M'Baku is the leader of the Jabari Tribe, a group of Wakandans who have removed themselves from mainstream society, and a staunch opponent of T'Challa's rule who ends up torn between challenging him for the throne only to help him defend Wakanda from Erik Killmonger. Seeing the threat that Killmonger posed to the world, M'Baku chose to save T'Challa's life and gathered his armies to help defeat Killmonger in their final battle, with M'Baku gaining a seat on the Tribal Council as a result of his choice.
Leader of the Jabari
M'Baku grew up in the Jabari Tribe, he was shunned by Wakanda's use of Vibranium and had a distaste of of it's mainstream lifestyle. Eventually, M'Baku gained leadership over the tribe and set out to rule over the Jabari Land.
Challenging Black Panther
- "We have watched and listened from the mountains. We have watched with disgust as your technological advancements have been overseen by a child who scoffs at tradition. I know you want to hand the nation over to this Prince who could not keep his own father safe. We will not have it. I say: we will not have it! I, M'Baku, leader of the Jabari..."
"I accept your challenge, M'Baku."
- ―M'Baku and T'Challa
During T'Challa's coronation, Zuri asked if any warrior would challenge for the throne. M'Baku stepped forward, declaring himself as challenger. T'Challa accepted M'Baku's challenge, with the duel commencing. M'Baku managed to restrain T'Challa in a bear hug, beginning to crush him under his strength. Hearing the Wakandans' chanting his name prompting him to get back up, T'Challa managed to escape the bear hug and crack M'Baku's ceremonial mask, stunning him. T'Challa then pushed M'Baku to the edge of the Warrior Falls, where he pinned M'Baku, telling him to yield, as he didn't want to kill him. M'Baku continued to struggle under T'Challa's grasp but ceased when T'Challa told him that the Jabari Tribe needed him. M'Baku yielded, and accepted T'Challa as the victor, leaving the Falls and heading back to Jabari Land.
After T'Challa was presumably killed by his cousin, Erik Killmonger, M'Baku has the severely wounded T'Challa, who happened to be found by Jabari Tribe fishermen, to be brought back to the tribe and covered with snow to stabilize his failing vital signs, as a repayment for sparing his life during the tribal combat. They are however, unable to nurse him back to health, due to lacking the advanced technology the rest of the country shares.
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M'Baku is known for his ruthless personality, but hold a great respect for T'Challa, which shown by having him saving his life as a favor for sparing him in a ritual combat. But behind his ruthless demeanor, he also has a twisted sense of humor, which shown by threatening to feed Everett Ross to his tribe, only for him jokingly revealed that the tribe are vegetarians.
- Peak-human strength : M'Baku has strength which is much more superior to that of a normal human. He is capable of lifting up humans with a single arm even without the heart shaped herb enchantment. He even managed to overwhelm T'Challa in their battle.
- Expert Combatant: As a Wakandan warrior and tribe leader, M'Baku is well versed in melee and unarmed combat, often using his size, weight and strength in his fighting style. He is proficient in the use of blades, shields and blunt weapons, which he used to fight T'Challa and against several Wakandan soldiers. His combat prowess allowed him to nearly overwhelm and defeat the prince of Wakanda in ritual combat before T'Challa got the upper hand.
- Multilingualism: M'Baku is fluent in his native language, Xhosa, as well as English.
- Hardened Jabari Wood Armor: To be added
- Knobkerrie: To be added
- Jabari Tribe - Subordinates
- Golden Tribe
- Nakia - Guest
- Everett Ross - Guest
- Dora Milaje
- In the comics, M'Baku is the second most powerful warrior in Wakanda after T'Challa, and the leader of the White Gorilla Cult under the name of Man-Ape. He is also one of T'Challa 's most dreaded enemies.
Behind the Scenes
- Black Panther producer, Nate Moore, stated “We don’t call him Man-Ape, 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.”
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II auditioned for the role of M'Baku. He will later go on to play Black Manta in the DCEU film Aquaman.