After Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War, I cannot wait to see what Marvel has in store for his solo film Black Panther. The character was surprisingly nuanced, complex, and the one who grew the most in that film.
We know he would be facing off against Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan, but Variety broke the story that Black Panther will have another foe to fight, as well. The outlet is reporting that Winston Duke (Person of Interest) has been cast as the supervillain Man-Ape in what it describes as a “key role.”
In the comics, M’Baku is a friend of T’Challa who betrays the ruler and tries to take over Wakanda. He gets superhuman abilities by killing a rare white gorilla, bathing in its blood, and eating its flesh, at which point he begins calling himself Man-Ape. In the Ultimate line of comics ,M’Baku is T’Challa’s older brother, so it may be possible the film will use this version instead.
Duke joins a cast that includes Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o as members of the Dora Milaje, who are T’Challa’s personal body guards. We’ve seen one of their order in Civil War played by Florence Kasumba, but she has gone off to join the cast of Wonder Woman, so I doubt she is reprising the role.
The addition of Duke hasn’t come as a surprise since earlier this year, Nyong’o described the plot of the film to Marvel.com (via Collider) as:
“The story of this Black Panther is – what am I allowed to say? – The story is that the Black Panther’s leadership is really threatened by two foes who come together, and so Black Panther gets the help of the C.I.A. and the Dora Milaje to try and defeat the enemy.”
It had been widely speculated that the other major villain would be Ulysses Klaue, played by Andy Serkis in Avengers: Age of Ultron, who was the one who killed T’Challa’s father in the comics. Another possibility was Nyong’o’s character Nakia of the Dora Milaje, who turns evil in the comics.
T’Challa’s allies are also pretty interesting, since the only C.I.A. character we know about is Sharon Carter, but it’s possible she left after helping Captain America. I would have to believe that she is very good at covering her tracks, so it remains a possibility. Everett Ross, who also appeared in Civil War played by Martin Freeman, has long been associated with Black Panther, is another likely possibility. The most intriguing ally T’Challa could call on is the Winter Soldier, who is currently in stasis in Wakanda.
Black Panther will premiere in theaters on February 16, 2018.