Black Panther’s Erik Killmonger has quickly emerged as one of the most fascinating entries in the MCU’s rogues gallery, a group of characters who—with a few notable exceptions—had mostly previously been home to flatly drawn C-listers like Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Ronan The Accuser and whatever Corey Stoll’s deal in Ant-Man was. Killmonger has a lot of things going for him in his climb to the top of the Marvel bad guy heap—charisma, cunning, Michael B. Jordan’s orthodontically destructive abs—but his most powerful asset is a deeply sympathetic backstory and motivation. (To the point that it almost feels like Ryan Coogler and company had to emphasize his dickishness in the film’s latter half, just so people wouldn’t be rooting for the “bad guy” entirely.)
Now, Coogler has revealed even more of Erik’s baggage, and, unsurprisingly, it’s just as sad as everything else about his early life. This is per The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that Coogler gets into what’s up with Killmonger’s mom—an American woman who fell in love with his father, Wakandan prince N’Jobu, and who’s never seen in the film itself—in the movie’s commentary track. In fact, her fate is apparently the topic of the discussion between N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) and a young Zuri (Denzel Whitaker) in the movie’s opening scene; they were supposedly planning on breaking her out of prison when N’Jobu’s brother T’Chaka shows up to spoil the plot.
Coogler doesn’t go into extensive details about why Killmonger’s mom was in jail—her intimate connection with a would-be terrorist and arms dealer probably didn’t help—but does note that she died in prison shortly after N’Jobu’s death, just in case you were looking for another reason to feel bad for poor little Erik in his younger, pre-attempted genocide days.