There's More To M'Baku's Weapons Than Meets The Eye In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," insults aren't the only weapon Winston Duke's tribal leader, M'Baku, wields. There's also his club, which previously came in handy when he was engaging in ritual combat atop a waterfall. M'Baku's furry armor is another key feature of his character design, but both that and his club only get him so far in battle against Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía) in "Wakanda Forever."

The first "Black Panther" film begins with a prologue showing how "a meteorite made of vibranium, the strongest substance in the universe" crash-landed in Africa in what would become the Kingdom of Wakanda. The movies do a good job of establishing vibranium, and the desire to protect this natural resource helps drive the plot of "Wakanda Forever." What the movies don't always make clear is the material M'Baku's club and armor are made of: namely, Jabari wood.

This wood is an important facet of Jabari society, which rejects the vibranium-powered technological advancements of Wakanda's capital and prefers instead to dwell in the mountains. You can see Jabari wood hanging all around M'Baku's throne room in the original "Black Panther." During the promotion of that film, Duke related how integral said wood is to the Jabari Tribe, telling Entertainment Weekly:

"[T]his is something we didn't get to interrogate deeply in the film, but everything for them is based around this Jabari wood that comes from this sacred tree. Everything in Jabari Land is made out of this sacred wood that can essentially go toe-to-toe with a vibranium sword or a vibranium weapon because it's this tempered, strong, treated wood. [T]hey're not against technology. They're against vibranium. Their society is based around Jabari wood."

Namor vs. Jabari wood for the fate of Wakanda

In "Black Panther," M'Baku wears a gorilla mask when he challenges T'Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman), and the Jabari have a gorilla face carved into the side of their mountain hall. His character in the comics is even known as Man-Ape, though producer Nate Moore has said in the past that they avoided using that name because of the "racial implications." Duke furthermore explained how the Jabari view their super-strong sacred wood as a gift from a divine ape, though it may in fact simply be infused with vibranium from the meteorite. He told EW:

"They believe it was given to them by Hanuman, the ape god. Meanwhile, the people of Wakanda will say, 'No, it's actually the vibranium that's seeped into the wood. That makes it stronger.' You have this whole divergence of ideas."

When Namor and his underwater forces invade Wakanda in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," M'Baku rises to its defense, jumping up in the air and bringing his club down on Namor in what would surely be a devastating blow to any other opponent. However, as M'Baku himself later recognizes, Namor is "as strong as the Hulk." He easily staves off M'Baku's club attack and punches right through his armor, sending him flying back onto the ground, much to M'Baku's surprise.

The scene plays well enough on its own, but when you realize that Jabari wood may be laced with vibranium, it adds another layer of shock to what happens. It's similar to the moment when Black Panther scratches Captain America's vibranium shield with his vibranium claws in "Civil War" – only in this case, M'Baku's armor doesn't hold up nearly as well.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is in theaters now.