We have learned a lot in the last several says about Black Panther and today Entertainment Weekly has given us a new image and more information about M’Baku (Winston Duke) and the first we big we learn is he won’t be called Man-Ape.
“We don’t call him Man-Ape,” executive producer Nate Moore said. “We do call him M’Baku. 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. But the idea that they 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.”
They are approaching M’Baku in an interesting way that adds another element of political intrigue to the entire proceedings.
“You learn that M’Baku is essentially the head of the religious minority in Wakanda and we thought that was interesting,” Moore said. “Wakanda is not a monolithic place. They have a lot of different factions.”
Director Ryan Coogler also spoke about how M’Baku evolved as a character when the writers began to treat Wakanda like it was an actual place in Africa.
“A lot of the writers who did some of the most interesting work around the character, they treated Wakanda like a truly African country,” Coogler said. “When you go to countries in Africa, you’ll find several tribes, who speak their own languages, have their own culture, and have distinct food and way of dress. They live amongst each other, and together they make the identity of those countries. That’s something we tried to capture. We wanted it to feel like a country, as opposed to just one city or town.”
Moore went on to talk about how M’Baku fits into the story as a whole and while his motivations may be different from T’Challa’s that doesn’t make them necessarily wrong.
“In M’Baku’s worldview, T’Chaka made a huge mistake going to the U.N.,” Moore says. “‘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.’ Politically, he just has different ideology,” says Moore, who compares the mountain tribe to one of the deadly rival “five families” in The Godfather. “Man-Ape is a problematic character for a lot of reasons, but the idea behind Man-Ape we thought was really fascinating. … It’s a line I think we’re walking, and hopefully walking successfully.”
There is a moral ambiguity to almost all of the characters in this movie which is what Coogler thinks is going to make it hard to pin one specific person as who is completely in the right.
“In this movie, it’s a little tricky to define who’s a [good guy],” Coogler says. “The film very much plays with those concepts, looking at conflicts and different motivations, and who’s with who. M’Baku is a really interesting character, and I’m excited for people to get to see him.”
it’s really great that the filmmakers are doing something interesting with a character who, when he was first announced, sounded like he could be problematic. It means that everyone involved with this movie is aware of every aspect of their movie.
T’Challa, 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.
Black Panther, directed Ryan Coogler, stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Martin Freeman. It will be released on February 16, 2018.
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