In the episode, Killmonger shares his plans for an automatic combat drone, Project Liberator, with Tony Stark. When he reveals his work, Tony comments on the “bold” design choice of the weapon, and Killmonger replies, “What? I like anime.”
This could be seen as just a throwaway line, but it’s actually a nod to Michael B. Jordan’s real-life love for anime. In a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jordan shared his affinity for the genre, saying he “grew up on it.” He revealed anime’s action sequences and stories drew him in, elaborating, “A lot of the stories and the character development on these anime series are incredible. They are so underrated. I really dove into a lot of the emotional beats of these characters. I remember dropping a tear or two. I’ve definitely cried little man tears over anime before.”
Jordan has gotten into making anime through his production company Outlier Society, serving as executive production on “gen:LOCK.” He’s merged his love of anime with his love of fashion, too, designing a Naruto-inspired collection with luxury brand Coach, as reported by Fast Company. Fans have even noticed the similarities between Jordan’s Killmonger costume and the style of “Dragon Ball Z” character Vegeta (via Forbes).
We love that Jordan was able to bring some of his own personality to Killmonger in “What If…?,” and hope he gets even more opportunities to bring his love of anime into his work.