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The Origin Stories Behind the Villains of Black Panther – Part Two

The Origin Stories Behind the Villains of Black Panther – Part Two

Written by: Kai Charles

The following is part 2 of this series featuring the foes of the Marvel Comics superhero Black Panther. This editorial will focus on MCU villain M’Baku.

The inhabitants of Wakanda are not always docile to their leadership. An example of this is the story of M’Baku.


Cinematic Version

Winston Duke

In our first glimpse of Winston as M’Baku in the Black Panther trailer, he is in the midst of a battle.  Winston is a dominating presence in the brief clip. He also is not wearing the White Ape belt he is known for in the comics.

It was also recently confirmed that Winston is joining the Avengers: Infinity War film in the role of M’Baku as well.  This leads to some interesting speculation about the version of M’Baku we will see on screen.

Comic Book History

First Appearance: Avengers #62

M’Baku is one of Wakanda’s greatest warriors and was a friend of T’Challa’s. The rift between the two began when M’Baku disagreed with the technological advances Wakanda was moving towards. He wanted all technology to be outlawed and for Wakanda to return to their primitive state.

M’Baku had a contingent of supporters who agreed with his views. While T’Challa was once again away from the throne, M’Baku revived the White Gorilla cult. This outlawed cult hunted the sacred beasts and absorbed their powers by bathing in the animal’s blood and consuming its flesh.

M’Baku captures a gorilla and completed the ancient ritual and becomes imbued with the great creature’s strength.  T’Challa heard of the coup and returned to Wakanda with some Avengers. M’Baku challenged T’Challa to a duel and won. However, M’Baku’s pride got the better of him. He chained T’Challa to the Panther totem and tried to topple it. Instead, the totem crumbled and crushed him to death.

Like all good Panther foes, M’Baku was revived and again went after T’Challa by kidnapping his girlfriend Monica Lynne. M’Baku demands another duel with Panther and once again beats him but only by treachery.  The Avengers save Black Panther, who then banishes Man-Ape from Wakanda. If he returned he would face immediate execution.

This decree affected M’Baku deeply. He walked away from his vengeance and spent time doing mercenary work. He worked with the group Lethal Legion for awhile and even the Masters of Evil, only to meet continual defeat at the hands of the Thunderbolts and other heroes. What little success he had in the world outside of Wakanda came from mercenary work. He eventually returned to Africa but didn’t wage war on Wakanda.

M’Baku also made an appearance at the wedding of Storm and T’Challa. He came prepared to battle due to his lack of invite, only to find himself on the guest list. Several panels show him partying at the wedding and reliving his glorious battles.

The Namor/Thanos Invasions

In the series, AvX Namor becomes the holder of a portion of the Phoenix Force. This leads Namor to pledge his allegiance to Scott Summers, Emma Frost, and the other holders of the Phoenix Force. The action of the new team brings them into conflict with The Avengers. Initially, the Avengers try to reason with the X-Men who are part of the Phoenix collective.

After several fights, Scott Summers declares the Avengers must be stopped. When Namor discovers the Avengers are in Wakanda he floods the city.

The remaining members of the Phoenix Force draw all the power from Namor when he is in a weakened state after the battle.

In the aftermath of AVX, T’Challa is still forced to work with Namor as part of the Illuminati. Namor revels in the struggle this brings T’Challa and seems to regret nothing he did while under the influence of the Phoenix Force.  The Illuminati alone knows about the Incursion of Planets, that will lead to the destruction of their Earth. T’Challa keeps this knowledge a secret from Shuri, the current Black Panther. He tries to dissuade Shuri from her plan to retaliate on Atlantis for the flood, but cannot stop her from authorizing an attack on Namor’s home.

When Shuri learns that Namor has been meeting T’Challa at the Necropolis in Wakanda she bans him from the main city.   In an attempt to save the world the Illuminati assemble the Infinity Gauntlet, only to have all the gems but one, be destroyed.

When Thanos invades Earth during the Infinity event Namor lies to Thanos. He tells him the remaining gem is in Wakanda, leading to an all out attack on the city. T’Challa from Infinity the Marvel Universe entered its master reset:  Secret Wars 2015.

The Black Panther Trailer seems to take most of the iconic elements of these characters back stories from the comics and forging them into a definitive version of the Wakandian world.

Reading Guide

I highly suggest the Marvel Unlimited App. I was able to read the origins of all the characters mentioned in these articles.

I recommend the origin stories mentioned in these articles and also:

New Avengers Volume 3 : This series has a lot of Black Panther content and might even give some insight into events of the Avengers: Infinity War movies.

Black Panther (1998) : This is the start of the much hyped, well deserved Christopher Priest Run on the series.

Black Panther (2016) : This is the latest incarnation of the Panther, written by MacArthur award genius recipient and author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

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