An Ode To Black Panther's M'Baku And His Amazing Carrot Crunching

Spoilers ahead for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is finally in theaters. There are some heavy themes running through it, dealing with the death of both King T'Challa and actor Chadwick Boseman. In a way, it's a meditation on grief for the characters and even for fans. Despite that, there are some really funny moments, and a whole lot of them come from M'Baku. Winston Duke once again plays the role of the leader of the Jabari Tribe. 

As you recall, M'Baku and his tribe lived separately from the rest of Wakanda, eschewing the technology that came with Vibranium. M'Baku fought to claim the leadership of Wakanda against T'Challa, who spared his life. In return, M'Baku helped save the Black Panther's own life when he was gravely injured in the battle with Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). 

One of the best moments in the first film was when M'Baku threatened to feed Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) to his children. After a moment of panic, he laughs, saying, "I'm kidding. We are vegetarians!" There is a very cute nod to that in the new film from M'Baku, who is the MVP of "Wakanda Forever." Let us wax poetic about M'Baku, cruncher of carrots. 

A vegetarian hero

There is so much more to M'Baku than the fact that he's a veggie, but the moment in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" where he chomps on a carrot while learning about Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía) sort of encapsulates his character. He's smiling in the face of danger, joining in to fight with the rest of the country that he once shunned, and snacking unabashedly on a Bugs Bunny treat as a giant of a man. For me, it was a moment reinforcing the fact that he defies expectations for the character at every turn. (It's also pretty great to see as a veggie myself!)

He's strong and proud of his tribe's decisions, and yet completely willing to change after the events of the first film. He's honoring his tribe by sticking to his traditions but also making himself a part of the Tribal Council and participating with the rest of the country, which is something that really hasn't happened for centuries. He's a huge warrior and clearly one of the best fighters in Wakanda, and yet his snacks are carrots. Grinning and nibbling on root vegetables while hearing about an enemy that can fly and hypnotize your warriors is pretty badass. 

By the way, I know there was a lot of debate about whether or not he was joking about being a veggie since he does mention that one of his fishermen found T'Challa in the first film. Fish isn't vegetarian, of course. I think the carrot moment sort of gives the nod to those of us who believe he is a veggie. He does say in that quote, "I will feed you to my children." [Italics are my own.] So maybe it's just his family? Maybe they fish for trade? My headcanon says vegetarian, but your mileage may vary. 

The comedy MVP, but so much more

This is all in fun, of course, because a good carrot "cronch" is always going to make me laugh. That said, M'Baku has one of the most heartfelt moments in the film, and it could certainly carry over to the future. Shuri is dealing with so much loss, and he actually asks her about what she wants. When she mentions being a child (something he himself has called her in the past), he tells her that she's experienced too much loss to be considered a child anymore. Honoring her loss and how that has made her mature in a way she shouldn't have had to is a beautiful gesture. He does it again when he is the one to test her with a little arm wrestling after she becomes Black Panther

We don't know what's coming in the future of the MCU for M'Baku. That said, it does seem that he'll play a bigger part in the future of Wakanda along with Shuri. I don't know who needs to hear this at Marvel Studios right now, but I do hope that means we'll be seeing a lot more of him. Anyone who can retain such a wonderful sense of humor after loss, a fight with Thanos, five years of existing after the Snap, the destruction of some of his country, and the loss of his friend and his Queen (Angela Bassett) is a character I'd like to see get his own film or show. 

Let us all raise our carrots to M'Baku of the Jabari Tribe!