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Wakanda Forever Proves M'Baku Is Worthy Of Lifting Thor's Hammer

Contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

The stakes are higher than ever in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," and few things exemplify this better than M'Baku's (Winston Duke) role in the story. "Black Panther" introduces the Jabari leader as a powerful starter antagonist who can challenge the temporarily depowered T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) on even terms, eventually becoming a formidable ally in the fight against Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and his forces. In "Wakanda Forever," however, the mighty Jabari is physically so far out of his league that Namor (Tenoch Huerta) defeats him with a single, casual punch.

However, don't take that to mean M'Baku is down for the count. On the contrary, he plays a key role in the movie as the voice of reason, and the end of "Wakanda Forever" even sets M'Baku up as a potential ruler of Wakanda. The movie builds on "Black Panther's" revelation that despite his gruff appearance and boastful demeanor, M'Baku is an extremely decent person. So decent, in fact, that after the character development he receives in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," it's easy to believe that M'Baku is worthy of lifting Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) hammer. Here's why.

M'Baku's actions in Wakanda Forever prove he's worthy

Many characters in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" are either conflicted, overwhelmed, or outright antagonistic toward each other. In the middle of this all stands M'Baku, who enters the picture during a time of national crisis, munching a carrot and dealing surprisingly mature words of wisdom from behind his threatening facade.

From that point on, M'Baku continues to prove himself over and over again as the national crisis escalates to a potentially global war. When Namor and his Talokanil flood Wakanda's capital, the Jabari drops his swagger virtually mid-sentence, and fearlessly jumps in the water to rescue helpless civilians. When he gets a shot at the Talokan god-king, he immediately takes it without even considering the vast difference in their power levels. Most importantly, he once again acts as a fair and reasonable leader, as the Jabari shelter the other Wakandan tribes from Namor's impeding second attack. M'Baku also proves to be an extremely wise figure, to the point that he actually takes up mentoring Shuri (Letitia Wright) after family dies and she becomes the new Black Panther.

Put all of this together, and you get a boisterous, powerful warrior who's nevertheless fair, wise, and unflinchingly noble — not to mention willing to tackle vastly more powerful enemies without any superpowers of his own. Add the fact that M'Baku is a proven leader and a surprisingly learned guy in the pile of his positive traits, and you might notice that Thor Odinson himself has managed to wield Mjolnir with far less "worthy" traits than M'Baku has demonstrated.

M'Baku compares favorably to other Earthlings who have lifted Mjolnir

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has long established that Thor's not the only person who's worthy enough to lift Mjolnir. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" notably teases that Captain America (Chris Evans) can move the enchanted hammer, and "Avengers: Endgame" reveals that he can fully wield it when he feels the need. In "Thor: Love and Thunder," we find out that Mjolnir also accepts Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who even transforms into the Mighty Thor when she uses the hammer.

Both Steve Rogers and Dr. Foster are clearly pure and heroic enough for Mjolnir, but since Jane's bond with the hammer stems from an enchantment, Captain America is the sole comparison point when it comes to people who can just up and lift Mjolnir without Thor tinkering with user permissions. Fortunately for M'Baku, he ticks virtually all the same boxes as Steve does. Both men are willing to fight more powerful enemies, with or without superpowers. They're invariably on the side they consider to be right, and follow their moral compass without question. They're both noted leaders, and after the events of "Wakanda Forever," M'Baku is likely at least as much of a hero to Wakanda as Steve is to the U.S. What's more, they're both genuinely good and honorable people who are always ready to help people in need.

Granted, M'Baku has a far bigger trollish streak than Steve, and he revels in blurring the line between genuine and acted boorish behavior. Then again, when you consider what Thor is like, a penchant for comedic and boastful moments likely makes M'Baku more suitable to wield Mjolnir, if anything.

Thor and Mjolnir are currently having adventures in space, so it's unclear whether M'Baku ever actually gets to try his hand at lifting the hammer. However, should he ever get the chance, the Jabari leader has demonstrated more than enough worthy traits to potentially succeed.