Black Panther: Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger Theme Origin Revealed By Composer

By Jennifer McDonough Posted:
Michael B Jordan Killmonger Black Panther

Grammy Award-winning Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson has gained a ton of notoriety in recent years, scoring high-profile projects like Tenet, Creed, and The Mandalorian . But MCU fans may know him best as the man who gave Wakanda its musical soundscape. Indeed, Göransson's composing work on Marvel Studios' groundbreaking film, Black Panther nabbed him an Academy Award for "Best Original Score".

Göransson's Black Panther score ranged from royal-sounding horns, to more nuanced woodwinds and even some hip hop-style beats for the theme of Michael B. Jordan's Erik "Killmonger" Stevens.


Michael B Jordan Killmonger Black Panther Mueseum

In an interview with Pitchfork , Ludwig Göransson broke down his most iconic scores, including Black Panther. In the video, which can be seen below, he discusses an instrument called the talking drum which was used in many key moments in the film, including T'Challa's own theme:

"You can basically say words and communicate with this drum and I was asking [the musician who plays the drum] "How would you say "T'Challa" on the talking drum." And he played me the rhythm. That became part of T'Challa's theme."

Göransson also talked about Killmonger's theme, revealing that the song originated when musician Amadou Ba "started playing crazy screaming through the flute" while screaming "Killmonger names" through the instrument:

"[Amadou Ba] was almost singing into the flute and it gave it such a special character. And I was like, okay well this could be interesting for Killmonger's character. I told [the musician] about Killmonger and his part of the story and his character. After I gave him that story, the flute player kind of transformed into a completely different person and started playing this crazy screaming through the flute and like, screamed Killmonger names through the flute."

The composer shared that when he passed the song on to Black Panther director, Ryan Coogler, Coogler in turn passed the tune onto Michael B. Jordan, who used it to help prep for his role in the film.


It's no wonder that Göransson's composing for Black Panther earned him one of the film industry's highest honors, an Academy Award. He also took home a Grammy for the MCU blockbuster and was nominated for a Golden Globe as well.

It's certainly fascinating to hear Göransson talk about working on the film in his own words. It seems as though he sought out the best talent to play the unique and specific instruments required Panther 's music.

The sequel to the film is due out on July 8, 2022. It's unconfirmed if Ludwig Göransson will again take up scoring duties but given his frequent collaborations with the film’s returning director, Ryan Coogler, it does seem quite likely.

- About The Author: Jennifer McDonough
Jennifer McDonough has been a writer at The Direct since its 2020 launch. She is responsible for the creation of news articles and features. She also has a particular affinity for action figures and merchandise, which she revels in discussing in the articles she writes, when the situation calls for it.