Forget Man-Ape; Black Panther baddie M’Baku has been overhauled in his transition from comic to screen, as executive producer Nate Moore tells Entertainment Weekly.
Played by Winston Duke (Person of Interest), M’Baku is the figurehead of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, and begins plotting treason once he deems T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) unfit to be king. Toss in the addition of Michael B. Jordan’s unruly Killmonger and it’s clear that Black Panther will feature a major power struggle when Ryan Coogler’s spinoff claws its way into theaters early next year, and in order to take budding Marvel fans up close and personal with the villain formerly known as Man-Ape, EW has posted new details on how Coogler and his team have overhauled M’Baku for the MCU.
And so, after championing Marvel’s 2018 blockbuster as a “big, operatic drama” that pays homage to both James Bond and The Godfather, here’s what executive producer Nate Moore had to say about the character of M’Baku.
“We don’t call him Man-Ape. We do call him M’Baku. Having a black character dress up as an ape, I think there’s a lot of racial implications that don’t sit well, if done wrong. But the idea that they worship the gorilla gods is interesting because it’s a movie about the Black Panther who, himself, is a sort of deity in his own right.”
As for M’Baku’s arc, it seems Winston Duke’s big bad has a bone to pick with T’Challa, particularly after the newly-appointed king exposes the top-secret nation of Wakanda to the world.
In M’Baku’s worldview, T’Chaka made a huge mistake going to the U.N. ‘We should never engage with the outside world. That’s a terrible mistake. And if his son is anything like his father, I don’t support him being on the throne.’ Politically, he just has a different ideology. Man-Ape is a problematic character for a lot of reasons, but the idea behind Man-Ape we thought was really fascinating. … It’s a line I think we’re walking, and hopefully walking successfully.
Chalk M’Baku up as another pretender to the Wakandan throne, then, and though a handful of purists may take issue with the changes being made to Winston Duke’s character – aside from the decision to oust the Man-Ape moniker, of course – as you’ll see from the portrait embedded below, there are still plenty of callbacks to M’Baku as he appeared in the Marvel comics.
It’s the final Marvel solo movie set to release before Avengers: Infinity War, which tells us that the events of Black Panther may well act as a springboard for Joe and Anthony Russo’s grand ensemble movie. We’ll find out whether that is indeed the case when Coogler’s spinoff descends into theaters on February 16th.
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