Michael B. Jordan

In light of the much-anticipated release of the new and final Avengers film, it is important to look at the ways in which embodying a character, both physically and psychologically, can affect an actor or actress. Though portraying a heroic or fantastical character can be emboldening and empowering, playing the villain can also be damaging, an after-effect experienced by Michael B. Jordan. Jordan recently joined the Marvel franchise in the extremely popular Black Panther released in early 2018 as Killmonger, a revenge-driven and anger-filled U.S. soldier hellbent on overthrowing T’Challa and ruling Wakanda. However, playing the role of this complex and tortured villain came at a price in regards to Jordan’s mental health.

When asked by Oprah Winfrey the steps he took in order to develop such a dark and evil character, Jordan revealed that he had spent a significant amount of time isolating himself from others. Jordan also explained in an interview with Stephen Colbert how he kept a ‘Killmonger Journal’ in order to prepare for the roll and to get into character, though his thoughts were often particularly dark and sad. He additionally cites how getting into the mindset of Killmonger, who as a character grew up very lonely and detached from his community, led him to in turn detach himself from those around him; this resulted in Jordan struggling to remove himself from that mindset post-filming. Jordan confessed that when the move wrapped, "I didn't have an escape plan” and that "When it was all over, I think just being in that kind of mind state … caught up with me.” Jordan also revealed how he struggled to “Readjust[ing] to people caring about me, getting that love that I shut out," and that he "I shut out love, I didn't want love. I wanted to be in this lonely place as long as I could." This led Jordan to seek professional help, where he says that seeing a therapist was extremely helpful in making him feel like himself again and to help remove his mind from such a dark place.

Jordan also emphasized the criticism that men can often face for receiving mental health treatment, and the importance of overcoming these social preconceptions regarding emotions. He stresses the way in which “Your mind is so powerful,” and that “Honestly, therapy, just talking to somebody just helped me out a lot. As a man you get a lot of slack for it. … I don’t really subscribe to that. Everyone needs to unpack and talk.” Therapy proved to be a useful tool for Jordan in pulling himself out of Killmonger’s twisted mind, and though he may have played a villian on the screen, his advocacy for a healthy mind makes him a hero in real life.