Black Panther producer Nate Moore has explained that the movie will handle the problematic villain M’Baku delicately, exploring him as a member of a religious minority in Wakanda.
“The character of M’Baku has always been problematic,” Moore said, as reported by CinemaBlend. “Man Ape is an image that I personally find offensive, and can be offensive if handled incorrectly. But the idea of the character that we especially borrowed from the [Christopher] Priest run specifically, of this guy who is the head of the religious minority in Wakanda, that’s fascinating. That’s something that’s real. That’s something that we felt we could ground and give him a real character story that made him worth including. So defining the world of Wakanda and how M’Baku and the Jabari fit in that world was important in making that character work at all. Otherwise, we would have just taken him out.”
First appearing in 1969’s Avengers #62, M’Baku — also known as Man-Ape — was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. The character leads the Jabari tribe, who are members of the White Gorilla Cult, which worships the gorilla god Ghekre. In the comics, their religious practices are outlawed in Wakanda. In regards to the character’s problematic history, Moore said last year that M’Baku will not be referred to as “Man-Ape” in the film.
Directed by Ryan Coogler from a script he wrote with Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, Winston Duke as M’Baku and Forest Whitaker as Zuri. The Marvel Studios film arrives in theaters on February 16.
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