With production slated to begin this coming January on Marvel's Black Panther, the studio has brought on Person of Interest star Winston Duke as M'Baku, a.k.a. Man-Ape. This villainous character is said to have a "key role" in this adaptation. It isn't known if Man-Ape will be aligned with the movie's main villain, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, but this casting may shed some light on a cryptic statement by Lupita Nyong'o.
During Marvel's Comic-Con presentation, the studio brought out Chadwick Boseman as T'challa, who was introduced in Captain America: Civil War along with his co-stars Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger), Danai Gurira (Okoye) and Lupita Nyong'o (Nakia). During interviews after the presentation, Lupita Nyong'o revealed the first story details, stating that Black Panther's "leadership is threatened when two foes come together," as T'challa seeks the help of both the CIA and the Dora Miljae. At the time, it wasn't known who these "two foes" may be, but it's possible that it could be Erik Killmonger and Man-Ape.
The Man-Ape character made his Marvel Comics debut in Avengers #62 in March 1969, created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. The character was one of Wakanda's most powerful warriors, and a frequent rival, who aligned himself with the outlawed White Gorilla Cult, which aimed to bring Wakanda back to its earlier, more primitive state. He has also been a part of villainous groups such as Lethal Legion, Masters of Evil and, most recently, Purple Man's group known as Villains for Hire. The report from Variety does not reveal if this version of the character is affiliated with any of those groups from the comics in this movie adaptation.
Earlier this year, a new report claimed that Avengers: Age of Ultron star Andy Serkis will reprise his role as Wakanda native Ulysses Klaue, along with Captain America: Civil War star Martin Freeman, who played Everett K. Ross. Those characters have not been confirmed yet, but the report also claimed that other Marvel Comics characters such as Monica Lynne, T'challa's longest love interest, will also be cast, along with N'Gassi, T'challa's adviser, Queen Divine Justice, a member of the Jabari tribe, W'kabi, T'challa's second in command and Zuri, a close friend of T'challa.
It's worth noting that Man-Ape was among the many characters listed in that casting call, so it's possible that we may hear about the rest of these characters being cast soon. Others included in the casting call are Reverend Achibe, Malice and White Wolf. Director Ryan Coogler is co-writing the script with Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson). Marvel has set a February 16, 2018 release date for Black Panther.
Marvel had tested a number of actors, including The Get Down star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, before choosing Winston Duke, who recently graduated from Yale Drama School. Winston Duke is best known for his role as Dominic in an arc on CBS' Person of Interest, and he has also had guest-starring arcs on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Messengers and Major Crimes. Black Panther will mark his feature film debut.