M’Baku of the Jabari tribe has had one of the most fun arcs of any character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – from a rival to T’Challa, who was hostile to anyone outside of his own isolated tribe, to a fierce defender of the King, Wakanda, and eventually Earth (in Infinity War and Endgame).
Winston Duke plays him as mischevious, while also being a formidable warrior and great leader. One scene in the first Black Panther movie exemplifies this – and it’s the one where Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) go to M’Baku’s palace to request his help in getting Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) off the throne that he’s usurped.
M’Baku isn’t too happy when Ramonda or Shuri begin to speak to him, but he really loses it when Ross dares to open his mouth. The Jabaris respond by making a “hoo” grunting noise like the gorillas they worship, and M’Baku says that if Ross speaks again, he will feed him to his children. He follows this up with; “I’m kidding, we’re vegetarians” and he really makes himself laugh.
At a BAFTA event in London recently, Ryan Coogler revealed that it was Angela Bassett’s idea for M’Baku and his fellow Jabari people to ‘bark’ at Ross. “It was a scene in Black Panther where Angela didn’t have much to do,” Coogler recalled. “When we first ran through it, the scene wasn’t working. Angela only had a line or two in that scene, if any at all. And she was actually able to see, coming from the sidelines, what the problem was. She was able to pull me to the side and diagnose it and we ended up coming up with a great solution.”
Coogler continued; “It actually gave birth to a really great moment with Winston when he’s barking at [Ross]. It came from an observation that Angela had watching from the side of the scene.”
You can see more of Bassett’s Ramonda, Freeman’s Ross, and Duke’s M’Baku in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever of course.