M'Baku: 15 Things Fans Never Knew About Black Panther's Man-Ape

man-ape m'baku black panther

Black Panther has taken over the world of pop culture and entertainment. For all of its beautiful color and flavor, we can see why. The characters, costumes, music, choreography, themes -- all of it comes together to form a masterpiece of cinematography. One of the characters that really has the internet abuzz is M’Baku -- the great Man-Ape who leads the mountain-dwelling clan of the Jabari. Fans have fallen in love with Winston Duke’s portrayal of the Man-Ape character on screen. Wearing his white gorilla furs and oozing the cool confidence of regality, M’Baku’s compelling power is hard to deny.

He has the perfect combination of “bad boy” and “wise leader” -- which is partly what makes this character so interesting. Winston Duke has been shot to the forefront of super-stardom through this role -- for his acting skills, as well as his jaw dropping good looks. The Man-Ape is not new to the pages of Marvel Comics, having been around since his initial appearance in Avengers #62 in 1969, but never before now has the character been so resonant, even though his alluring character in the Black Panther movie remains mysterious. Hungry for more fun facts about M’Baku? CBR shares some things you never knew about Black Panther’s Man-Ape!

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Man-Ape Statue Black Panther Avengers Issue 62
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Man-Ape Statue Black Panther Avengers Issue 62

The Black Panther cult is not the only one of its kind in Wakanda. The Cult of the White Gorilla once rivalled that of the Panther, but due to their ruthless nature and morbid rituals, the White Gorilla cult was outlawed by Black Panther. While King T’Challa was assisting the Avengers in the United States, M’Baku revived the illegal cult -- which only requires that you stalk and kill a sacred white gorilla, eat its flesh, bathe in its blood, and then don the pelt of the poor beast.

This imbues the partaker with all the powers of the White Gorilla -- including super strength, agility, and longevity. We definitely prefer the way the Black Panther cult performs their rituals -- by consuming “the heart-shaped herb” -- over bathing in blood. We can see why T’Challa said of this cult , “In our legends, the most savage, the most merciless of beasts!” in Avengers #62.


Man-Ape Eating Meat in Black Panther Issue 62

In the Black Panther movie, M’Baku states in a memorable scene that the Jabari clan is vegetarian -- and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this may very well be the case. However, in the comics we aren’t given specific details on the diet of Man-Ape or the Jabari, but we do see them present at feasts where meat is being served -- such as in Avengers #62.

Regardless of how Marvel chooses to present the diet of the Jabari clan on screen, the backstory of The White Gorilla does require the whole hunting, eating and bathing in blood thing. Plus, those furs the Jabari wear had to come from somewhere -- and we’re assuming they didn’t order them from Amazon. On top of that, where are you gonna find enough vegetables to sustain such a large clan in those rugged and snowy mountains?


Black Panther MBaku Man-Ape

M’Baku is hailed as one of Wakanda’s greatest warriors, second only to King T’Challa himself. In addition to being one of the greatest naturally skilled warriors in Wakanda, M’Baku also has supernatural powers as head of The Cult of the White Gorilla. He possess superhuman strength, enabling him to lift upwards of ten tons. Man-Ape's muscle system produces less fatigue toxins during physical exertion than those of an ordinary human.

This means he can physically exert himself at peak capacity for several hours before the build up of fatigue toxins in his bloodstream begins to impair him -- a pretty nifty trait when fighting. M’Baku also has superhuman agility, balance, coordination, and reflexes -- making him a formidable foe for the mighty Black Panther, and an engaging character to watch in action.


Winston Duke is Man-Ape in Black Panther

The tension between the Jabari clan and the rest of Wakanda is thick enough to cut with a knife. They disagree with T’Challa over some pretty major concepts about how society should be run and the morality of technology. Overall, the audience is given the impression that M’Baku is stern, but friendly and altruistic enough to help out when his king is in trouble -- and he has such dreamy eyes... okay, we’re back!

Back in the world of comics, though, we are shown a far more aggressive and ruthless version the Man-Ape. Several times T’Challa entrusts M’Baku, only to be double crossed again and again. The Man-Ape even follows Black Panther to America and stirs up some serious trouble for him and one of his girlfriends! After this incident, M’Baku was banned from Wakanda, and went on to seek adventure and work as a mercenary.


Man Ape Black Panther Cover Issue 62

One thing that is made quite clear about M’Baku and the Jabari clan is their utter loathing of modern technology. In the Black Panther movie, the Man-Ape goes on a few rants about how technology is “decadent” and compromises the people of Wakanda as a whole. This is one of the primary reasons that the Jabari live in the mountains, isolated from the rest of the Wakandan clans.

Comic readers may have noted that M’Baku’s dislike for tech goes deeper than the reasons given on screen. The Man-Ape lusts for and thrives off of primal power. He wants to have ultimate power and feels technology robs him of his potential power -- as M’Baku says in Avengers #62 -- “For only in a primitive world is power its own reward!”


Man-Ape Statue 2 Black Panther Avengers Issue 62

The Great Man-Ape has died -- and been revived -- several times throughout his appearance in Marvel Comics. One that stands out as a favorite is from the pages of Avengers #62, when M’Baku attempted to kill Black Panther by crushing him with a black panther statue carved from stone -- oh we see the genius irony here. Instead of it crushing T’Challa, however, the statue crumbled onto M’Baku, killing him in the process.

Despite the fact the Man-Ape tried to kill him, Black Panther was disheartened by the death of his rival -- feeling it was unnecessary and a waste of a good warrior’s life. One of M’Baku’s faithful minions, N’Gamo (not yet shown on screen that we’re aware of) revived him with some “secret herb” -- so T’Challa gets to see him again in the end -- yay! We just love happy endings!


Man-Ape with the Lethal Legion

The great Man-Ape keeps himself quite busy with many extracurricular activities. Not only is he the leader of the fearsome Jabari clan and The Cult of the White Gorilla -- M’Baku has been a member of other groups as well. When he wanted to spite T’Challa and the Avengers, he joined the Lethal Legion, whose members have included the prickly Porcupine and much, much cooler Luke Cage (aka Power Man).

He later joined up with the seventh incarnation of the Masters of Evil, then led by the Crimson Cowl. M’Baku has also worked for Hydra, Villains for Hire, teamed up with Doctor Doom -- and even attended the AIM Weapons Expo on Boca Caliente. The Man-Ape must really enjoy getting out and meeting new people! He should make sure to list this on his Tinder -- it would go well next to “likes long walks on the beach and pina coladas.”


Man-Ape in Marvel Pan-African Congress Civil War

Despite the numerous times M’Baku screwed King T’Challa over before, Civil War brought these longtime foes together once again. The Man-Ape was a poor team player with fellow Wakandans, but felt he could assist with the Pan-African Congress on the Treatment of Superhumans. This was a group of Africans brought together in response to the American Superhuman Registration Act -- a legislative bill which attempted to enforce the mandatory registration of super-powered individuals.

Needless to say, this bill was highly controversial, causing rifts between those with powers on a global scale and triggering events leading up to Civil War. Unfortunately, the Pan-African Congress was a failure -- the representatives couldn’t reach an agreement before the end of the Congress -- sounds kind of similar to real life politics!


Grim Reaper Racist vs Man Ape in West Coast Avengers Issue 2

Man-Ape enjoyed a few romps with The Lethal Legion under the leadership of the Grim Reaper. Grim Reaper likes to walk softly and carry a big scythe, and has a thing for attempting to take down Stark Industries and the Avengers. He has come close a few times, but never been successful in his villainous quest. Reaper may have gotten further in his plots if he had been able to keep Man-Ape and Black Talon by his side.

Turns out that Grim Reaper is incredibly racist -- like, really, REALLY racist -- going so far as to call M’Baku a “savage” and cursing him for daring to “think.” This grossly offended Man-Ape, and rightly so, along with Black Talon, who both left Grim Reaper’s Lethal Legion after this encounter in West Coast Avengers # 2. The most ironic part is that Reaper was dating Nekra Sinclair at the time -- an albino African-American!


Black Panther MBaku and Morlun 2

As noted earlier, M’Baku has been killed off, only to return, several times throughout the comics. One death is so notable that it stands on its own -- his encounter with Morlun in the 2009 run of Black Panther. Morlun has been around since 2001, when he first started hassling Spider-man in Volume 2, Issue 30. A member of the Inheritors, this group of totemic hunters likes to spend their free time battling and feeding on totemic carriers.

This means they can consume the life force of beings powered by connections to the energy of animals -- such as spiders, apes, and cats. Morlun and the rest of the Inheritors are ancient, wield serious power, and decimate just about anyone they come across. The Man-Ape learned this hard way when he valiantly tried to stop Morlun -- and failed -- leaving behind a pile of ash and smoke where the once mighty warrior stood.


Kobik in Marvel Pleasant Hill Omega

A more recent addition to the Marvel Comics Universe, and one of its more complex characters, is Kobik. A project hatched by S.H.I.E.L.D., Kobik was created by compiling pieces of Cosmic Cubes. Capable of controlling matter and realizing the will of any sentient being wielding them, Cosmic Cubes can make just about anything happen.

Kobik, being made of these cubes, is an entity with some of the most powerful abilities in Marvel, and she identifies with the image of a little girl -- so she is extremely cute and naive, along with being incredibly dangerous. S.H.I.E.L.D. came up with the brilliant but creepy idea of using Kobik to control the minds of supervillains in an attempt to rehabilitate them. Man-Ape was one of the people who spent time at this facility, dubbed “Pleasant Hill.”


MBaku Assault on Pleasant Hill in The All New All Different Avengers Issue 8

In The All New, All-Different Avengers #8, a group of villains imprisoned in Pleasant Hill snapped out of Kobik’s brainwashing. Led by Baron Zemo -- a fascinating, twisted character who has been around since 1973 -- M’Baku and others attacked the village of Pleasant Hill. Utter chaos and havoc broke loose on the pages of these comics as these supervillains sought revenge on those who imprisoned them.

Freeing other villains in the process, freaking out a confused and distraught Kobik -- who is soothed by connecting with Deadpool, of all people -- the Assault on Pleasant Hill is one of the more metal and bizarre story lines M’Baku is involved in. Thankfully, the Avengers and a well-placed air strike put an end to the assault, but at heavy losses to both sides.


Man-Ape vs The Avengers 1 in the Avengers Issue 78

Not many can claim they have helped to take down the Avengers. Once assembled, the members of the Avengers are a seemingly unstoppable force. When Baron Zemo was aided by the Man-Ape and other villains in the assault on Pleasant Hill, they killed off the Avengers one by one. Kobik was horror struck by the death taking place at the hands of people she’d unwittingly brainwashed and tortured.

Thankfully, Kobik has the ability to manipulate space, time, and matter -- and after a nice little pep talk from Wade Wilson, Kobik revived the Avengers before she mysteriously vanished. It isn’t made clear what happens to the Man-Ape after he helped to overcome the Avengers and break out of Pleasant Hill -- it is hinted that there were few survivors -- but M’Baku continues to grace the pages of Marvel comics, so he got out somehow.


Mandla in Black Panther Vol 6 Issue 3

In August 2016, M’Baku’s younger brother was introduced to Black Panther. It can be intimidating when one has an older sibling who has accomplished great things. Mandla certainly had big shoes to fill when he took up the role of Man-Ape, leader of the Jabari, and The Cult of the White Gorilla, when M’Baku apparently died (for real... sort of). Mandla had all the promise of his older brother to be the same kind of powerful leader and warrior, especially with the aid of the powers of the White Gorilla.

In Mandla's case, though, they were gained via synthetic means, rather than the traditional methods involving the sacrifice of a live white gorilla. Unfortunately, Mandla had an encounter with The Midnight Angels of the Dora Milaje, which cost him his life as well. Perhaps the two brothers met in peace in the Wakandan Ancestral Plane.


Winston Duke Man-Ape Black Panther

Actor Winston Duke is enthusiastic in his role as M’Baku, The Man-Ape -- and for good reason. Winston is a self-described nerd who “studied religiously for the role.” He is so talented and well prepared for M’Baku, it is hard to believe this is his first major breakthrough role! His agents knew how much the part meant to him, stretching out the suspense of whether or not he landed his dream role.

When they called Winston to share the news, they made it sound like “bad news” and then shouted “YOU GOT IT!” Winston responded by breaking out into tears of joy and gratitude! We just love nerd joy! Winston is very actively involved with his fan base, and has a most excellent Twitter account. We hope to see more of him in future releases, especially as the steamy M’Baku!


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