Warning: SPOILERS below for Black Panther!
Aside from Infinity Stones, Vibranium is the most valuable and coveted commodity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As established in Black Panther, Vibranium arrived on Earth millions of years ago in the form of a gigantic meteor composed of the metal. The meteor crashed in the continent of Africa, whereupon the nation of Wakanda was built around the “Great Mound” of Vibranium. Over millennia, the Wakandans learned to harness Vibranium, which is the most versatile substance on the planet. Vibranium is stronger than steel and nearly indestructible; because of its ability to absorb and deflect kinetic energy, the metal is completely vibration absorbent. The Wakandans have manipulated Vibranium for myriad uses, including weapons, vehicles, buildings, and even clothing and jewelry.
Vibranium is the rarest metal on Earth, but it is abundant in Wakanda, which keeps its existence a zealously-guarded secret. For its own protection from colonization, Wakanda’s true nature stays hidden. The mysterious African nation presents itself as a poor Third World country to outsiders. In actuality, Wakanda, which is ruled by King T’Challa, the Black Panther, is the most technologically advanced and wealthiest nation on the planet.
However, despite the Wakandans’ best efforts, supplies of Vibranium have escaped their borders over the years. Here is every instance Vibranium has been seen in the MCU thus far:
This Page: Wakanda’s Vibranium and Captain America’s Shield
For centuries, the Wakandans have mined the Great Mound of Vibranium. They built their nation – including Wakanda’s gleaming capital city – around it, with the country’s true face shielded from the outside world by an invisibility screen. The Great Mound itself extends miles below the African continent’s surface and houses the advanced laboratory of the Wakandan Design Group, headed up by the teenage princess Shuri, the most brilliant person on Earth (even smarter than Tony Stark).
All of the vehicles, aircraft, weapons, and armor worn by Wakanda’s soldiers and the elite Dora Milaje are comprised of Vibranium in some form or another. Perhaps the most impressive Vibranium suits of all are the various Black Panther suits worn by the line of Kings. The newest Black Panther suit created by Shuri improves upon T’Challa’s design and features the ability to absorb and redirect kinetic energy. The new suit is housed entirely in T’Challa’s necklace and can morph over him. Of course, it comes with the Black Panther’s trademark Vibranium claws.
The Vibranium in Wakanda’s soil bonded with a rare plant which became known as the Heart-Shaped Herb. Found only in Wakanda, the Herb grants the Black Panther his superhuman strength and endurance when it is ritually ground up, liquified and drank. Zuri is the spiritual figure who tends to the garden of the Heart-Shaped Herb, but the garden was burned to the ground on the orders of King Erik Killmonger. Nakia salvaged one last Herb to restore the powers of King T’Challa, but as of the conclusion of Black Panther, Zuri is dead and the garden has been destroyed. However, it’s likely Zuri’s priestesses and helpers will have the means to grow more Heart-Shaped Herbs in the future.
Captain America’s Shield
In 1940, Howard Stark brought a limited supply of Vibranium to the United States, which he acquired “from deepest Africa.” All of that Vibranium was used to construct a shield, which was presented to the only success of the Super Soldier Project, Steve Rogers. The shield became Captain America’s trademark weapon. Though a similar shield was sighted in Tony Stark’s Malibu lab in Iron Man 2, Steve Rogers and his Vibranium shield were resurrected in the 21st century after being frozen in ice in 1945. Rogers wielded the shield until the conclusion of Captain America: Civil War, when he abandoned it and the Captain America mantle after being taunted by Tony Stark. The shield is technically the property of the U.S. Government, which likely took possession of it after Rogers became a wanted international fugitive.
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