For the final month in December, I researched the character requested by one of my favorite followers. Thanks for the suggestion Catherine. Here’s what I discovered about M’Baku:
The actor who plays him
Winston Duke landed the role of M’Baku in The Black Panther movie. It was his first film role, and wow did he make a splash. I loved the way M’Baku was written and the way Mr. Duke played him. Not to mention loving those shoulders…but I digress. Mr. Duke has appeared in several television shows, including Modern Family and Person of Interest. Of course, he made an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War and I’m sure we’re going to be seeing him in future films as well.
The character arc
In 1969, M’Baku made his first appearance as the “Man-Ape”—a villain. Marvel had some heavy lifting to do to strip away the racist overtones and create a character who would appeal to modern audiences. I think they succeeded. And given what I’ve read in blogs and articles since the Black Panther aired, I’m not alone in my appreciation.
The comic book character was always waiting in the wings to take the monarchy from T’Challa whenever The Black Panther left to save the world from one dastardly villain or another. M’Baku seemed to have valid reasons, however, if you agreed with his nationalist views that Wakanda should come before the rest of the world. But he crossed the line one too many times.
Yep, defeated by T’Challa with the help of the Avengers. But then M’Baku returned to the scene and became a supervillain—a bad guy for hire as a member of the Lethal Legion. For his dastardly deeds he was banned from Wakanda. He’s died at least twice since then and reappeared with little explanation to wreak further havoc on the people of Wakanda, the continent of Africa and the world in general.
A new take
Given all of the above, you might be a little confused about his character in the MCU. They took pieces from here and there and crafted a character with physical prowess, emotional depth and perhaps most surprising of all, a sense of humor. M’Baku touched moviegoers, earning our appreciation and loyalty. I mean, who could resist a strong, tough leader who can make you laugh out loud—can anyone say vegetarian? That had to be one of my favorite lines in the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love T’Challa, and The Black Panther was chock full of “minor” characters who gave depth and meaning to the struggles of Wakanda. But M’Baku in my opinion towered over all the rest.
Many thanks to Darcel M. Fairley for this image of M’Baku. It was on his Wakanda-themed pumpkin and he agreed to let me use it on my site:
Combat powers. He doesn’t need a weapon. M’Baku is a warrior born and bred. His physical prowess equals or exceeds T’Challa’s.
Strength. He’s strong, stronger than a human. When this superpower is joined with his combat abilities, he is a powerhouse to be reckoned with. I sure hope he doesn’t go to the dark side like he did in the comics.
Leadership. He is a strong and fearless leader of the Jabari tribe and a worthy friend and contender for the throne of Wakanda.
Marvel has done it again. Given us a character rich with history, motivations and ideals. I look forward to seeing M’Baku in the future. How about you?
And the winner is…
The final winner for 2018 is Janet Ferguson. Congratulations, Janet! If you get in touch with me prior to Christmas Day you will receive the silver Star Trek pendant charm necklace pictured above. But don’t delay. If I don’t hear from you directly, the prize goes back into the vault for a future drawing.
Sorry if you didn’t win, but there’s always next year! Until then remember…you are Born 2 Be More.