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Wakanda Forever's Winston Duke Wants To Explore The Meaning Of Jabari Grunts In An M'Baku Spin-Off

With the absence of King T'Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman), "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is very much a film led by supporting characters. The likes of Shuri (Letitia Wright), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and Okoye (Danai Gurira) were all a part of T'Challa's story in 2018's "Black Panther," but they weren't the focus. However, for the sequel, they all had to step up their game to move the story forward, and they did so to great effect. Included among them is the Jabari leader M'Baku, as portrayed by a forever changed Winston Duke, who served a much different purpose in this film.

In the first "Black Panther," M'Baku was a rather antagonistic presence. He challenged T'Challa for the throne and was far from welcoming when his friends and family had to seek refuge on Jabari lands. Nevertheless, by the movie's end, he comes to respect T'Challa, fighting by his side against Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and later Thanos (Josh Brolin). In "Wakanda Forever," he's still the stern, straightforward M'Baku we've come to know, but he takes a vested interest in guiding Shuri down the right path — if not for herself, then for the betterment of all of Wakanda and its people.

Despite featuring semi-prominently in both "Black Panther" movies, Winston Duke feels there's more to explore about M'Baku and the Jabari tribe. More specifically, he'd like to delve deeper into their unique grunts in a Disney+ spin-off project.

Duke believes Jabari culture is worth fleshing out

Not long after the arrival of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" in cinemas, Esquire published its interview with Winston Duke on YouTube. Throughout the conversation, he touched on a variety of topics relating to the film and his experience as part of the "Black Panther" franchise. That includes his time developing the M'Baku character and realizing the Jabari as a fully-fledged culture in Wakanda. As he recalls, he and those surrounding him worked tirelessly to pin down who the Jabari are, their presentation, and how they communicate with one another — especially through grunts.

"The Jabari culture is so rich. There's so much. They are an entity unto themselves in the mountains," Duke said, noting that the Jabari are heavily influenced by Igbo culture. From there, he mentions that the Jabari's form of communication with each other through grunts and howls is something that would lend itself well to a spin-off of some kind. "If you get a spin-off that we get to learn what things mean and why, and why they're special, and dive into that culture, it would be something really special," he concludes, and it's hard to disagree that he's onto something with this pitch.

Duke has campaigned for a Jabari-centric project for some time

If you've followed the MCU news cycle at all in the past few years, you'd know that Winston Duke has spent quite a while discussing a project centered on M'Baku and the Jabari. For instance, back in 2020, he made it abundantly clear that he wouldn't turn such an endeavor down. "It's never lost on me that M'Baku has [led] me to have, so far, a varied and opportunity-filled career. So, I cannot forget that. I won't forget that. It's an honor to ever step back into the shoes of that character for any reason," he said, urging fans to get a fan campaign going for a M'Baku solo adventure (via Fansided).

Following up on this, Duke also told Collider that he'd love for M'Baku to get a spotlight all his own. Although, while he mentions that the Jabari deserve some time at the forefront, he'd like to take his character in a different direction. As he explained, "I like the idea of what M'Baku would be like, out in the world. That would be pretty cool because he's not a character that we usually see exploring." Time will tell if we'll get to see such a film, Marvel Studios Special Presentation, or Disney+ series become a reality, but one can only hope that Duke's endorsement of it helps its chances at least a little.

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