The Jabari, Wakanda's Vegetarian Warriors, Explained – Collider

You’ll want these guys on your side.
Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever paints a picture of a different Wakanda than we've seen before. This film depicts a grieving nation forced to fend off invaders at the revelation of their supply of vibranium, one of the strongest metals in the Marvel universe. Ramonda (Angela Bassett) rules the nation in T'Challa's (Chadwick Boseman) place while Wakanda deals with these challenges without the protection and symbol of the Black Panther. Another development witnessed for the first time is the changed role of the Jabari tribe in Wakanda's society. Many of Wakanda Forever's scenes include M'Baku (Winston Duke) serving as the representative for the Jabari in the now-expanded council. The Jabari show a different perspective, adding another layer to the inner politics of Wakanda.
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Around 2.5 million years ago, a meteorite made of vibranium, one of the universe's strongest known metals, crashed into Africa, also changing the surrounding environment. When humans evolved, 5 tribes settled in the area but were in constant conflict with each other, the Jabari being one of them. Bashenga, a warrior-shaman, had a vision from the panther-goddess, Bast that led him to what would be known as the Heart-shaped Herb, which gave him superhuman abilities. With these, Bashenga united 4 of the 5 tribes and became King of Wakanda.
The Jabari tribe didn't agree to submit to his rule and retreated to the nearby mountains, living basic lives in isolation while the rest of Wakanda utilized technological advancement via vibranium. They built their own city in the mountains and worship the gorilla god Hanuman, as opposed to the panther goddess Bast, who is worshipped by the rest of the nation. Because of their opposition to vibranium, the Jabari are skilled in more traditional activities such as woodworking and agriculture.
The Jabari are first seen in modern day when they interrupt T'Challa's Coronation Ceremony. Their leader, M'Baku, challenges T'Challa in ritual combat for the throne and Black Panther mantle. While at one point it seems like the Jabari leader could win, T'Challa comes out on top by the end of the fight, and instead of killing the challenging warrior, he spares his life, showing the type of King he would be.
The Jabari seem to take this to heart, saving the King when his next challenger, Killmonger aka N'Jadaka (Michael B. Jordan) doesn't show the same mercy to T'Challa, pushing him off the ceremonial waterfall. Recovering him, they protect his body until his family returns with the last remaining Heart-shaped Herb, which is able to restore him to full health.
Later, the Jabari support T'Challa's bid for King when he returns to The Golden City to reclaim his throne. The Jabari warriors fight Killmonger's forces while the two Black Panthers duke it out themselves. Once T'Challa has reclaimed his position, he later greets a new tribal council. M'Baku now sits on the council as the 5th tribal elder.
The Jabari are once again seen in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In the former, the Jabari warriors fight in the battle at the Wakanda border against the Black Order and Outriders, Thanos' (Josh Brolin) army. When Thanos secures the last Infinity Stone from Vision (Paul Bettany), Jabari warriors are among those snapped out of existence with M'Baku surviving, but helpless to do anything.
In the 6 years following the snap, Queen Ramonda leads Wakanda, with the surviving Jabari still playing a more inclusive role in Wakanda society thanks to their prior support of now-snapped T'Challa. When Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) resurrects Thanos' victims (known as the Blip), the returned Jabari are recruited among other Wakandans by sorcerers to help defend Earth against his incursion at the Avengers' Compound.
After T'Challa dies due to illness, Queen Ramonda takes command of Wakanda until she is killed during an attack by the Talokans, a group of mutants living undersea hidden by vibranium. During this time, M'Baku, still serving on the tribal council, acts as an advisor to Shuri (Letitia Wright), who takes up the Black Panther mantle after synthesizing a new Heart-shaped Herb. After the attack on The Golden City, the Jabari also open their arms to provide shelter for the Wakandans displaced by the damage.
When it's time for Wakanda to respond, M'Baku is the only tribal elder to err on the side of caution and advocate for a non-violent solution, showing how the nation and its views stack up compared to the other Wakandan tribes. However, Shuri rejects his advice and decides to lure the Talokans into a battle. The Jabari continue to support her in this venture, and fight until Shuri and the Talokans' leader, Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), call a truce.
Wakanda Forever's final minutes include a brief scene where M'Baku challenges to become King, notably with Shuri absent. With little left between M'Baku and the throne, this puts the Jabari in a position of power completely foreign to the tribe that once lived in isolation. And they don't even eat meat!
Amanda is a writer and dog handler currently residing in Los Angeles. When she isn’t writing or working, she’s probably binging a drama or sci-fi and doting on her two cats, Drummer and Kiki. Twitter: @bylineamanda


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