But I would like to kindly direct your attention towards one man in particular: M'Baku (Winston Duke), rebellious ruler of the Jabari tribe.
Now, I get it. There's a lot of big, beautiful muscles to take in, from our main hero, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in his sleek, skintight black leather supersuit to the powerful Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and skilled fighter Okoye (Danai Gurira). Then there's freakin' Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who is literally trying to kill T'Challa and us, the audience, with his physique that would put any Equinox regular to absolute shame. But, ladies and gentlemen: the real gem of the film was M'Baku.
He did it all: He was a villain — he tried to kill T'Challa! He was a hero — he [SPOILER] when we least expected it! He was the comic relief — "Just kidding, we're vegetarian"! He's complex, he's nuanced, and he's not hard on the eyes. As the "other" villain to Jordan's dreaded bro-y revolutionary, and the "other" breakout star of the film to Letitia Wright's witty, tech-y, gadget whiz, Shuri, it wasn't necessarily in the cards for Duke to be such a scene stealer — he was barely even in the trailer. But while audiences came in for the T'Challa and Killmonger drama, they stayed for the money shots of M'Baku mean mugging...everyone. And on top of all that, he did it from the high altitude of 6-foot-4.
From his Armie Hammer-adjacent height to his chic as fuck distressed leather-fur ensemble, I, along with a great majority of the internet, were left shook by this new Marvel bae, on and off the screen.
It's really a testament to director Ryan Coogler's vision that he chose Sir Duke (we can call him that) to be our complicated and aggressive M'Baku. Black Panther is Duke's first ever feature film, but he does have history with the cast — he went to school at Yale University with Nyongo'o, and Angela Bassett, who plays T'Challa's mother, Queen Ramonda, also attended the Ivy League school.
After graduating from Yale, Duke entered the hectic world of professional acting with an episode of Law & Order, and a guest role on Modern Family. And then he landed Black Panther, which single-handedly deprived every movie theater of liquids, leaving movie-goers around the world with an unquenchable thirst.
So what's next for the Sir Duke and M'Baku?
Well, it looks like M'Baku is going to make an appearance in the next Avengers (we love a villain-hero alliance!) and IRL Duke is currently tearing up the social scene, attending GQ events with fellow breakout star Timothée Chalmet and sitting front row at fashion week with a heap of other handsome boys. I'm sure his IMDB is about to explode any day now, and he may even head to Broadway — a man who dons a gorilla mask for traditional fight for the throne and can carry a tune?!
When you're 6'4", look good in a suit, and charming as hell, you're invited places. Even if you leave everyone parched.
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