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.

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