What is vibranium, the pivotal metal in “Black Panther”? Here’s the lowdown

If you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, you’ve still probably heard about vibranium. But, um, what is vibranium exactly?

For starters, vibranium isn’t an element you’d remember from your high school chemistry days learning the periodic table, though it certainly sounds like it could be, amirite? The material is, in fact, a metal found in Wakanda, where Black Panther is set. Vibranium fuels Wakandan life, it’s entirely fictional, and it’s pretty damn important within the MCU…

"Probably best known as the material that provides the unimaginable strength to Captain America’s shield and compels [Ulysses] Klaue’s maniacal drive to prove its existence and harness its power, vibranium is an incredible resource that has been a vital part of the Wakandan culture for generations," a press release describes. "The impenetrable metal can take multiple forms, whether threaded through the Black Panther suit, molded into Cap’s shield or as an energy source that powers the entire country, which sits on the endless supply that is mined as needed.

"With it comes a bevy of technology, knowledge, wealth and power. It far surpasses anything the modern world could ever imagine and establishes Wakanda as a technological, albeit reclusive, giant."

Okay, so that covers what vibranium is, but why is it so important in Black Panther, specifically?

Warning: Some spoilers here…

Ulysses (Andy Serkis), an illegal arms dealer whom we first met in Avengers: Age of Ultron, had stolen a bunch of vibranium back when T’Chaka, T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) father, ruled over Wakanda. After T’Chaka’s death, T’Challa/Black Panther becomes king, but things don’t exactly go swimmingly, because guess what? Ulysses is out for more vibranium, with Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) along for the villainous ride.

What exactly do they plan to do with the stolen vibranium? That’s definitely a question better left to the big screen. But thankfully, Black Panther is now in theaters.

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