Life isn’t getting any easier for the King of Wakanda. Director Ryan Coogler is going to be throwing a slew of villains at his hero for Black Panther as the film has added yet another villain. According to Variety, Winston Duke (Person of Interest) has landed the key role of the villain M’Baku — aka Man-Ape. I assume that the film will simply refer to him as “M’Baku” rather than “Man-Ape” because of the racist connotations of referring to black people as primates.
In the comics, M’Baku was one of Wakanda’s greatest warriors and planned to usurp the throne from T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) with the help of the outlawed White Gorilla Cult. He has superhuman powers because he consumed the flesh of a rare Wakandan white gorilla, which gave him superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, and durability. That kind of backstory is a little too ridiculous for the MCU, and I suspect they might pare it down to just a former Wakandan soldier trying to usurp the throne, leaving out the whole “eating a gorilla to gain its powers” part.
In Black Panther, the titular hero will also have to square off against Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the spurned Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis). It’s possible that Black Panther will hold off on turning Nakia and M’Baku against Black Panther, and will set them up as friends in this installment only to have them eventually go against their leader in future Black Panther movies.
I trust Coogler’s talent and storytelling ability, and I don’t think he’s going to overstuff his movie with villains. It’s possible that M’Baku is an opening scene threat like Crossbones in Captain America: Civil War, a villain who won’t take center stage, but will help further define the hero’s skills and abilities. At the very least, it seems like the main villain is still Killmonger.
Black Panther opens February 16, 2018 and also stars Danai Gurira.