the film's commentary that during the prologue when N'Jobu and Zuri were speaking before T'Chaka appears, they were trying to figure out how to break her out of prison. While N'Jobu grew up in luxury of Wakanda, when he set up his family life in Oakland, he was faced with the black community's struggles in America.
This heartbreaking letter shows the guilt N'Jobu feels now becoming tied to his new home in California, which likely lead him to steal from his own, but plentiful home country of Wakanda. As shown in Black Panther, N'Jobu was caught by his brother and accidentally killed by him in an altercation. These events lead to the rise of his son N'Jadaka (Killmonger). The villain grew up without parents and had little to go on besides a journal entry such as this. Killmonger likely spent his whole life reading these over and over, thinking of a way to do right by his father. He, however, became very vengeful and violent, leading to an unhappy ending for him.
Killmonger's story brought up an especially significant message that ultimately lead to Black Panther making the decision to work with other countries and improve life for black communities besides those living in the fantastical Wakanda. The letter transcription shows how thought-out the story is and gives us a window into the mind of Killmonger's father, N'Jobu.