The casting of Winston Duke as M'Baku in Marvel's Black Panther may seem like a curious one if you are not familiar with Black Panther's comic book history. If you are familiar with it, you know that M'Baku is also known as the Man-Ape and is one of Black Panther's greatest enemies.
M'Baku is known as the second greatest warrior in Wakanda, only next to T'Challa a.k.a. the Black Panther. But as with any sort of royalty, there are always those who plan to usurp the throne. M'Baku is just that usurper — and his character sheds a light on more of Wakandan culture.
The White Gorilla Cult
In Captain America: Civil War, it was touched upon that Wakandan culture primarily follows the Panther. But did you know that there are three other cultures that belong to Wakanda? There is the Lion as well as the Crocodile.
Though those have been touched on, the other major one is the White Gorilla cult. While Wakanda became more tech-savvy as the years went on, not everyone agreed with that progress. The White Gorilla cult was much more of a hunter-warrior culture and believed that "might equals right" when it came to leadership. So those who still followed the White Gorilla cult were outlaws.
M'Baku is the greatest warrior in the White Gorilla Cult. There is nothing more that he craves than to become in control of Wakanda.
Wakanda Is Still Such An Enigma
There is no doubt we'll learn more about Wakanda in the Black Panther movie. And while we will probably get the bulk of knowledge from T'Challa's perspective, it is good to see it from other points of views as well.
Like with any country, there are not only outside problems to deal with. Why did the White Gorilla cult become outlaws instead of continuing to live in harmony with the others? Maybe they were in fact helping in the theft of the vibranium that played a large part in Avengers: Age of Ultron? T'Challa is inheriting a kingdom that he was not prepared to inherit any time soon. Not only does he know that, but the enemies of the kingdom will know it as well.
T'Challa is also still something of an enigma. We know that he is superhuman in the vein of Captain America; we also know that he is a great fighter. But what about his past? Do he and M'Baku know one another from their youth? Maybe this helps drive the conflict between them. Maybe M'Baku is not even an enemy in this film, but one set up for future movies. Details are still scarce and Marvel Studios is notorious for playing things close to the chest.
Enemies, Enemies and More Enemies
We already know that Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger will be the main villain of the Black Panther movie, but rumors indicated there would be another villain in the movie. Many assumed that this would be Klaw, played by Andy Serkis, who was last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But with this casting choice, maybe it is in fact M'Baku who is the second villain.
Erik Killmonger is something of a lone operator, but even he knows that T'Challa has an entire kingdom at his beck and call. So what better way to challenge the Panther than with the help of the White Gorilla? A king will always have his hands full with various problems in his kingdom. No doubt this will extend to his enemies as well.
Wakanda Is Key To Expanding The Marvel Cinematic Universe
As was hinted at in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, Wakanda is important. Mainly due to its cache of vibranium but, in the latter movie, also because they are no longer isolationist. This is no doubt going to bring conflict to the nation as well as to the new king.
M'Baku a.k.a. the Man-Ape is one of Black Panther's oldest foes in conflict, a challenge to the new king and his new kingdom. So it is a welcome effort to see the two longtime foes no doubt go at it for the first time on the big screen in Black Panther's solo movie debut.
Black Panther will be released on February 16, 2018.