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M'Baku's Underwater Fights Were Cut From Wakanda Forever Because The Costume Was Too Heavy

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" has been highly anticipated and highly nerve-wracking since the first film succeeded in becoming arguably one of the best MCU films ever put to the silver screen. After the death of Chadwick Boseman, the incredible actor who brought T'Challa to life, fans and his fellow costars weren't entirely sure what the groundbreaking film's sequel would hold, but "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" has shifted its focus accordingly.

The film brought its female characters into the spotlight. With Shuri (Letitia Wright) fulfilling the fan theories and taking up the mantle of the Black Panther, Ramonda (Angela Bassett) stepping back up to shoulder heavy responsibility in her son's absence, and Okoye (Danai Gurira) continuing her ever-important role as the General of the Dora Milaje, this installment is more female-oriented than ever before.

That's not the only shift that "Wakanda Forever" has made, though. In the absence of T'Challa, many characters needed to step up to the plate in order to cover the bases that the King of Wakanda normally would have been responsible for himself. Fans rejoiced when Winston Duke returned as M'Baku to play a more significant role. Watching M'Baku's fight scenes really made the audience feel like they were watching someone extremely powerful who should not be crossed. M'Baku's screen presence speaks for itself, but it did come at a cost.

Winston Duke blames his boots for why he couldn't do the underwater fights

"The M'Baku costume is so heavy," Winston Duke explained during an interview with Esquire. The way that he exaggerated this statement suggested that he was really trying to express just how restrictive and cumbersome the costume actually was.

Marvel stars are no strangers to this unfortunate phenomenon. Many actors have spoken out about how difficult their costumes proved to be. Tom Hiddleston, who plays the anti-hero Loki, has talked about how annoying Loki's armor is to get in and out of multiple times. Idris Elba, who plays the golden-eyed god, Heimdall, has voiced his visceral hatred for Heimdall's golden armor due to how uncomfortable it was to wear and maneuver in. Of course, Elba had more issues playing Heimdall beyond what he had to wear, but the costume was part of the problem. Apparently, Winston Duke has the honor of joining the list of Marvel actors who have to make the best of a not-so-ideal costume.

"I had some swimming scenes in the final fight that got cut because my boots were too heavy," Duke elaborated further. "'Unless they wanted me to anchor the boat,' I said. 'I can't really be the guy that's fighting in the water.'"

The weight of M'Baku's costume became so overbearing, it would have likely been a safety hazard to actually carry through with Duke's swimming scenes. Unless, of course, he was able to rid himself of the lead-like boots that were dragging him down.

Duke wanted M'Baku to feel like a tank

During the same interview with Esquire, Winston Duke spoke about requesting to adapt M'Baku's combat style to something he believed would be more in character for the warrior.

"I remember asking to change some of my fight movements because I said, 'He's, you know, he's a tank, essentially.' So on the battlefield, I said, 'I wanna fight like a cannonball," Duke said. He makes a fair point here, as M'Baku should be one of the film's heaviest hitters. "Like if I can run into people, and if I can take a hit and like, throw a big blow, so large, big, you know, impactful swings and things like that," the actor continued.

The role of a tank, in video game parlance, is essentially to throw heavy-hitting blows that force enemies to fall back while also intercepting many of the incoming attacks in order to take the brunt of the damage. That way, allies can continue their tactics without taking too many critical hits. A tank is meant to be as protective and defensive as they are meant to dish out high-damage attacks, so it makes sense that Winston Duke would want to emphasize this for M'Baku. Considering the limitations of M'Baku's costume, this seems like a reasonable accommodation to still allow the character to have a powerful on-screen presence as well as make a lasting impact during the important combat sequences.