Being a superhero isn't cheap, requiring gadgets, training, suits, caves (or mansions), customized vehicles, and what we can only assume is outrageously priced insurance. For wealthy heroes like Iron Man and Batman, born with platinum spoons in their mouths, their powered suits and heroic excursions are simple. But even the richest of Marvel's inventor heroes--Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Hank Pym--are positively "middle class" compared to what must be the wealthiest comic character ever created: Black Panther.
Years before the current King T'Challa's reign, a meteorite of Vibranium crashed into the country now known as Wakanda. This extraordinary material has its obvious super-uses in Marvel Comics, as the material behind Captain America's Shield, Blade's Sword, and Black Panther's own suit, just to name a few. And it's that very same Vibranium that makes Wakanda's current King T'Challa the richest superhero in Marvel Comics.
Vibranium, Marvel's Miracle Metal
Fans of the MCU have gotten several glimpses into Wakanda over the last several films, but in the comics the nation has also been the pinnacle of technological advancement in Marvel's Universe for decades. Wakanda has advanced energy, weapons, transportation, and medicine. And after sending their most gifted minds to the outside world to combine that knowledge with their own unique and unnatural resource, the result is one of the most impressive nations on the planet. With an almost priceless material completely at their disposal, the African nation's financial potential goes beyond simple dollars, cents, or square footage.
Money estimates the current wealth of Wakanda to be $90.7 trillion dollars (based on a 1998 issue of Fantastic Four that estimated the value of Vibranium to be $10,000 per gram). Currently, the most expensive metal on Earth is rhodium, which sells for around $30 a gram. Diamonds on the other hand sell for roughly $2,000 per gram, a little closer to the supposed market price of Vibranium. But where rhodium and diamonds are mostly cosmetic, Vibranium is a miracle metal.
Capable of returning any kinetic energy it receives, Vibranium's uses and potential are only limited to the imaginations of Marvel writers and artists. It can be used to propel trains, propel attacks and even decorate entire cities. While mostly related to weapons of awesome destruction, the comic-Wakandans have developed and manufactured multiple forms of Vibranium like Living Vibranium and Reverbium. If the MCU Wakanda is able to capitalize on their Vibranium in the same way, there will be plenty of this marvelous material to go around.
The Impossibly Wealthy King of Wakanda
Just why does T'Challa inherit all of this wealth? Because Wakanda is a monarchy, which its king has fought hard to both win and defend. T'Challa inherited his crown from his father T'Chaka, and has done more than enough to earn the title in his debut Marvel solo film. But over the last several years in Marvel's Universe, that monarchy has implemented more and more democratic principles. So as power and possession moves away from the king, T'Challa may no longer be the richest superhero in Marvel Comics (though his Vibranium suit alone likely makes him a billionaire). As one of the noblest and sincerest characters in comics, chances are the King doesn't care about his net worth.
Inventors and scientists like Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Hank Pym have made millions and billions out of their numerous inventions. Patenting and profiting by spreading their technology around the world. Under King T'Chaka and T'Challa, Wakanda has done the exact opposite. Keeping it's advancements and technological prowess a secret from enemies and allies alike. The Kings of Wakanda have used their great wealth to improve the lives of their people, and now look to better the world around them. Introducing advanced medicinal techniques, supplementing Earth's forces with powerful weapons and armies and making a great investment by buying a few buildings in Oakland. Black Panther, the wealthiest comic character, is making the entire Marvel Comics world a richer place for everyone.