When we first met Ulysses Klaue, played by Andy Serkis looking like himself for once, in Avengers: Age of Ulton we all thought he seemed a little off. When asked what he was most afraid of his response was “cuttlefish”. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to Black Panther for awhile now and with Klaue already established all the way back in 2015 it was only a matter of time before he returned. When Den of Geek asked Serkis if he knew that he was going to return for Black Panther.
I kind of had an inkling that it was going to happen if the Black Panther movie was going to happen, because I knew that Klaue was a major adversary in the universe, in the comics. When Joss Whedon asked me to do Klaue in Ultron, I knew that was the introduction to something, but I didn’t know what. I didn’t know at what capacity. Then when Ryan took it on, he just wanted to have more fun with it, really. We’d already set him up as a slightly kind of left field … dangerous, but kind of slightly bizarre sense of humor and slightly quirky character. Then Ryan really took it to town and we really played with it and invented stuff as we were going along.
In the movie Serkis and the script take the insanity of Klaue up another notch to the point that he’d comedy relief if he wasn’t so keen on killing people. The performance by Serkis is fun to watch and it’s clear he’s just having a ball playing the character.
Really, in the spectrum of this movie, he represents one of the world’s takers. There is nothing about him that gives or commits or gives to anybody else or cares in any way. He has no empathy whatsoever. He is obsessed with obtaining as much vibranium as possible. He is an arms dealer. He’s a negotiator par excellence who works with governments, keeps everybody at arm’s length. There is no one that’s close to him. But we wanted to make him appealing and sort of like you actually wouldn’t mind having a drink with him. He’d be fun to hang out with, until you realized he was quite dangerous.
We all know that there are plenty of directors that have told the actors not to read the source material and that is usually ends poorly. When it came to Klaue’s history Serkis did some reading but also felt that the character had room to change since he wasn’t that well known.
Well, I mean, certain aspects of the comics. Like his back history. You know, he was a South African, he was a Boer. He was a South African Boer and has always had that attitude towards people of color. There is a kind of racist element to him, for sure. He talks to Killmonger and calls him “boy” in that old South African way. That sense of apartheid that he’s grown up with has never left him, really. In terms of the invention, I think we have free rein because people don’t really know who he is, so much. I mean, obviously aficionados would, but he’s not an overly scrutinized character, I don’t think.
The fact that Serkis acknowledges that Klaue likely has some racists beliefs is something the film doesn’t directly address but he does call the Wakandian’s “savages” at one point. He’s a fun character to watch on screen and it’s even better that we all got a reminder that Serkis can act without a bunch of tiny dots all over his face.
Summary: 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’s out now.