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Who is Man-Ape? 'Black Panther' Adds Winston Duke as Second Villain

Marvel has added yet another actor to the cast of Black Panther: Variety reports Winston Duke will play the villain Man-Ape in the superhero movie, which begins filming early next year. Duke isn’t a well-known name yet and only has a few credits including a brief recurring role on Person of Interest in its fourth season. So, let’s focus on who Man-Ape is instead.

Who is Man-Ape?

Man-Ape is the supervillain alter-ego of M’Baku, another great warrior from Wakanda who attempts to take the throne away from T’Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). He has super strength acquired by consuming the flesh and bathing in the blood of a sacred white gorilla. He asserts himself as the rightful ruler of the nation by claiming to be the greater warrior and does so because he’s against the tech-focused direction it’s taken. He wants to return Wakanda to a more primitive culture. 

Is he only a minor villain in Black Panther?

This is unclear. While M’Baku is a major Black Panther foe in the comics, being cast later and with an unknown actor indicates he’s at least relatively minor compared to Michael B. Jordan’s already cast villain, Erik Killmonger. But both characters are set on taking over Wakanda and returning it to its ancient ways, so they’re possibly working together in the movie. There’s also a chance of Andy Serkis reprising his Avengers: Age of Ultron role as non-Wakandan baddie Ulysses Klaue, at least briefly.  

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Will the part require some lessons from Chadwick Boseman? 

Because T’Challa/Black Panther has already debuted in the MCU, in Captain America: Civil War, there’s a model for what a Wakandan sounds like. And so of course Jordan and Duke will need to speak in the same dialect that Boseman and others spoke in as characters from that fictional country. Boseman recently told the L.A. Times “It’s primarily based in the Xhosa dialect, but it’s not that.” He continues in the interview to discuss preparations for the Wakandan accent for Civil War and now Black Panther:

We looked at specific people from Kenya, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone — which is actually where my ancestors are from — but I wanted to use whatever would inspire me for certain sounds. That added to it. Because we now have Danai [Gurira] and Lupita [Nyong’o] who have a more direct connection to the continent; they will bring their own flavor to what’s done. I’ll be listening to them and listening to what they do and continuing to create, because again, this is a fictional thing but you want it to feel real.

You want it to be something. For me, Wakanda has never been conquered. So I wanted to make sure that he didn’t speak like … well, at one time they were thinking he’d have a European accent or an American accent. I said that would not be fine because if we did that, that would be saying that they had been colonized. That was something that I wanted to make sure happened, that we stuck to that in the character.

When does Black Panther come out? 

Look for the first black superhero and his apparently all-Wakanda-set story to hit theaters on February 16, 2018. 


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