Vibranium (Xhosa: Isipho) is a nearly indestructible element that crash landed as a meteorite from outer space millennia ago into the African region that would become Wakanda. The element severely impacted the environment of Wakanda, enriching the soil and plant life. It was mined into malleable metal and was used extensively by Wakandans in their everyday lives, making Wakanda the most technologically advanced country on Earth. Wakanda became an isolationist nation, posing as a third world country, in order to keep the existence of vibranium a secret, although it was discovered by researchers sometime during the 1940s. Believing the small amount he had obtained to be the only source in existence, Howard Stark used the entire supply to forge a shield, which he later presented in 1943 to Captain America.
In 1992, Ulysses Klaue successfully stole billions of dollars worth of vibranium from Wakanda with the help of the Wakandan prince N'Jobu, which he sold until 2015, when his remaining cache was purchased by the homicidal A.I. known as Ultron. Ultron used the vibranium to create several bodies for his consciousness as well as to combine it with Chitauri technology in an attempt to eradicate humanity. Ultron also used the vibranium in conjunction with Helen Cho's Regeneration Cradle to create a synthetic vibranium body; however, it was stolen by the Avengers, who uploaded the remnants of Tony Stark's personal A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. into the body, giving birth to the android known as Vision.
In 2016, Erik Killmonger overthrew the new king of Wakanda T'Challa. He planned to arm the oppressed groups in every nation with advanced vibranium weapons to take down the governments and start the Wakandan Empire. T'Challa, armed with his vibranium Panther Habit, killed Killmonger and stopped his plan. However, Killmonger was able to change T’Challa’s view on how Wakanda was to be ruled, and decided to reveal its presence to the rest of the world.
2.5 million years ago, a meteorite containing vibranium crashed into the African region that would be known as Wakanda. In order to keep vibranium's (which the Wakandans called "Isipho") power secret, Wakanda posed as a third world country, isolating themselves from the rest of the world, keeping the innovations the metal made possible to themselves.
Captain America's Shield
After successfully proving himself as a soldier in the battlefield, Steve Rogers was taken to a U.S. Army facility. He entered Howard Stark's workshop where Stark presented him with different types of shields to adopt as his main weapon as Captain America. Rogers was intrigued by a silver, circular shield lying on a shelf. Stark informed him that its unique vibranium composition makes it lighter and stronger than steel, and nearly indestructible. He also added that the shield had been forged out of their entire vibranium stockpile.
N'Jobu decided to initiate a global revolution, for people of African descent around the world were being oppressed. To arm his cause, he revealed his country's existence to black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue and helped him infiltrate Wakanda in order to steal a cache of vibranium resulting in the deaths of several Wakandan citizens.
T'Chaka learned about his brother's treachery from his confidant Zuri, who previously disguised himself as an American citizen. T'Chaka made his way to the United States of America and confronted his brother at his apartment in Oakland. N'Jobu then attempted to shoot him, however, T'Chaka reacted quickly, and impaled N'Jobu with the claws on his Panther Habit, killing N'Jobu. While T'Chaka, Zuri and the Dora Milaje fled back to Wakanda, N'Jobu's son Erik Stevens would find his father's body. Thanks to the vibranium he stole, Klaue became the largest supplier of vibranium on the market.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury used pure vibranium to make the Toolbox, a compact digital storage device that holds a collected database of classified S.H.I.E.L.D. files, and additional information, privy to any acting Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. He gave this Toolbox to Phil Coulson after making him the new director, telling him that the toolbox would help Coulson rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D.
In order to find the Toolbox, Alphonso Mackenzie placed a scanner programmed to find anything with vibranium in the engine of little Lola. With the information from the scanner, Bobbi Morse was able to locate and take the Toolbox to Robert Gonzales.
Since Phil Coulson was unwilling to open the Toolbox for Gonzales, the device was given to Anne Weaver to crack. Unable to crack it herself, she asked Leo Fitz to help her. During his research on the Toolbox, he was unable to find any ports or external power sources in the pure vibranium box. He also found that there were pores in the vibranium which were constantly shifting.
In their last hope to open the vibranium box, S.H.I.E.L.D. flew in a state-of-the-art, next-gen fiber laser from the Iliad to the Playground to cut through the vibranium and finally figure out the truth.
During an attempt to create a more powerful body, Ultron manipulated Doctor Helen Cho to use the Regeneration Cradle for the creation of his new body. Under the control of the Scepter, she used the machine to create the body, combining artificial organic tissue with vibranium that Ultron had purchased from Ulysses Klaue. When the Avengers arrived with the intent to stop him, Ultron was forced to flee before he could finish uploading his mind into the body.
During a chase through the streets of Seoul, the Regeneration Cradle was juggled around until it was recovered by the Avengers and taken to Avengers Tower in New York City. Upon examination, Tony Stark believed that the idea of repurposing the body rather than destroying it like the majority of the team desired would be a more beneficial choice. He convinced a reluctant Bruce Banner to help him achieve this, and together, the two uploaded the remnants of the J.A.R.V.I.S. A.I. into the body, thus creating Vision.
With Ultron's plans of creating a perfect form being thwarted, he decided on a compromise in which he used parts of the remaining vibranium to create a more durable robotic body while using the rest of the vibranium to strengthen the core structure of his device. To terrify Natasha Romanoff, Ultron ripped apart his current body and showed her his new upgraded form.
Ultron made plans for global extinction since his creation, which consisted of a combination of vibranium and Chitauri technology to create an extinction-level event. To that end, he sought out Ulysses Klaue, who had smuggled large amounts of the metal from Wakanda. Either buying or stealing a large amount of it, Ultron used the metal to start building a new, synthetic body for himself, with the assistance of Helen Cho's Regeneration Cradle. This body would later become Vision. Though he lost the body to the Avengers, Ultron had enough vibranium left over after creating his doomsday device to build a completely new body for himself. Ultron then began his doomsday plan, using his vibranium detonator to raise the city of Novi Grad into the sky. However, despite him and his Ultron Sentries' best efforts, they were defeated by the Avengers. However, a lone Ultron Sentry was able to activate the device, causing the city to pummel to the ground below. Despite this, the entire land structure was destroyed by Iron Man and Thor.
As the king and protector of Wakanda, the ruler is crowned with a ceremonial regalia in the form of a Vibranium laced-panther habit. The vibranium in the suit allowed it to be at least somewhat bulletproof and allow the user to be seemingly unfazed when being struck by bullets. The suit has fingernails made of vibranium which can be retracted. The fingernails are shown to be able to cut through almost anything, and was able to create a notable scratch on Captain America's Shield. T'Chaka, the King of Wakanda took the role as the Black Panther in his youth until he became too old. His son T'Challa would later take over his father's mantle as the protector of Wakanda in his place.
In 2016, Ulysses Klaue| along with Erik Killmonger, Linda, and Limbani, were able to rob the Museum of Great Britain, where they were able to steal a vibranium axe, which Klaue sought to sell to a buyer in South Korea.
Free Trade in Vibranium
Vibranium Arm Cannon
A Wakandan vibranium mining tool capable of powerful sonic blasts was acquired by Ulysses Klaue and incorporated into his prosthetic arm. He used it to steal a Wakandan artifact with Erik Killmonger and later fought T'Challa with it until it was torn off his body. This arm contained a tracking device which was later used by Killmonger to find Klaue and break him out of CIA custody.
Second Vibranium Shield
In 2023, an elderly Steve Rogers gave Sam Wilson a vibranium shield from an alternate timeline. In 2024, Wilson donated the shield to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum feeling he was not worthy of taking up the mantle. The U.S. government then gave the shield to John Walker, who they named the new Captain America. However, after a heated fight between him, Walker, and Bucky Barnes, Wilson regained the shield and decided to take up the mantle of Captain America.
Captain America's Vibranium Suit
After helping Sam Wilson regain the shield back, Bucky Barnes asked Dora Milaje commander Ayo to have the Wakandans make a new suit for Wilson. To prepare for the Flag Smashers attack on the GRC headquarters in New York City, Wilson suited himself with the vibranium suit and flew off to fight them.
Captain America vs. Captain America
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Peggy Carter's Shield
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Used by Star-Lord
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In a pure mass, vibranium forms a solid metal that is stronger than steel, but only a third of the weight, as well as being completely vibration absorbent. This makes the material nearly indestructible, as any attempt to physically damage the material will be negated on a molecular level as mechanical/kinetic energy will be absorbed instead of breaking any bonds in its molecular matrix. In general, this means that vibranium can absorb a wide variety of physical impacts, including high-caliber bullets, without taking any damage or weakening.
Vibranium also deflects kinetic energy. Captain America's vibranium shield for example, was able to deflect high-caliber bullets, Iron Man's repulsor beams (by having them ricochet into enemy Chitauri), and even an impact from Mjølnir itself (in the form of a massive shock-wave that sent Thor flying back). Captain America's shield has also been known to be thrown at high velocities without being affected by wind resistance and is able to ricochet off of multiple surfaces, exemplifying vibranium's tensile strength and rigidity.
Vibranium has magnetic properties, as Bobbi Morse used her battle staves to procure the Toolbox from its container with magnetism and Captain America's Shield could return to his arm by using a magnetic device.
According to Ulysses Klaue, Vibranium is not just a metal, as the Wakandans sew it into their clothes and they used it to power their city, their technology, and their weapons.
The nearly-indestructible metal is also sonoluminescent; energy cannot be destroyed and only converted into another form, such as when Thor struck Captain America's shield with his hammer, it created soundwaves in the hammer, while the shield converted the blow into blue, ultraviolet light.
Despite its near-indestructible nature, vibranium's durability ultimately has its limits. The energy projected by the Infinity Stone in Vision's forehead combined with Iron Man's repulsors and a lightning bolt from Mjølnir was able to slowly melt away Ultron's vibranium outer shell, while Vision's vibranium body was later disintegrated by Scarlet Witch's full-power energy bolt. Scarlet Witch was also able to break through the metal with her telekinesis. It is also shown that Corvus Glaive's glaive could easily pierce through Vision’s vibranium body, thus preventing him from phasing. Thanos' Double-Edged Sword was able to shatter Captain America's Shield made out of vibranium with several hits. It is also revealed that vibranium is vulnerable and rendered defunct by sonic-based equipment such as Ulysses Klaue's Prosthetic Arm and the sonic stabilizers that are built on tracks of the Wakandan Maglev Train within the Great Mound. Vibranium is also highly unstable when transported at high speed. Additionally, sufficiently high levels of strength can overcome through its durability, as the immensely strong Thanos was able to break Vision's forehead to acquire the Mind Stone and shatter Captain America's Shield.
- In the Iron Man 2 novelization, the element created by Tony Stark to replace Palladium in the Arc Reactor was called vibranium. However, the subsequent release of Captain America: The First Avenger retconned that information.
- The Vibranium shown prior to Black Panther is what the material looks like in its final stage of processing. On exploring the stages of the metal, Black Panther production designer Hannah Beachler says "we've come up with this sort of blue, kind of glowing rock. We went around a lot about like, what is vibranium, because we see it in Captain America's shield and it’s very much a metal, so we have different stages of vibranium. We’re going to see it a lot in its raw form, not the alloyed form which is sort of the stainless look."
- Beachler attributed T'Challa’s wealth–which is greater than that of Batman, in her words–to Vibranium: "T’Challa is the wealthiest man ... and a lot of it is because of the vibranium and their knowledge and being able to handle vibranium."
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Black Panther
- Gift in Xhosa
- The Art of Black Panther
- Captain America: First Vengeance
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 1.08: The Well
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 1.22: Beginning of the End
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 2.11: Aftershocks
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 2.15: One Door Closes
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 2.18: The Frenemy of My Enemy
- Captain America: Civil War
- Avengers: Infinity War
- The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: 1.05: Truth
- WandaVision: 1.08: Previously On
- The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: 1.06: One World, One People
- Avengers: Endgame
- 90 Things to Know about the MCU's Game-Changing Movie