It’s about time we talked about Michael Bakari Jordan. Here we have an actor who continues to evolve with every new role that’s put in front of him. From honest, underdog roles to some gritty underrated ones, his time in a mainstream blockbuster success has been long overdue. It was only three years ago that we saw him make an impact as Adonis Johnson in Creed, the contemporary and powerful installment in the Rocky universe. Luckily, a second one is in the works. Jordan is an actor best utilized for his critical growth. He has the guts to keep going harder, further, and do it all gracefully. When you step back and take a look at Jordan’s recent resume, it reveals a stunning physicality that demands to be seen, and boy, the world is here for it. Don’t let the striking first layer fool you. Michael B. Jordan looks to be a household name in the making; legendary, even.
Sylvester Stallone himself couldn’t steal any momentum from Michael B. Jordan in Creed even if he tried to. Jordan is a force of nature in that one. The film skyrocketed to success and high praises, with the help of Jordan’s solid performance and the fact that it was so well shot as a boxing film, always keeping us aware of its direction and distinguished glory. Jordan carries his competitive mentality to the job and allows his heavyweight performances do the talking on the big screen. He’s quoted to always think of his career as a competition with himself. Yes, the prospect of success over other working actors fuels him, but it’s the drive to surpass his previous works that keep him going.
He leaves a lasting impression with each role and shows us no boundaries for what’s to come. His first blockbuster role as villain, Erik Killmonger, in the upcoming Black Panther is going to break new ground for the 31-year-old actor from Newark, New Jersey. Not to ever be confused with the basketball legend, Jordan has paved an acting career that can only foresee more knockout opportunities. If you haven’t paid close attention to his career (let’s forgive him for the smear that was Fantastic Four (2015), we’ve got the rundown for you ahead of his most commercial role yet.
Jordan’s breakthrough television role came in 2002 through his character, Wallace, in the HBO crime drama The Wire. Jordan, then 16 years old, took on the role of a teenage drug dealer of the same age. This role encapsulated an emotional, although very gullible, persona that gave a young Jordan a place to shine. Although Wallace met his demise early in the show’s run, it was only out of love, given how much director David Simon and crew valued him. Even then, they had the sense to let Jordan find his way into stardom in ways the series no longer could. His departure from the highly-acclaimed drama led him on as an indie-television star, still looking for what was next in his career.
From 2003 to 2006, Jordan starred as Reggie Porter Montgomery in the ABC daytime soap drama, All My Children, as a reformed gang member looking to grow roots in Pine Valley. Fast forward to 2009 and you’ll remember when Jordan played 17 year-old quarterback Vince Howard in NBC’s Friday Night Lights. His journey as a football player looking for greater purpose and dealing with life’s troubles resonated with so many people, along with the stories of the other players. His arc ran until the series finale in 2011.
For some time, Jordan starred in a string of average films: Chronicle (2012), That Awkward Moment (2014), and Fantastic Four (2015) Among those hides an independently made film that is arguably his real breakout moment, Fruitvale Station (2013). The film follows the real life story of Oscar Grant, a black man who was unjustly shot dead on New Year’s Eve 2008. The controversial story of the film gave way to more needed exposure, thanks to Ryan Coogler, a then first time director. Raw and heartbreaking, this role showed us a huge moment in Jordan’s career and more folks took him seriously. Jordan made a bigger impact on screen when 2015’s Creed premiered. A perfectly trained Jordan took to the boxing ring and Sylvester Stallone’s guidance in the film. What could’ve been a sequel-like catastrophe was actually a box office and audience success. Coogler once again elevated both his own film and Jordan’s mastery.
Michael B. Jordan has a close bond with director Ryan Coogler, as they’ve collaborated on three protects together; Fruitvale Station, Creed, and now Black Panther. It’s safe to assume that their working relationship is now at a comfortable pace where the two can practically read each other’s thoughts on set. Their collaboration of ideas has helped sculpt their respective feature films. Jordan gives himself to Coogler’s well-paced direction and in return, gets the major support he needs to shine. It’d be great to see the two carry on a Scorsese/ De Niro charisma moving forward.
In Marvel’s Black Panther, we see Chadwick Boseman star as T’Challa, the new monarch, as he returns to the African nation of Wakanda to claim his rightful place as king. Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger proves to be a worthy competitor for that throne, and it looks to be a revolutionary clash of high calibre.
With Fandango pre-sales exceeding any other superhero film, Black Panther looks to make history, commercially and culturally. Casting Michael B. Jordan as a lead villain will find Hollywood in a state of euphoric and diverse success. In regards to character clashes, Jordan says it’s in comparison to a dynamic in the same vein as Magneto and Professor X. Killmonger is strategic, skilled, and determined. This role will allow Jordan be less reserved with a platform to continue giving us charismatic acting that will stay with us long after. Don’t sleep on Michael B. Jordan, because we sure won’t stop talking about him anytime soon.
Black Panther opens in theaters nationwide February 16.