The Black Panther Villains: What We Know And What You Should Expect

Since last year's San Diego Comic-Con, Black Panther has slowly been unveiling its cast, and last week, Marvel officially announced who all the main players will be, including the villains. Along with Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger and Winston Duke as M'Baku (as previously reported), it was also finally confirmed that Andy Serkis will resurface as Ulysses Klaue in next year's blockbuster. So while T'Challa is getting the hang of ruling over Wakanda, he'll also have deal with three baddies determined to give him hell in one way or another.

Now that Black Panther's main villains are public knowledge, we've decided to go over their comic book histories, any other media appearances they've made and what we can expect from them in the movie. Let's start with Erik Killmonger, who seems to be the primary antagonist of the MCU installment that will hit theaters on February 16, 2018.

Erik Killmonger

Erik Killmonger

Erik Killmonger was born as N'Jadaka, a Wakandan native whose father was forced into being one of Ulysses Klaw's slaves following the physicist's attack on the country. N'Jadaka's family was eventually killed, and the boy ended up in the United States with a burning hatred for T'Chaka, the king of his homeland, for allowing his loved ones to die. Taking the name Erik Killmonger, he became quite the learned man as an adult, obtaining a PhD in Engineering and an MBA at M.I.T. When he learned that T'Challa had taken over the Wakandan throne, Erik initiated his plan to destroy the son of the man he believed wronged him.

Pretending to be a Wakandan who simply wanted his exile from Wakanda to end, Erik Killmonger made contact with T'Challa in New York and secured repatriation back to the African nation. Once there, Erik began collecting resources and allies to help him seize the Wakandan throne and take the country. In Erik's eyes, the only way for Wakanda to truly thrive was to move away from the "white colonialist" influences of the present day and re-embrace the the country's ancient roots. Erik's first coup against T'Challa was successful, but the Black Panther later bounced back to defeat his enemy, and during their battle (but not by Black Panther's hand), Erik was killed. In traditional comic book fashion, he was later resurrected, and since then hasn't let up in his attempts to control Wakanda. Outside of the comics, Erik has only been seen as a playable DLC character in the video game Lego Marvel's Avengers, so Black Panther will essentially be his first major appearance off the printed page, giving Michael B. Jordan plenty of room to put his own spin on the character.


M'Baku (Man-Ape)

Before becoming Man-Ape, M'Baku was known as Wakanda's greatest warrior, second only to the Black Panther himself. However, M'Baku eventually grew dissatisfied with T'Challa's rule and Wakanda's reliance on technology, so he decided to grab the throne for himself. Allying himself with the outlawed White Gorilla Cult, M'Baku went through the ancient ritual of bathing in the blood of the tribe's namesake animal and eating the same kind of flesh, which gave him abilities like super strength, enhanced stamina and durability. However, even with his new powers, M'Baku was defeated in combat by Black Panther. Man-Ape has tried a few more times to gain control of Wakanda, but he's also become more of a conventional super-villain, striking partnerships with evildoers like the Grim Reaper and joining teams like the Lethal Legion and Masters of Evil.

Other then a few video game appearances, Man-Ape's most prominent appearance in other media is in the animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, where he killed T'Chaka and gained control of Wakanda. T'Challa left Wakanda to become Black Panther and properly defeat Man-Ape, and by the episode "Panther's Quest," he accomplished his goal. So far Winston Duke's iteration of the character has only been referred to as M'Baku, so it's unclear whether he'll become a monstrous ape-like man like in the comics or will be a more normal bad guy in Black Panther.


Ulysses Klaue

Ulysses Klaw started out as a normal human obsessed with one thing: sound. His ultimate goal was to create a machine that would convert sound waves into physical mass, but the only substance capable of powering such a device was vibranium. Klaw subsequently snuck into Wakanda so he could steal the metal, and during his trip there, he killed King T'Chaka, though he also lost his hand in the process. Years later, he resurfaced with a sonic gun replacing his lost appendage, and not long after during his confrontation with Black Panther and the Fantastic Four, he was transformed by his machine into a being of pure sounds. He now boasts abilities like super strength, durability and manipulating sound waves on his own, but he can no longer revert back to a natural human form. Although Klaw is arguably Black Panther's greatest nemesis in the comics, he also given heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four plenty of trouble over the years.

Klaw's other media appearances include The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Avengers: Ultron Revolution and BET's Black Panther animated series. However, unlike Erik Killmonger and M'Baku, Klaus has already appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the eponymous villain tracked down the arms dealer to pay him a handsome price for his vibranium supply. Unfortunately for Klaue (as it's spelled in this continuity), he noted how Ultron quoted Tony Stark, and that observation cost him his left arm. Still, since he's billions of dollars richer, it's possible that Klaue has been outfitted with a state-of-the-art prosthetic, serving as a subtle callback to his comic book counterpart's more unusual-looking bionic arm. Whether the MCU iteration of the character eventually becomes a being of sound or will be transformed in some other way remains to be seen.

Which villain are you looking most forward to seeing in Black Panther next year? Let us know in the comments below.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.