The upcoming movie adaptation of Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) will be bringing forth a reimagined version of M’Baku, played by Winston Duke, as the secondary antagonist.
There is a substantial reason for director Ryan Coogler to have gone astray from the original works. However, that same reason has also made one of the most frequent mainstream villains of the Black Panther lose his identity.
The original M’Baku from the comic books, also known as Man-Ape, is a powerful African warrior who wears the pelt of a rare white gorilla with great pride. You can understand why that depiction on the silver screen would be termed by many as racially offensive. It is the reason that the character had to discard his furry coat for the movie but doing so, lost so much that the average audience will probably never get to know about.
The similarities between the comics and the movie end with M’Baku being an expert fighter and leader of his own tribe in Wakanda that opposes T’Challa as their ruler. The fact that he never received his pelt in the movie debut means the scrapping of a profound history and the manner in which he had received mystical powers in the original works.
The original M’Baku from the comics
M’Baku was once known as the greatest warrior in Wakanda, second to only the Black Panther himself. However, he was not in favor of the way T’Challa chose to rule and how the nation was being forced to rely on alien technology.
M’Baku had envisioned a different kind of Wakanda, one that meant going back to the early days of savagery where only the strongest survived. He decided that the only way for this to happen was to take the throne for himself.
However, M’Baku knew that this duel for the right to rule would not be easy. He needed more power and for that, he went against the laws of Wakanda by joining the outlawed White Gorilla Cult. M’Baku then hunted and killed a rare white gorilla for an ancient ceremony where he ate the flesh and bathed in the blood of the slain beast. This unholy act bestowed him with superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, and enhanced durability from the Gorilla god.
M’Baku returned to challenge the Black Panther for the throne of Wakanda and after a ferocious battle… actually won. He tied T’Challa to a giant statue of the Panther god and commanded his followers to tip the towering structure over to crush his foe. However, the statue crumbled and buried both M’Baku and his followers.
Wakanda took this as the will of the Panther god and welcomed T’Challa back with open arms. M’Baku, though, survived and continued through the years to find new allies in his journey to take down the Black Panther.
Strangely enough, the supervillain was still on the guest list for the wedding ceremony between T’Challa and Ororo Munroe, also known as Storm of the X-Men.
“Lore Guard” is an exclusive segment that brings attention to the genuine history behind characters, storylines, events, artifacts, and such. They may differ in their adaptations for different mediums but it is important to know how they were initially penned.