N’Jobu was sent as a spy to assess any threats that might exist against Wakanda in the United States, but Zuri’s presence suggests that the king never trusted his brother.
The Hatut Zeraze, or War Dogs, are the network of Wakandan spies placed around the world to secure information from the outside world and protect the kingdom’s interests. They are elite warriors, saboteurs, infiltrators and sometimes assassins. During King T’Chaka’s reign, his brother N’Jobu accepted a War Dog mission to America where he eventually fell in love with an unknown woman. Although his identity remains a mystery, the child the two conceived, N’Jadaka, became known as the Killmonger and would one day challenge his cousin T’Challa for the throne of Wakanda.
Killmonger had a diametrically opposed militant view of what Wakanda’s role in the world should be compared to the isolationist policies that had ruled its borders for centuries. He inherited much of his philosophy from his father who was said to have been radicalized during his time in America and there is evidence in his diary to support that there is some truth to this development in his thinking. However, there is stronger evidence that T’Chaka was suspicious of his brother’s ideology even before he left Wakanda, which has potentially crucial implications for the royal bloodline.
An undisclosed period of time after N’Jobu arrived in the States, Zuri was sent to observe him and report to the king. At the time of his death, N’Jobu had been in the United States for at least about ten years, considering N’Jadaka’s age. Over these years, N’Jobu has witnessed the systemic apparatus that has unfairly affected people of African descent all over the world. N’Jadaka’s mother was wrongfully imprisoned and then died in custody and this inciting incident may have been a catalyst for his departure from the mainstream political consensus of his people and an intimate example of the oppression he began to see everywhere. Prince Wakandan detailed in his diary the changes he began to see in himself as he plotted to arm the Diaspora with vibranium ore so they could rise up against the power structure that had them. kept in slavery.
To secure this precious metal, he teamed up with an international black market arms dealer named Ulysses Klaue whom he hired to infiltrate the Hidden Kingdom. He provided coordinates of his location, means of entry, and specific safeguards surrounding vibranium deposits. Klaue killed at least two people and managed to get away with the ore, but not before being identified and branded by the Wakandans. Zuri informed the King of N’Jobu’s involvement, and T’Chaka traveled to Oakland with his escort Dora Milaje to arrest his brother, but upon learning of Zuri’s betrayal, N’Jobu attempted to kill him. . T’Chaka interceded and dug his claws into his brother’s chest, executing him and leaving N’Jadaka orphaned.
It’s unclear how long Zuri had infiltrated N’Jobu’s household, but it was long enough to earn the prince’s full and complete trust. When T’Chaka arrives at his doorstep and tries to send Zuri away N’Jobu tells his brother that he trusts James, the name Zuri had taken for the mission, with his life. This is important because he entrusts James with not only the knowledge of his fate, but potentially the secrets of Wakanda itself, which he had obviously never told him before. While he gave Klaue detailed information so he could complete his mission, he kept James to his right in planning the global insurgencies, but hid the most vital information. For a spy to trust someone so much is either a mark of poor judgment or a measure of skill that can be attributed to the rival spy. Either way, Zuri would have had to work hard for a long time to earn that kind of trust.
N’Jadaka referred to James as his uncle and his specific hatred for him belies the affection he must have felt for him at some point since he had been a fixture for much of his young life. N’Jobu might have wanted James to stay by his side under the fury of T’Chaka’s judgment because he intended for James to raise his son in his absence. Given the time N’Jobu spent in America and the investment needed to convince the prince of his loyalty, Zuri had to be sent early in N’Jobu’s tenure. This would imply that T’Chaka had doubts about his brother even before he left for Wakanda, as this would have preceded his turn to radicalism. If so, it may mean that there was a disagreement between the elders regarding the placement of N’Jobu and that Zuri was sent to assuage a faction’s concerns.
There’s little comparison between the Prince of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his comic book counterpart, as he represents a fusion between two different characters. Killmonger from the comics shares no blood connection to the royal line and his father was an unnamed minor for many years until the release of the Black Panther movie. He was then given the name N’Jobu but there was still no mention of his personality traits or ideology. T’Chaka’s brother in the comics, Prince S’yan, is loyal to the crown and a wise and virtuous man who took on the mantle of the Panther when the king died. T’Challa challenged him when he came of age and won the crown with the mantle and S’yan continued to be one of his closest advisors until he sacrificed himself to save Ramonda, the queen mother.
T’Chaka sent Zuri to spy on his brother at a time when the prince should have had the trust of his king and his people, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If true, T’Chaka’s motivations for dismissing the prince may have been two-fold. He may have eliminated a threat he saw to his reign while keeping an eye on him. It didn’t seem necessary to kill N’Jobu like he did to save Zuri’s life. The Panther Habit is made of vibranium, so simply standing in front of the gun should have sufficed and given the strength and speed gifted and ordained in the name of the Panther Goddess, T’Chaka could have easily disarmed him. Perhaps his murder was more than an attempt to save Zuri’s life, but also a way to remove a man he never trusted from the line of succession, making the act selfish instead of altruistic.
With plenty of the original cast set to reprise their roles and rumors that Okoye will don the panther habit, there are vague reports that Killmonger could appear in the sequel in some capacity. Perhaps as a spirit guide to the Ancestral Plane or as a surprising survivor of his battle with T’Challa. If there is more to his father’s death than is currently known, it may trigger a new fury on his part to see that T’Chaka, or his lineage, is paying for what was done. Killmonger doesn’t see himself as a villain, but rather as the true Avenger, to his people and his family. Zuri’s murder may have been just the first step on a bloody road to revenge, and T’Chaka would have more to answer for than anyone originally imagined.
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