The villains in Marvel’s upcoming 2018 release, Black Panther, will each have their own motivations for doing the things that they do. It’s unclear where exactly Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) falls into that except that he disagrees with the direction that recently murdered King T’Chaka was taking the country, and therefore with his son, the newly crowned King T’Challa, a.k.a. The Black Panther, as played by Chadwick Boseman. We’ve heard their relationship described as a bit like that of Magneto and Professor X — a healthy respect for each other even if there is some very strong antagonism in each of their opposing world views.
Comic Book caught up with Andy Serkis, who plays Klaue, and Winston Duke, who plays M’Baku, to ask them, essentially, just what their motivations are, what is driving them to oppose the rule of T’Challa as King of Wakanda.
Starting with Duke speaking about his character M’Baku, we know that he is the leader of the Jabari Tribe, a tribe more dedicated to a primal form of living. They are sort of like if there was a sect of Amish that was exceptionally violent. They see Vibranium as more of a corrupting force than a positive, technological achievement. They also worship a completely different deity, the White Gorilla God, from the mainline Wakandans, who worship the Black Panther deity.
This completely different worldview, of course, immediately puts them at odds with T’Challa and his family. As Duke says of M’Baku, “Well, M’Baku is the charismatic young leader of the Jabari tribe and the Jabari tribe is one of Wakanda’s main tribes. They’ve removed themselves from the mainstream Wakandan society and they don’t really believe in the importance of vibranium to the movement of the country forwards That puts them at odds with how the country is ruled and everyone else, for the most part.”
He then goes on to add to this — “M’Baku and the Jabari didn’t believe in the direction that T’Chaka was pushing the country and T’Challa is a continuation of that same plan and idea and worldview. So that immediately puts him at odds.”
Essentially, we have a tribe of religious zealots who see the technology of the country as the wrong direction for the country and they will do anything to see that direction changed. It also seems that maybe, just maybe, T’Chaka and his family are starting to see value in showing their true selves to the rest of the world, and most Wakandans are uncomfortable with this. I guess you could say that M’Baku and Killmonger are very much “Wakanda First” sort of leaders.
Then there’s Ulysses Klaue, played by Andy Serkis. We already met him in Avengers: Age of Ultron where he helped Ultron secure some Vibranium right before losing his arm to the vengeful robot. However, he’s absolutely back with a vengeance in this film, where he’s been described as the primary antagonist of the story, this in spite of having Killmonger and M’Baku involved.
Klaw, in the comics, is an outsider who knows Wakanda’s secrets all too well and knows exactly how to exploit their main resource — Vibranium. In fact, an accident with Vibranium makes him a creature composed of pure sound, making him almost impossible to defeat. After all, how do you beat up soundwaves. That, however, is an unlikely direction to take the villain in this film — it’s enough just to have an arms dealer doing his best to expose Wakanda for who they really are.
Sitting down with Comic Book, Serkis explains his villain’s motivations by saying, “He is the only person who has been into Wakanda and seen the wealth that it has and he wants to expose that. He believes them to be a hypocritical country. They’re playing this kind of ‘we’re a third world country’ card and he knows what’s underlying that so he’s trying to expose that.”
Most outsiders ever really make it into the interior of Wakanda and any who do never make it out — until Klaue. He’s the only outsider to ever see Wakanda and make it out alive, which in and of itself should tell you just who we’re dealing with here. Perhaps Serkis says it best when he says, “He is the bringer-down of governments. He collaborates. He’s an arms dealer. He knows how to play people and he has a personal vendetta against T’Challa as well.”
He can do all of that AND he has a personal vendetta against T’Challa — he’s not going to be an easy guy to bring down, that’s for certain.