‘Black Panther’ Antagonist M’Baku Will Not Be Called ‘Man-Ape’

Marvel is looking to get away from causing controversy over the name of one of their characters (M’Baku) by not using his supervillain alias (Man-Ape) in the film.

The latest reveal from Entertainment Weekly as part of their ongoing Black Panther coverage is that Winston Duke’s M’Baku will only be referred to by his own name. Executive producer Nate Moore explained that this was to avoid a bunch of ugly discussions about whether or not the movie is racist (in spite of the movie having an almost entirely black cast, an African-American director, and being one of the few tentpoles that feature an African superhero):

“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.”

The Black Panther mythos itself heavily emphasizes the tribes of Wakanda modeling themselves after various animals, so it’s good to see that the movie version of M’Baku will still honor apes in his own way. But in a time where racial tensions in the United States are incredibly high, it’s a shrewd move on Marvel’s part to adjust something so that nobody has to get into a messy fight over this sort of thing.

Black Panther strikes on February 16, 2018. The movie will feature a cast that includes Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa (Black Panther), Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, John Kani as T’Chaka, Sterling K. Brown as N’Jobu, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Kilmonger, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, and Winston Duke as M’Baku (Man-Ape). In addition, Atandwa Kani has been cast in an unspecified role.

Source: Entertainment Weekly