Great stuff, everyone. It was fun to search for and find this thread so many months later, as I've developed many of the ideas here (much of it without even remembering specifics) for an adventure I'm running tonight.
I went with the actual country of Malawi (as written in the original Most Wanted #1) and read up on their real life history, then incorporated Leo into it. I'd only used the character once before in our long-running Guardians campaign. In that case, he was level 9 (as shown in the supplement) and was a bodyguard/soldier for a warlord in nearby New Babylon (formerly Madagascar; in our campaign this nation declared independence and became a nation of paranormals, patterned much like the Community of the Supernature in Elementals).
I'm also keen to use the "Guerrillas in the Mist" story seed DSumner posted awhile back, at least down the road. I'm also going to incorporate the rebels fighting Leo, using the character Partisan (as created by Ken Cliffe).
Here's the revised origin for Leo in my campaign. The only changes from "real life" are that dictator Banda died one year later ('98 instead of '97) and was lethally injected in his home country of Malawi instead of dying quietly in South Africa. He also lost his last election (after reforms), and in my version he returned home (after a four year stay in America) to retake power with a corrupt election. I fit in Leo's short period in New Babylon, advanced him so that he's now Level 27 (but only age 35, as shown in MW1), and everything else fits nicely. This is one of the first uses of adamantium in my campaign (other than in minor places like the origin of Adamantron), as I felt the incorporation of a mythical/fictional metal in Malawi made a lot of sense. I've also decided Malawi is much better off in our universe (i.e., no starving children), even though they are ruled by Leo, a benevolent dictator. Overall I was really pleased with how well this fictional origin fit in with real life events. 😎
Leopold Linus was born in 1978, the son of plantation workers in Malawi. Though the country gained independence in 1964, they were still at the time a member (though independent) of the (formerly British) Commonwealth. The discovery of adamantium drew many unscrupulous peoples to this part of Africa, intent on exploiting the nearly indestructible metal. It is not known what caused Leo to mutate, but as he aged he started resembling a lion, the most iconic beast of his continent. His body was impervious to harm and his strength was legendary.
As was permitted in his country, he joined the Army in his early teens and rose through the ranks quickly, becoming, quite literally, a super soldier. At the age of 16 he spent a year in nearby New Babylon, guarding and protecting one of his superiors who attempted to establish himself as a warlord in the newly independent nation. By 17 he mustered out of the military with the rank of Captain and was immediately hired as the personal bodyguard to the President (for Life) of Malawi, Hastings Banda. In this position he was privy to all sorts of governmental secrets and received many special privileges, all while the dictator he protected killed, tortured, and jailed thousands of political opponents. When Banda, facing international pressure and widespread protests, took a ‘prolonged vacation’ in America, Linus got the opportunity to study medicine at Harvard. During this stay, after a special assembly ended his life-term presidency and stripped him of most of his powers, Banda plotted to retake power in Malawi. Linus graduated with high honors just in time to return with Banda to Malawi, where he again reassumed power via a corrupt election in 1998.
Although his authority was again undisputed, Banda was not in the best of health. Linus was officially made a doctor (despite the fact that he’d only studied for four years, he was quite learned by Malawian standards) and became a national hero. Slowly gathering connections, he began organizing a coup. One evening in December 1998 he gave Banda, now on his deathbed, a lethal injection, then went on the radio and announced the President’s death. He told the people that he would take the position until the initial panic subsided and law and order could be restored. Those who opposed him were arrested and never seen again. Much like Banda, with the military on his side, his opposition soon dwindled to nothing and he has ruled the country with an iron fist ever since. He is known most of all for his ferociousness.