Shockwave

In Transformers: The Last Knight, when Sir Edmund Burton shows the heroes his private museum of the Witwiccan Order, several historical pictures can be seen: the bigger one shows a militarized Bumblebee, but on other two we can see Ironhide and Shockwave as well. The latter appeared as one of the major antagonists in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a remarkably powerful Decepticon who commands a giant worm-like beast called Driller, and who’s able to overpower all the Autobots on his own. He’s killed by the united forces of the human army and the Autobots, with Optimus Prime delivering the final blow to a seemingly invincible opponent. His pictures, marked as “deceased”, is later seen in Age of Extinction. In the comics, Shockwave is just as badass as in the movies…but he speaks a lot more. Let’s see together.

Born on planet Cybertron, Shockwave started as an academic, dedicating himself to pure logical thinking, concentrating on meditation to free himself from all kind of emotions, which he saw as an unforgivable weakness. When the civil war between Autobots and Decepticons began, Shockwave joined the latters, as logic suggested to him that their cause was the one most likely to win the war, since they weren’t burdened by compassion. It was thanks to his calculations that the Decepticons found the perfect moment to attack the Autobots, just when they had been weakened by a planetary mission defending Cybertron from a meteor shower; while Megatron and the others boarded the Ark, however, Shockwave stayed behind on the Nemesis, piloting the warship. This proved to be quite a wise choice, as Optimus Prime sent his ship crashing on a remote, primitive planet, taking along Megatron and his Decepticons. Aboard the Nemesis, Shockwave followed the Ark until it reached Earth. While trying to follow the enemy ship down in the atmosphere, even the Nemesis experienced a malfunction, and its damaged guidance system led Shockwave in Antarctica. As Shockwave emerged from the Nemesis, the Ark’s A.I. detected him, and reactivated five Autobots (Grimlock, Sludge, SlagSwoop and Snarl) to oppose him, giving them the shape of the local forms of life, namely dinosaurs. The Dinobots reached Shockwave in Antarctica, where they tried to use their combined power to destroy their enemy. “Tried”. Not only Shockwave proved his power to be superior to that of the Dinobots combined, but even if he couldn’t kill them all alone, he tricked them into getting trapped in a tar pit; while they were sinking, however, Snarl managed to inflict a final blow that blew up the mountain Shockwave was standing upon. As his enemies got trapped in the tar pit, Shockwave himself was buried under tons of rock, trapped as well. He would have been stuck for millions of years.

Finally, during Earth’s 1980s, Autobots and Decepticons were awakened, and they resumed their war on the alien planet; the Autobots were still looking for their five missing comrades, and they sent probes all around the globe to find them…but one of the probes inadvertently reactivated Shockwave instead. In a matter of minutes, Shockwave located all the Transformers in Oregon, and he reached them just as the Autobots defeated the Decepticons in a long and difficult battle. His arrival was quite an explosive one: Shockwave single-handedly defeated the weakened Autobots, and he even executed Optimus Prime by decapitating him. He then reanimated the Decepticons, but only to serve him: since Megatron had failed, logic demanded that leadership was granted to him now. As a first act as a leader, Shockwave led the Decepticons in attacking an oil-drilling platform that became their secondary headquarters, but this second success only humiliated Megatron even more: the former leader challenged the current one, but Shockwave effortlessly defeated him, forcing him to vow his obedience and loyalty to him. Megatron agreed, but not without a grudge. This settled, Shockwave proceeded with his plan to lead the Decepticons to the ultimate victory, and he extracted the Creation Matrix from Optimus Prime’s head and the technology obtained from conquering Blackrock Aerospace Plant to create the Constructicons, the new frontier of Decepticon firepower. The next step had Shockwave build another extremely powerful Decepticon, Jetfire, but he soon realised that Optimus had transferred the rest of the Matrix in the mind of Buster Witwicky, a human. Buster used the Matrix to turn Jetfire on the Autobots’ side, reversing the situation in his favor, and resurrected Optimus, who challenged Shockwave. At the end of a fierce battle, the Autobot leader buried Shockwave in a swamp, finally defeating him…not that the Decepticon leader wouldn’t have come back sooner than his enemies hoped for…

Shockwave is an extremely intelligent tactician, a warrior who doesn’t feel any emotion and who follows a cold and relentless logic. As a Transformer, he possesses superhuman strenght, durability, stamina, reflexes and longevity, he is inhumanly intelligent, and his left hand is an energy cannon; he can transform into a Cybertronian ray-gun, a form in which he can shoot a variety of different rays, from highly dangerous gamma rays to x-rays that allow him to see through pretty much everything. An extremely powerful warrior, possibly even stronger than Megatron himself, Shockwave is loyal to the Decepticons only out of calculation: his one true loyalty is to logic, and pure cold logic can be even more frightening than murderous rage…

Mnemosyne

In the meanwhile, I gathered all the pics I needed to complete the characters from Wonder Woman, so we’ll alternate them to the others coming. Let’s begin with another impressive number of Amazons, starting with Mnemosyne, portrayed by Josette Simon. In the movie, Mnemosyne is the unlucky woman with the unrewarding task of taking care of little Diana, constantly losing her around Themyscira as the undisciplined child evades her surveilance. In the comics, Mnemosyne is indeed an Amazon, and she also acted as a teacher of sort for Diana, with the only thing differing greatly being her looks (but this applies to nearly every African-American Amazon appearing in the film). Let’s see together.

Mnemosyne was born when some of the goddesses of OlympusAthenaHestia, DemeterAphrodite and Artemis, decided to stem men’s violence and imbued magical bodies made of clay with the souls of the too many women slain by them. Mnemosyne emerged from the Mediterranean Sea along with her sisters, and she settled in modern Turkey, where she started with all the others her task of keeping peace between men, bringing harmony and understanding. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, however, as the Amazons collected also many enemies with their work in the world, especially the War God Ares, who understandably didn’t like their messing with his affairs. Due to Ares’ machinations, Heracles and Theseus managed to subdue and enslave the Amazons, and Mnemosyne found herself captive along with her sisters. When, thanks to Athena, the female warriors were freed, they split into two groups: one chose to follow Queen Hippolyta, who wished to obey Athena and not to hunt their enemies down, preferring a peaceful existence, and one who followed Queen Antiope instead, chosing vengeance over compassion and starting an all-out war against men. Mnemosyne, always the wise and meditative one, followed the first queen, and went to live on Themyscira, a sacred island blessed by the goddesses which the Amazons could live on, hidden from the rest of the world. In the following years, Mnemosyne dedicated herself to studies, and she collected a number of rare books and parchments to be kept in Themyscira’s library. Since nothing appeared in the Amazons’ future, she focused on learning as much as she could on her people’s past. Then, future came back to Themyscira, in the form of a baby.

When Princess Diana was born, literally a new life spread through Themyscira, and finally the Amazons could open themselves to a future that centuries of seclusion and immortal life had taken from them. Mnemosyne taught Diana everything she knew about Amazonian history, and as the chief historian she knew pretty much everything. When Diana left Themyscira to help Captain Steve Trevor, Mnemosyne was quick to recognize in him the son of the woman remembered as a heroine among the Amazons, Diana Rockwell Trevor, and she blessed Diana’s interest for the man. The princess became the heroine known as Wonder Woman in the feared Patriarch’s World, and despite her successes were plain, her absence from Themyscira divided the Amazons’ opinions, and while some of them, like Mnemosyne, were happy for Diana’s victories, others saw in her public demonstration of Amazons’ existence a threat for Themyscira. Some others even believed that Diana wasn’t ready to face men’s world alone, but as soon as Mnemosyne learnt that Hermes had chosen Julia Deneiros Kapatelis, an explorer and a professor at Oxford University, to be her mentor in the outside world, she was more than satisfied with the choice, believing that nobody could have been a better guide for her. She proved to be right, and years later Wonder Woman came back victorious to Themyscira. Once again, her presence caused division among the Amazons, with the military leader Philippus wanting to use Diana’s knowledge of Patriarch’s World against it; Mnemosyne, helped by Acantha, managed to convince her sisters not to pursue that path, showing them through their own history how everything happening to the Amazons had led to that very moment, with Wonder Woman acting as a bridge between two worlds. The next challenge for Mnemosyne was to update the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall of Themyscirian history when the two groups reunited…quite a hard task, considering the Bana-Mighdallians’ grudge against their lost sisters.

Mnemosyne is an intelligent and cultured Amazon, possibly the most knowledgable woman on Themyscira, and one of the wisest. As an Amazon, she possesses superhuman strenght, speed, agility, durability, stamina and reflexes, and she’s immortal (albeit not invunerable); she’s a skilled warrior, an archer, a swordswoman and a horse rider, just as formidable on the battlefield as she is in a library. A living bank of knowledge, Mnemosyne takes her name from the ancient Goddess of Memory, and she honors it with keeping the historical memory of everything happening to Themyscira and its inhabitants.

Starscream

Transformers: The Last Knight is in theatres now, and there are some characters appearing in the movie who hadn’t been seen in the trailers. Let’s start with the recurring ones…well, sort of, as they are all dead to begin with. When Daytrader arrives at the Autobots‘s hideout, one of the “treasures” he tries to sell is the severed head of StarscreamMegatron‘s former second in command (Megatron himself retrieves the head, and has a brief Hamlet moment with it). Starscream has been a prominent member of the robotic cast since the first movie, where he led the Decepticons in freeing and resurrecting Megatron (and ending up being the only survivor of the group). In Revenge of the Fallen he resurrects Megatron once again and comes back to his side, and the two flee as soon as the Fallen is killed; he’s finally killed in Dark of the Moon during the final battle in Chicago, having his head blown up by Sam Witwicky. His picture also appears in Age of Extinction, but it’s unlikely we’ll see this treacherous Decepticon again…so let’s take a mourning look at this living Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor jet.

Starscream was born on planet Cybertron, where he was trained as a warrior since his early life. He attended the Cybertron War Academy and, according to his own claim, he turned out to be their most skilled student ever, obtaining the rank of Air Commander and surpassing every previous standard. In the centuries-long civil war that was tearing Cybertron apart, Starscream joined the faction of the Decepticons, and he was put in charge of the elite squad of the Seekers, an aerial commando specialised in swift attacks. His skill as a leader allowed him to get close to the Decepticons’ master, Megatron, who took him under his wing and made him one of his most trusted men. Unfortunately, Starscream wasn’t to be considered “trusted” at all, as all his successes had created quite an ambition in him, and he dreamt of taking Megatron’s place as the Decepticon leader, believing that was what he was destined to be. Despite Starscream believed to be the most cunning plotter ever born, however, Megatron knew far too well what his true ambitions were, and he kept him close in order to keep an eye on him, all the while exploiting his and his team’s skills. While planning his mutinee, however, Starscream played the part of the loyal follower, and he obeyed Megatron’s orders in the conflict against the Autobots. Being Megatron’s second in command, he was selected to be part of the assault squad that attacked the Autobots on the Ark, their sentient ship, but the battle proved to be the beginning of a new life for Starscream and all the others involved: the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, seeing his forces defeated, had the ship crash on a remote and primitive planet, Earth, in the hope of destroying his enemies along with himself. As a result, instead, all the Transformers participating to the battle fell into a state of suspended animation, and they awoke only millennia after their arrival, in the planet’s 1980s. Starscream found himself stranded on an alien planet, but a new, unhoped for situation was in front of him: now, only a few number of Decepticons were present to defend Megatron, and he had the perfect chance to take his place.

As soon as the Decepticons woke up, however, the difference of power between Megatron and Starscream became immediately blatant: Starscream dared to question Megatron’s decisions, and the latter nearly reduced him to scraps. Barely surviving the experience, the treacherous officer understood he had to use subtler ways to mine Megatron’s leadership. In his first attempt to overthrow him on the alien planet, he lured the Autobots to him during Megatron’s absence, so that he could lead his teammates in the following battle showing his commanding skills to them and undermining Megatron’s charisma. Things didn’t go as planned, however, as another Decepticon extremely loyal to Megatron, Ravage, discovered his plan, and threatened to reveal everything to the others. A fight ensued between the two, and the Autobots arrived (as planned…) just as Starscream was trying to kill his rival. Inevitably he was caught, but as a prisoner he demanded trial by combat in his defense, a right that was granted to him. His chosen adversary turned out to be Brawn, a remarkably strong opponent…but Starscream managed to defeat him, and was released. Ravage, however, had been following him, and he attacked him taking advantage of his weariness: he deactivated him, blaming the Autobots as he came back to the base. As a result, Megatron gathered the Decepticons in an attack against the Autobots, obtaining exactly the opposite of what Starscream had intended in the first place. He was later reactivated and resumed serving Megatron, first, and Shockwave, later, but when both the Decepticon leaders were gone he finally said out loud he wanted to be the new leader: Soundwave, however, had different ideas, and he took the leadership for himself; in the following battle with the Autobots, Starscream was deactivated once again by Optimus Prime. He was reactivated just in time for a battle against the titanic Autobot guardian Omega Supreme, but he just got deactivated for the umpteenth time. Failure after failure, Starscream finally allied himself with a time-travelling Decepticon, Galvatron, who offered him a chance to get rid of both Megatron and Shockwave…not knowing that he was helping the guy who, in the future, would have been responsible for his death.

Starscream is a clever and deceiving warrior, crippled by an overflowing ambition, an unlimited arrogance and an embarassing cowardice, traits that bring him to always attempt to betray this or that leader, but never to be able to directly face his opponent despite his remarkable power. As a Transformer, he possesses superhuman strenght, durability, stamina and longevity, but he’s also incredibly fast, actually one of the fastest Transformers ever; he can transform into a jet, obtaining the power of flight and increasing his speed to an impressive Mach 2.8; he’s also functionally immortal, as his mutated Spark is able to survive even outside his physical body. Armed with blasters, missiles and bombs, a ruthless fighter and a treacherous plotter, Starscream could be the intelligent and charismatic leader he had always dreamt of, if he only had enough courage to fight his own battles and to inspire his men on the battlefield…

Inza Cramer (Doctor Fate)

Back from a brief pause, let’s take a look from a character requested by casualgamer (this time it’s only one, so we’ll see her before all the other coming from Lucy W.‘s list): Inza Nelson, the wife of Dr. Fate. Inza only had one live action appearance in Smallville, and we only see her during a flashback as she watches helpessly as her husband Kent is taken away by some healthcare assistants and forcibly istitutionalized. We don’t know how, but she died in the following years, a pain that broke Kent’s mind even more. In the comics, Inza is not only the love interest of Doctor Fate, but she becomes Doctor Fate herself after (and along with) her husband. Let’s take a look.

Inza Cramer was born in New York City in the 1920s, but nothing of her early life is known. She was admitted to college, and she started studying archaeology, specialising in ancient Egyptian civilization. In order to deepen her studies she travelled to Alexandria, in Egypt, where she met a brilliant archaeologist, Kent Nelson. The two became fast friends, albeit meeting Kent wouldn’t have been the thing Inza remembered the most about the travel: a powerful sorcerer named Wotan attacker her using one of his mortal agents, Thomas Frawley, and Inza survived the experience only thanks to another sorcerer, this time a good one, who called himself Doctor Fate. Grateful to the mysterious masked hero, Inza offered him her help and knowledge, becoming his partner in fighting ancient evils and occult threats. In the meanwhile, she had come back to New York, where her friendship with Kent Nelson was growing. It was after battling an ancient and malicious god, the Mayan Mayoor, who tried to use Inza as a vessel to come back to the physical world, that finally Doctor Fate revealed his true identity to Inza…and she found out the magician had been Kent all the time. This revelation made the bond between the two even stronger, and the two eventually realised they had fallen in love. As Kent decided to leave archaeology and to become a medical doctor, Inza followed him and become a nurse, and the two spent a lot of time together…but from the moment they got engaged, Fate stopped having Inza as his partner in battles, as he now fought evil with the other superheroes from the Justice Society of America. When the two got married and moved to the Tower of Fate, things got even worse: everytime Fate left the Tower to battle villains, Inza was left behind, waiting for his return. Eventually she got tired of this, missing the old days when she and Kent were fighting side by side, and she followed Fate as he left to face the undead priest Khalis. As soon as she was out of the Tower of Fate, however, the enemies of her husband, the Lords of Chaos, spotted her and targeted her…

The Lords of Chaos kidnapped Inza, and used her to blackmail Doctor Fate, even torturing her. Kent eventually saved her, but she emerged in a pretty bad shape: physically wounded, mentally traumatized, she started suffering from paranoid depression, and she never left the Tower of Fate ever again. Kent put all his energies into healing his wife, but doing so the spell that kept him and Inza eternally young lost power and faded, so the two spouses rapidly aged to match their original age, and died. Both Inza’s and Kent’s souls, however, didn’t depart to the afterlife, but they were stored in the Amulet of Anubis, one of Fate’s mystical weapons. While inside the Amule, Inza’s mind could finally rest and heal, and when the Lords of Order resurrected her and Kent to replace the deceased Eric and Linda Strauss, they were both given new, young bodies; Nabu, the Lord of Order inhabiting the Helm of Nabu, told them that he originally inteded them both to have Doctor Fate’s power, as they were supposed to merge and to share the power, but that Kent had misunderstood everything and had kept the power to himself. Inza was quite upset for this, but she soon changed her mind when she realised Kent was now unable to become Fate, while she could: she possessed now all the powers that once belonged to her husband, and she was the new Doctor Fate, even if she didn’t merge with Kent as she was supposed to. Intoxicated by her new power, Inza become a far more reckless and less cogitative version of Fate, and she started experimenting with magic taking in little consideration her husband’s suggestions. As her character became impossible, she and Kent separated and parted ways, as she wanted to be her own Doctor Fate. This change of attitude, however, wasn’t exactly natural: the Helm of Nabu had been possessed by Tgiian, a Lord of Chaos, who was influencing her actions and making her tap into the energies of Chaos rather than the Order’s ones to use her magic…thus making her an Agent of Chaos. Unable to face Tgiian on her own, Inza was assisted by Kent, who had come back for her: together, they exorcised the Lord of Chaos, and took possession of the Helm again. Finally, they could use the power of Doctor Fate together, as a couple, as they had always been meant to do.

Inza Nelson is a woman who’s always been ahead of her time, and albeit she lived at the beginning of the XX Century, she never was the submitted and silent kind of wife, always being a woman of action, treating her husband as an equal. As Doctor Fate, she possesses an immense mystic power, being able to cast an infinite variety of spells allowing her to fly, to generate and manipulate different kinds of energy, to phase through solid objects, to read minds and hypnotize people, to cast illusions, to create energy shields, to teleport through space and time, to manipulate reality itself and many other things. Drawing her powers from Order, Chaos or even from the collective power of humanity, Inza is quite a reckless Doctor Fate, an enthusiastic protector lacking of experience or self-control who needs her husband’s caution and wisdom to form a balance and create the perfect Agent of Order.

Tilda Johnson (Deadly Nightshade)

I spoke too fast apparently, as Man-Ape wasn’t the last character spotted in the Black Panther trailer: we have a confirmation of another one who appeared in there, and that’s also a new revelation. When we first see Erik Killmonger with the tribal mask on, he’s accompanied by some of his followers, the first one by his side being a woman: that’s Tilda Johnson, portrayed by Nabiyah Be. It’s quite unexpected to see her here, since in the comics she surely had a few run-ins with Black Panther in his American years, but she never had anything to do with Killmonger (or with Wakanda in general). Let’s see together.

Tilda Johnson was born in HarlemNew York City, the only child of a poor black family. Born with an innate aptitude for science and a remarkable intellect, Tilda didn’t show any sign of being a natural born genius, preferring to hide her true nature behind the facade of a naive girl; she studied in secret and by herself, obtaining an extensive knowledge of chemistry, genetics, physics and much more. With the brain she had she could do pretty much anything, but being a poor girl in a poor ghetto there was just one thing she wanted to do: to gain money as fast as she could to get out of a life she hated with all herself. Despite being just sixteen years old, she became quite a criminal mastermind in a matter of months, starting her own racket. Her successes attracted the attention of much bigger fish, like Yellow Claw, the Chinese crime lord. Claw was looking for allies at the time, and the young genius could have proven useful to him. The two formed quite a formidable team, and Johnson started being called the Deadly Nightshade, due to the project she was working on with Yellow Claw (sometimes, her scientific genius had her being called Doctor Nightshade). Thanks to Claw’s resources and Nightshade’s brain, they developed a special serum that could transform any human into obedient werewolves, a superpowered army fiercely loyal to its master. Deadly Nightshade started experimenting her serum on jail convicts, so that she could use the inmates as invincible minions for Yellow Claw: the plan succeeded, but S.H.I.E.L.D. noticed the disappearance of the prisoners, and sent Captain America on the criminal duo’s trails. Cap defeated Yellow Claw and his werewolves, but Nightshade managed to escape.

Tilda now had a personal score to settle with Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D., and she developed another serum to obtain her vengeance: based on pheromones, this new concoction allowed her to mind-control people, and she used it to conquer an entire S.H.I.E.L.D. facility; when Cap came to the rescue, she controlled him as well, forcing the hero to battle his partner, Falcon. It was thanks to the latter that Nightshade was defeated, and this time she was taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. and imprisoned. A common jail couldn’t hold her for long, however, and she soon escaped, coming back to her Harlem and reprising her old objective of becoming the queen of the underworld. She built an army of life-like robots based on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Life Model Decoys, and employed them as muscle to take over the protection rackets in the neighborhood, all the while posing as the mistress of R. U. Rossum, a “crime boss” who was actually one of the robots. Nightshade managed to overthrow Maggia, but her mechanical army was eventually reduced to scraps by Iron Fist and Power Man. She came back months later, this time controlling Hulk to obtain a rare circuit developed by Rand-Meachum Corporation, but Iron Fist and Power Man faced her again, helped by Machine Man. After this umpteenth failure, she once again looked for allies, and she joined Superia‘s feminist terrorist group Femizons, becoming her second in command and developing for her a serum that could transform men into women, even using it on the likes of Captain America and Paladin. She even built a “sterilization bomb” to free women from the burden of motherhood, but the Femizons were eventually defeated. Her past experience with werewolves attracted the interest of Dredmund Cromwell, the Demon Druid, and she replicated for him her werewolf serum, this time succesfully transforming Captain America in a feral beast. Every battle, however, turned into a new defeat, and it didn’t take many more experiences like these to make it clear for Tilda that she was wasting her potential in her crime career…

Tilda Johnson is an extremely smart, yet greedy and ambitious woman, a natural genius who believes she has to prove her worth by making as much money as she can in the shortest time possible, thus “redeeming” herself from an early life of poverty. As the Deadly Nightshade (or Doctor Nightshade, or simply Nightshade), she uses her impressive genius to devise weapons, serums and machines for criminal use, such as an army of robots, her werewolf serum, mind-controlling pheromones, and even her own personal battle armor, a strenght-enhancing suit with silver spikes protruding from it; she’s also a superb athlete and a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, more than able to take care of herself if the situation doesn’t allow her to hide behind the curtains as usual. Originally an irredeemable crime mastermind, Nightshade is now a changed woman, who thanks to the encounter with people such as Misty KnightNighthawk and Hawkeye is trying to start a new life worthy of her potential…but it’s a long road to redemption, one full of temptations and occasions to come back to the old ways…

M’Baku (Man-Ape)

The last character appearing in the Black Panther trailer is a secondary villain, who promises to be quite a pain in the back for the titular hero nevertheless: M’Baku, portrayed by Winston Duke. In the movie, he’ll be the leader of a tribe hostile to T’Challa‘s government, the Jabari, and he’ll cause quite some disorders in Wakanda. Character and actor have been both confirmed for Avengers: Infinity War, so it’s safe to say that whatever conflict will put M’Baku against T’Challa won’t see its end in this movie. In the comics, M’Baku is even bigger and badder, and his outfit is much more characteristic than the casual white fur we see in the trailer, as he wears an entire gorilla skin and goes by the name Man-Ape. Let’s see together.

M’Baku was born in Wakanda, a secluded African nation, in the Jabari Village. The Jabari tribe was the only one left in Wakanda to follow the old religion, the White Gorilla Cult, a barbaric warmongering cult practiced by ancient Wakandians, who were hunters and warriors. M’Baku grew up with his brother Mandla in the myth of the old days, when the strongest ruled and the weak ones obeyed, and he trained himself to be the most powerful warrior of the country…something that he actually achieved, becoming an impressive fighter, second only to the country’s protector, the Black Panther. In order to give his people its honor and pride back, M’Baku reinstated the White Gorilla Cult, despite the Wakandian laws forbid it; he also named himself the new leader of both cult and tribe, and he crossed the forbidden lands up to the Great Vibranium Mound, until he found a sacred white gorilla, a rare (protected) species that was said to have mystical powers…as it actually did. M’Baku killed the gorilla, bathed in its blood, ate its flesh and made an armor from its skin: from this gruesome ceremony he obtained superhuman powers, and he came back to his people as the Man-Ape, ready to lead the White Gorilla Cult to a new era of leadership in Wakanda. Taking advantage of King T’Challa’s absence, M’Baku led a rebellion, wanting to bring Wakanda to its original state, outlawing all the advanced technology introduced by the royal family of Black Panther cultists and turning the population to a nation of warriors and hunters only. When T’Challa knew about what was happening in his country, he came back to Wakanda along with the Avengers, and received a public challenge from Man-Ape. The two fought for the right to rule, and Man-Ape managed to defeat his opponent. When he tried to crush him under the Panther totem his enemy worshipped, however, the huge statue crumbled, burying him under the rubbles. Taking this as a sign from the gods, Black Panther was confirmed the king, and M’Baku left for dead.

The Man-Ape, however, hadn’t met his end yet: one of his most loyal followers, N’Gamo, used some secret herbs on him, reviving him and later hiding him in the village until he came back to full health. Humiliated by an unrecognized victory, M’Baku became obsessed with proving himself better than the Black Panther, and he even left Wakanda to follow his enemy to New York City, where the hero resided as an Avenger. Once in the new land, Man-Ape learned that the Avengers had many enemies, and he took the opportunity to join forces with them in order to kill his nemesis: he became a member of Grimm Reaper‘s version of the Lethal Legion, an offer he accepted only in exchange of the promise of being able to face Black Panther. After a brief fight with the Avengers, Man-Ape was ordered to kidnap Monica Lynne, Black Panther’s American girlfriend, in order to lure the hero into a trap. The plan succeeded, and T’Challa was captured. Soon the other Avengers followed him, but when Vision managed to free them all, another battle ensued…exactly what Man-Ape was waiting for. He challenged Black Panther once again, and even this time his brute force had the upper hand in the confrontation, but eventually Captain America intervened, and M’Baku found in him a far better warrior than he was. Captured, M’Bau was sentenced to exile by Black Panther, who decreed that he would have faced death penalty if he ever came back to Wakanda. A renegade, Man-Ape stayed in New York and joined the Lethal Legion once again, being assigned to battle Tigra, but he eventually abandoned the team along with Black Talon as soon as Grimm Reaper’s racism became unbearable. With no home to come back to, Man-Ape started wandering a world he had never seen, and visited the less civilised areas of the planet selling his services as a mercenary. Despite the executioner waiting for him, however, home’s calling was strong in his blood, and soon he would have come back to Wakanda to challenge the Black Panther once again.

M’Baku is a violent and tyrannical man, a leader who only believes in the law of the strongest and who only values battle prowess. As the Man-Ape, he possesses superhuman strength, durability, agility, stamina and reflexes, and he’s an incredibly skilled combatant, able to match Black Panther himself. A charismatic religious and political leader, Man-Ape dreams of a country reverted to its primitive condition, when the strength of your arm was the only measure of your value and no technology contaminated a warrior’s spirit…a world in which a man like him would be revered like a god on Earth.

Zuri

We’re almost at the end of the characters from the Black Panther trailer, and today we meet the last ally of the warrior king: Zuri, portrayed by Forest Whitaker. Zuri will be a trusted advisor to the young and inexperienced king, and he’s been turned into a religious figure, a shaman instead of the comics’ warrior, in order to explore also the religious traditions of Wakanda. The director Ryan Coogler describes Zuri as the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Wakanda, a mentor and a spiritual guide to T’Challa. In the comics he surely is a mentor for the young king, but his approach is much more direct. Let’s see together.

Zuri was born in the secluded African nation of Wakanda, a proud warrior of his tribe who devoted his entire life in serving the king. Under the rule of King T’Chaka, he became one of the most skilled warrior in the country, until he was admitted to service in the Royal Palace where he served as a bodyguard to T’Chaka. With time, Zuri became something more than a trusted protector: he befriended the king, and was his loyal companion. When T’Chaka had a son, T’Challa, he entrusted him to Zuri’s care, and he became the prince’s mentor, not only teaching him the way of the warrior, but also guiding him in forming a serious and careful personality, able to take wise decisions for the moment he would have become king. Wakanda faced a grave danger when it was invaded by the forces of the European mercenary Ulysses Klaw, who wanted to steal the country’s Vibranium; as the king, in the garb of the Black Panther, left to repel the attackers, Zuri was assigned with the most important task of all: to keep the prince safe and away from danger. Albeit he wanted to fight with his king, Zuri obeyed…and this was the last time he saw T’Chaka alive, since the king was killed by Klaw. Since the last order from his friend had been to guard his son, Zuri officially became T’Challa’s bodyguard now, and he kept acting as his mentor, protector and guidance, never leaving his side. When T’Challa moved to the United States of America to study also in the way of the “outside world”, Zuri was the only one allowed to accompany him, and he stayed with the prince during all the college years (often criticizing his dates with women not from a royal family…meaning eveyrone T’Challa met in those years).

When, years after, Zuri and T’Challa came back to Wakanda, the prince was more than determined to succeed his father despite his young age. He participated to the ritual of the Ascension, challenging his uncle S’Yan for the title of Black Panther, and Zuri was among the many warriors he had to defeat to win. The seasoned warrior was extremely proud of his pupil as he realised he had become skilled enough to best even his teacher, and rejoyced when T’Challa became the new Black Panther. As he had been a bodyguard and advisor to the prince, he now was to the king as well, and Zuri never left his side, his voice being one of the most respected and trusted by King T’Challa; not always, however, Zuri was listened to, such as when T’Challa opened the borders to several refugees, causing disorders in many xenophobic villages. Zuri took care of the matter along with Okoye and Nakia of the Dora Milaje, but the disorder continued…and the king decided to come back to the US, much to Zuri’s disapproval. He however decided to accompany him, to finally see what his king found so appealing in this other world, and despite some misadventure (he even ended up in jail due to some cultural misunderstandings), he came to understand better this weird world. He even met Black Panther’s friends, the Avengers, and he formed quite a strong friendship with Thor; he also was completely smitten by Photon, whom he celebrated as a Sun Goddess, and he tried to convince Black Panther to marry her, without any success (he was pretty disappointed when T’Challa chose the mutant Storm over Photon). Back in Wakanda, it was Zuri who prepared Shuri to face Bast the Panther God and instructed her on how to do it. He would have always served the royal family at the best of his capacity.

Zuri is a wise warrior and a loyal friend, molded by the fire of hundreds of battles; he dedicated his entire life to the service of the royal family, and he takes care of T’Challa and Shuri as if they were his children. Despite being close to his sixties, Zuri is a powerful warrior, an incredibly strong man who’s also a master of many forms of armed and unarmed combat, a skilled tracker and hunter and a brilliant tactician. With enough courage to stand even against impossible foes like Thor and Morlun, Zuri embodies all the strength and the pride of his people, as well as its stubborness and distrust towards strangers: in every possible way, the most precious ally and friend for T’Challa and his family.