We know that Black Panther has had a few rivals during his time in both the MCU and the comics, but two of the most prominent people that he has clashed with in the Marvel universe (cinematic or comics) are M’Baku and Erik Killmonger. Of course, we know why these two have a history with Black Panther but what we also know is that they are also quite strong enough to take on the protector of Wakanda. So, who between M’Baku and Killmonger would win in a fight?
Killmonger will most likely defeat M’Baku in a fight. While M’Baku is just as strong and as durable, he doesn’t have the innate intelligence and martial arts expertise that Killmonger has. In that regard, it is unlikely that M’Baku can defeat Killmonger, although the battle can be quite close.
The thing about Erik Killmonger is that he is actually closer to Black Panther than M’Baku is to either of them, and that makes him an incredibly difficult opponent to defeat, even for T’Challa during his lifetime. That is why Killmonger has always been a tough opponent to defeat for Black Panther. So, with that said, let’s look at this battle in greater detail.
In the MCU, M’Baku was portrayed to be quite strong due to his innate size. He was portrayed to be bigger and stronger than T’Challa when the latter did not have the powers of the heart-shaped herb, and he almost became the king of Wakanda because of his innate strength. However, in the MCU, M’Baku doesn’t have the power of the heart-shaped herb as of this writing, and that will make it tough for him to match the strength of the characters with superhuman strength.
Killmonger, without the heart-shaped herb, was already quite strong when he was able to also showcase his strength in ritual combat against T’Challa. He was portrayed to be superior in terms of his physical strength. On top of that, when he became the new Black Panther, he had the power of the heart-shaped herb, which allowed him to fight T’Challa on par in their Black Panther costumes.
In that regard, there is no doubt that the MCU version of Killmonger is superior to M’Baku, as he has the heart-shaped herb on his side.
M’Baku 0, Killmonger 1
In the comics, M’Baku became Man-Ape, which allowed him to possess the powers of the sacred White Gorilla. As such, he became just as strong or even stronger than Black Panther. In fact, his strength in the comics is listed at 2 tons, and that means that he is stronger than regular human beings and is even stronger than Captain America.
During the time when he was given the power of the heart-shaped herb, Killmonger reached peak-human strength that made him comparable to not only Black Panther but also Captain America. However, after undergoing resurrection, he became stronger than he was and was able to obtain true superhuman strength. In fact, in the comics, he was strong enough to kill an adult elephant with his bare hands.
Before Killmonger’s resurrection, M’Baku was stronger than him. But after Killmonger’s resurrection, they are both just as strong as each other.
M’Baku 0, Killmonger 0
While M’Baku may live in a more primitive tribe up in the mountains of Wakanda, he was still portrayed to be quite smart as he was a good strategist which allowed him to become a capable military commander. He showcased his strategic side in the battle against Killmonger’s forces in the first Black Panther movie. And in Avengers: Infinity War, we saw him commanding his own forces in the fight against Thanos’s army.
The thing about Erik Killmonger is that he is a superb strategist in and out of war, as he is great at using his intelligence to his advantage to come up with strategies that were able to benefit him. That was what he did when he was able to navigate his way to the throne of Wakanda, as he was sly and cunning enough to earn his way back to his home country. And the fact that he spent years as a mercenary proves that he was an intelligent strategist and operative.
While M’Baku does seem like he is a capable leader and military commander, he doesn’t have the cunning side that makes Killmonger more dangerous.
M’Baku 0, Killmonger 2
In the comics, M’Baku isn’t as smart as his MCU counterpart, as he is often portrayed to be quite primitive in his approach. He is more of a brute than an actual combatant, and that means that he doesn’t use his head as often as the other characters in the Black Panther side of Marvel Comics. As such, he doesn’t seem to be as capable of a leader as the M’Baku in the MCU.
The thing about Killmonger in the comics is that he was shown to be a master inventor due to his degree in mechanical engineering. He was also considered to be a genius in terms of his intellect, as it was said that his intelligence rivaled that of T’Challa. As such, he has a well-rounded mind that’s gifted in the fields of politics, genetics, engineering, and industry.
There is no debating the fact that Killmonger is far more intelligent than M’Baku in the comics. It’s like a fight between a man and a caveman at this point.
M’Baku 0, Killmonger 1
The kind of fighting style that M’Baku possesses in the MCU matches his strength, as he was shown to be a master combatant when it comes to knowing how to brawl. In fact, he was able to overpower T’Challa in their fight due to his strength but managed to fall short because he wasn’t as good of a fighter. Nevertheless, he was still able to make things tough for T’Challa and has showcased his abilities as a great combatant, especially with the use of his club.
There is a reason why Killmonger was a great mercenary as he was always known for his superb fighting skills. In fact, he defeated T’Challa almost convincingly in their ritual battle, as he not only overpowered him but also showcased fighting skills that were on par. Killmonger showcased his skills as not only a brawler but a master martial artist that uses different styles in combat.
Even though M’Baku isn’t a slouch as a combatant as he nearly defeated T’Challa, the fact that Killmonger actually defeated T’Challa means that he is the better fighter.
M’Baku 0, Killmonger 3
M’Baku has always been a skilled hand-to-hand combatant in the comics but was always more of a brawler than a martial artist. Still, his strength and physical capabilities have allowed him to make things tough for Black Panther in their fights. In that regard, his style may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it is still pretty much effective against anyone.
One of the things that have made Killmonger the greatest rival to Black Panther in the comics is his superb fighting abilities. In the comics, he was shown to be a master of many different disciplines of martial arts, and his skills were great enough that he was actually able to defeat T’Challa in a fight. As such, he is an incredibly gifted fighter that has the right combination of strength, intelligence, and skills.
While M’Baku may be able to brawl his way out of a fight, that may not be possible against Killmonger, who has proven himself to be on the level of Black Panther in terms of his skills.
M’Baku 0, Killmonger 2
M’Baku vs. Killmonger: Who Would Win In A Fight?
There is no doubt that both the MCU and the comics version of M’Baku is a formidable fighter that can be considered a physical specimen. But, at the end of the day, there is a reason why Black Panther has had more problems dealing with Killmonger than he ever did with M’Baku. Killmonger is simply the more intelligent and more skilled of the two, even though M’Baku can match or surpass him in terms of strength. But because Killmonger is smarter and has better fighting skills, he would win this fight more often than not.