Marvel's Black Panther has shot to the top echelon of most-anticipated upcoming comic book movies, thanks in large part to a slick and stylish first trailer, which has opened up the nation of Wakanda to a world of viewers who may never have experienced it before.
Thanks to a recent magazine feature, we are learning (and seeing) more and more of what director Ryan Coogler has done with Black Panther - and now we know a bit more about one of the several Marvel Comics villains that appear in the film!
According to EW's feature, Marvel fans hoping to see the character of "Man-Ape" onscreen in the live-action film, need to re-align their expectations. The character of M'Baku (played by Person of Interest star Winston Duke) will NOT be going by his colorful (read: silly) comic book alter-ego name in the film.
According to Black Panther executive producer Nate Moore, "We don't call him Man-Ape, We do call him M'Baku."
As with everything surrounding Black Panther (even the hero's name / the movie's title), there is a cultural sensitivity component that must be considered. As Moore acknowledges:
"Having a black character dress up as an ape, I think there's a lot of racial implications that don't sit well, if done wrong."
This is not the first time that Marvel has had to circumvent this type of problem: Iron Man 3 had to find a way to do a version of The Mandarin that wouldn't offend as a horrible Asian stereotype; and Doctor Strange caught flack for changing "The Ancient One" to avoid a similarly loaded stereotype.
It just goes to show: for all the great creative ideas and characters Marvel has put out, a lot of them date back to a time when cultural awareness and sensitivity was not nearly as prevalent as it is today.
As for how M'Baku fits into Black Panther's storyline? Moore says:
"You learn that M'Baku is essentially the head of the religious minority in Wakanda and we thought that was interesting. Wakanda is not a monolithic place. They have a lot of different factions...the idea that they [M'Baku's mountain tribe] worship the gorilla gods is interesting because it's a movie about the Black Panther who, himself, is a sort of deity in his own right.
In M'Baku's worldview, T'Chaka made a huge mistake going to the U.N. 'We should never engage with the outside world. That's a terrible mistake. And if his son is anything like his father, I don't support him being on the throne.'"
Black Panther will hit theaters on February 16, 2018.
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Black Panther currently has a 4.03 out of 5 ComicBook.com User Anticipation Rating making it the seventh most anticipated upcoming comic book movie among ComicBook.com readers. Let us know how much you're looking forward to Black Panther by giving it your own personal ComicBook.com User Anticipation Rating Below.
Marvel Studios' Black Panther follows T'Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
Black Panther is directed by Ryan Coogler from a screenplay by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa / Black Panther alongside Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.