Black Panther: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Klaw

Black Panther is finally upon us, and like 2017’s Wonder Woman, it is not only a critically-acclaimed big-budget superhero film that aims to please fans of the genre, but an actual historic moment for cinema and culture.

Though some argue that Will Smith has released several action films throughout his career and that Blade came out in the 1990s, many feel like Black Panther is the first standalone film headlined by a superhero of African descent to truly embrace the lead character’s race and origins. Out of the 11 lead characters in the film, 9 are portrayed by actors of African descent, which is also a significant feat.

To counterpoint all of these ideas that Black Panther brings up, there had to be a villain, and no one was more perfectly fitted for the job as Ulysses Klaue, also known as Klaw, who has been a staple arch-enemy of T’Challa, and of Wakanda as a whole.

Reprising his role as Klaw is Andy Serkis, an actor mostly known for his motion capture performances as Gollum (Lord of the Rings), Caesar (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Supreme Leader Snoke (Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII).

This is Black Panther: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Klaw.

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Mr. Fantastic takes out Klaw with vibranium knuckles
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Mr. Fantastic takes out Klaw with vibranium knuckles

Just like Black Panther himself, Klaw was originally introduced in a Fantastic Four comic book storyline. Black Panther / T’Challa was first seen in 1966’s Fantastic Four #52, and a man by the name of Ulysses Klaue was introduced in the very next issue, Fantastic Four #53.

Klaw, the supervillain as we’ve come to know him, was revealed three issues later, in Fantastic Four #56, as a red-skinned, alien-looking character deemed as the “murderous master of sound.

Klaw made his television debut a year later, in 1967, in a Fantastic Four cartoon series. As Black Panther went on to star in his own comic book series, starting with Jungle Action #5, Klaw moved on from the Fantastic Four and became a villain more closely associated with T’Challa and Wakanda.


As far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is concerned, it was established in Captain America: Civil War that T’Chaka, King of Wakanda, was killed during a terrorist attack (orchestrated by Helmut Zemo) that followed his signing of the Sokovia Accords. T’Challa not only had to step up and succeed his father as the King of Wakanda, but it also led him to become more involved with the Avengers as a consequence.

However, make no mistake: in the comics, T’Chaka was killed by none other than Klaw, not by a random terrorist who was trying to get in the way of the Avengers. This certainly made things a lot more personal for T’Challa as he was trying to hunt down Ulysses Klaue, because it was not only a matter of protecting Wakanda, but also getting revenge on his father’s death.


In the original Ulysses Klaue origin story in the comic books, the character was shown as being the son of a Nazi war criminal, Fritz Klaue, who fought for Germany during World War II. Fritz is sent to Wakanda by Adolf Hitler himself to learn about that nation’s secrets. Upon discovering the rare metal called Vibranium, he decides to take some of it back to Germany at any cost, thinking that it would be useful for their fight in the war. Fritz’s mission failed, and he was killed while trying to steal from the Wakandans.

This background gave the comic book version of Ulysses Klaue some personal stakes, and somewhat explained why he’s always been so obsessed with Wakanda and felt so much hatred for those people.


Klaw Age of Ultron

A lot of Ulysses Klaue’s comic book origins are tightly related to Nazi Germany, a touchy subject that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already explored (during Captain America: The First Avenger) and is probably not keen on bringing back up. For that reason, as far as the MCU is concerned, the character of Ulysses Klaue is described as being from South Africa, with reports that he was eventually located in Belgium.

In the comics, Klaw also eventually ends up living in Belgium, but his time in Germany and connection to Nazism is a significant portion of his origin story that was left out of his live-action portrayal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As he appears in Avengers: Age of Ultron and becomes a major villain in Black Panther, his citizenship bears less significance - besides the colonialist undertones of his being a white African.


In order to explain just how much of a threat Klaw is to Wakanda, Chadwick Boseman – who portrays the title character in Black Panther – decided to make a real-world reference during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

Boseman explained, “You have Wakanda, which is an isolationist society, Klaue has entered that space and knows more about it than anybody else. Because of that, he is a threat.” Later, the actor goes on to say, “He is the Osama bin Laden of the movie. He’s out there, and you have to go find him because he’s coming back at some point in time.”

Osama bin Laden was the founder of Al-Qaeda, the organization responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. He was hunted down for many years by the FBI, and eventually found and killed in May of 2011.


Despite having originated as a Fantastic Four villain and going on to become a Black Panther arch-enemy, Ulysses Klaue was also constantly in the way of another Marvel character: Ultron.

While many fans criticized 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron for introducing too many characters and trying to explore too many storylines within a single film, it actually made a lot of sense that Ulysses Klaue was introduced in that particular installment. It gave the MCU an opportunity to showcase a live-action Klaw facing off a live-action Ultron, a battle that happened several times throughout many comic book storylines.

Since Ultron was destroyed in that very same film, there would’ve been no other opportunity for Klaw to fight against him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which deems his inclusion in Age of Ultron as a great thing.


By the time Black Panther starts, it is established that Ulysses Klaue shared a partnership with N’Jobu, a rogue Wakandan who helped him steal Vibranium. As N’Jobu dies, Klaw becomes an ally of Erik Killmonger, who is N’Jobu’s son.

But this Erik Killmonger connection with Klaw wasn’t always true in the comic books, where Erik was often shown as hating Klaw just as much as he hated T’Challa. In a particular comic book storyline where Erik Killmonger attempts to take over Wakanda (which inspired the events of Black Panther), he does so by himself, without the involvement of Ulysses Klaue.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Klaw and Killmonger are allies (up to a certain point) who are trying to take over Wakanda for very different reasons.


Actor Andy Serkis, who first appeared as Klaw in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, will appear in Black Panther alongside a fellow actor with whom he’s had an important connection in a different franchise: Martin Freeman.

Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman worked together in 2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in which Freeman portrayed the title character (Bilbo Baggins) and Serkis reprised his Lord of the Rings role as Gollum through the technology of motion capture. In Black Panther, however, Andy Serkis is actually a person on-screen who interacts with Martin Freeman, not an animated character who is digitalized and edited into the film.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman discussed the fact that they are the only two white actors in the main cast of Black Panther, which they described as being “inconsequential” to their performances.


Aside from The Hobbit connection between Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman, there is also a huge Star Wars influence in the casting of Black Panther, as three actors in the film have previously starred as characters in the galaxy far, far away.

Andy Serkis, who plays Klaw, portrayed Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Also in those two films was Lupita Nyong’o, who played Maz Kanata in the Star Wars franchise, and portrays Nakia in Black Panther. Finally, there’s Forest Whitaker, who was Saw Gerrera in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and now joined the Wakanda universe as Zuri.

As both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars saga are owned by Disney, this is a significant extension of these actors’ relationship with the studio.


Klaw in Civil War movie vs Black Panther comics

In the comics, Klaw’s body is made of solid sonic energy, which gives him strength and abilities that go beyond the average person. This body composition is also the reason Ulysses Klaue looks so inhuman in comic books, unlike his cinematic counterpart.

As Klaw was introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron and lost his arm, many fans assumed that such damage would be the beginning of the character’s transformation into what he looks like in the comics. However, in Black Panther, Klaw looks essentially the same, with the one difference being the arm-cannon that replaced his lost arm.

If Ulysses Klaue’s body was made of solid sound in Black Panther, he would’ve certainly been a stronger match to face off against T’Challa.


Because of Klaw’s body being made of sonic energy, the character was essentially immortal in the comic books, joining the ranks of characters such as Wolverine and Deadpool, who can effectively take all the damage in the universe without actually ever dying. This also made him immune to aging, as well as someone who didn’t need food, water, sleep, or oxygen to survive.

The very few weaknesses Ulysses Klaue had included Vibranium-inflicted damages, certain sound frequencies, and exposure to vacuum (where sound doesn’t travel).

In the MCU, he was portrayed as nothing but an average man with a cool weapon as a substitute for his arm, which essentially meant that, like most characters in Black Panther, he had no actual superpowers or ability to withstand damage.


Marvel Ulysses Klaw with soundwave monsters and whistling a tune

In the MCU, Ulysses Klaw seems to be leading a pretty independent operation that has no association to anything else. He’s not associated to Hydra or any other major organization that exists in the cinematic world of Marvel Studios.

That was a different story in the comic book, however, where Klaw was associated with a variety of organizations throughout his publication history. The first supervillain team he was part of was the Frightful Four, alongside Wizard, Hydro-Man, and Titania. In other iterations of the Frightful Four, he also fought along with Red Ghost, She-Thing, Lyra, and Trapster. Perhaps most notably, Klaw was also associated with the Masters of Evil teams led by Ultron, Crimson Cowl, and Helmut Zemo.

On occasion, Ulysses Klaue was also part of A.I.M., an organization that has been teased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but never truly explored.


Another major point of differentiation between the comic book version of Klaw and the live-action MCU portrayal of the character has to do with his profession.

In the comic books, Ulysses Klaue comes from a military family that fought on the side of Nazi Germany, and went on to become a highly-skilled physicist who studies sound manipulation and creates a weapon capable of blasting sonic energy to hurt others.

As seen in Age of Ultron and Black Panther, however, the Marvel Cinematic Universe decided to depict Klaw as more of an arms dealer and gangster, which better justifies his intentions for invading Wakanda and stealing Vibranium to build weapons.

The arm-cannon used by Klaw in Black Panther also came from Wakanda, not from his own inventions, which further showcases the significant changes of this character in the MCU.


Ulysses Klaw explodes in Superior Carnage

As the supply of Vibranium was deemed short in the world, an artificial (and less effective) variant of the metal was created: Reverbium.

Instead of absorbing sonic vibrations, Reverbium did the opposite, blowing away even the smallest amounts of sound frequencies. If this sounds like the perfect weapon for a villain like Klaw, who has mastered the manipulation of sound, that’s because it is.

Reverbium was known for boosting Klaw’s abilities in the comic books, making him stronger than ever.

Since Black Panther had to spend so much time already introducing Wakanda and better explaining the several uses of Vibranium, it is understandable that the MCU decided to just focus on those elements for now. It is likely, however, that Reverbium will be brought up at some point in the future of the franchise.


Rudyarda – named after Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book novels – is a fictional city that borders Wakanda in Africa, and one that has historically clashed with Wakanda in political matters. Rudyarda has always been portrayed as a segregated and quite racist city where white supremacy is predominant.

As Klaw was attempting once again to invade Wakanda, he wound up in Rudyarda and went to jail on the grounds that his skin was not white, which is definitely an ironic fate for a character who constantly tried to steal the most precious resource from a predominantly black nation such as Wakanda.

There are no clues as to whether Marvel Studios will ever include Rudyarda in the MCU, but odds are that this is one element of the Black Panther mythos that should be forgotten.


Do you have other trivia to share about Klaw from Black Panther? Let us know in the comments!

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