Vibranium first appeared in Daredevil #13 (February 1966), which was written by Stan Lee and illustrated by John Romita. Here, vibranium was seen to be an unusual metallic element with decidedly strange properties. Since that point in Marvel continuity, it has been established that there are a few variations of this element which can be found in isolated regions all around the world. The variation first introduced in Daredevil #13 eventually became known as Anti-Metal. This variation's unique attribute is that it can cut through any known metal. In the Marvel Universe, Anti-Metal can traditionally be found only in Antarctica. Later in Fantastic Four #53 (August 1966), by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, a new variation of vibranium was introduced in the isolated nation of Wakanda. This variation had the unique attribute of being able to absorb sound. This is the variation which is most often identified in continuity as simply "vibranium".
In the Marvel Universe, Vibranium was first deposited on Earth by a meteorite 10,000 years ago. The first documented discovery of Vibranium was during a human expedition to Antarctica. This particular isotope of Vibranium was dubbed "Anti-Metal" due to its property of dissolving other metals.
A different variety of Vibranium found in Wakanda absorbs sound waves and other vibrations, including kinetic energy. Absorbing sound waves, vibrations, and kinetic energy makes this metal stronger. It was discovered by the Wakandan king T'Chaka, father of the Black Panther T'Challa. To protect this resource, he concealed his country from the outside world. T'Chaka funded his country's education by occasionally selling off minuscule quantities of the metal. As a result, Wakanda is one of the world's most technologically advanced nations.
During the early 1940s, a small amount of Wakandan Vibranium came into the possession of the scientist Myron MacLain. He tried to combine Vibranium with iron to form a new tank armor, but was unable to fuse the elements. One morning, he found that the two materials had bonded on their own in an unknown manner. The ultra-resilient alloy was used to create Captain America's shield. MacLain worked for decades (without success) to duplicate the accident. However, during an experiment in the 1960s, he developed the virtually indestructible metal adamantium.[volume & issue needed]
When T'Challa became king of Wakanda, he strove to end his country's isolation from the rest of the world. Making the existence of Vibranium known to the outside world around the mid-1980s, he sold small quantities of it to foreigners whom he believed would not use it to harmful ends. T'Challa used the profits to enrich and modernize his nation.
Over the years, many have tried to obtain or affect the mound of Vibranium at Wakanda, but for the most part Wakanda has kept it safe, and become quite powerful in the process.
When Wakanda was politically taken over by the xenophobic Desturi, they granted Doctor Doom access to the country's Vibranium vaults. Fearing Doom would use it to amplify his mystical energies, T'Challa activated a failsafe he had developed that rendered all processed Vibranium inert.
Wakandan Vibranium is the most common variety, and is often referred to simply as "vibranium". It is a rare substance native only to the fictional small African nation of Wakanda.
The Wakandan isotope possesses the ability to absorb all vibrations in the vicinity as well as kinetic energy directed at it. The energy absorbed is stored within the bonds between the molecules that make up the substance. As a result, the more energy vibranium absorbs the tougher it becomes. There are limits to the capacity of the energy that can be stored, and although the exact limitations are not yet known, there have been a few examples. One such instance was when the oil conglomerate Roxxon discovered that a small island in the South Atlantic had a foundation composed of vibranium. Due to this, Roxxon found it necessary to destroy the island and so blew it up with bombs. Unable to absorb the force of the explosions, the vibranium was destroyed, but it did succeed in entirely absorbing the sound made by the explosion, preventing damage to the surrounding area.[volume & issue needed]
This variety of vibranium is a powerful mutagen. Vibranium exposure led to the mutation of many Wakandan natives.[volume & issue needed] Its radiation has also permeated much of Wakanda's flora and fauna, including the Heart-Shaped Herb eaten by members of the Black Panther Cult and the flesh of the White Gorilla eaten by the members of the White Gorilla Cult. Both give superhuman abilities to whoever eats them.[volume & issue needed]
It is also believed to dramatically enhance mystical energies.
Better known as Anti-Metal, this isotope is native to the Savage Land. This variation produces vibrations of a specific wavelength that break down the molecular bonds in other metals, causing them to liquefy. If huge quantities of anti-metal are gathered together, the vibrations increase exponentially.[volume & issue needed] Anti-Metal is able to become an artificial and unstable form of the Wakandan variety of vibranium through certain particle bombardments on it.[volume & issue needed]
When a small sub-molecular imperfection was introduced into Captain America's shield, each impact over the years spread to neighboring molecules. It grew until the molecular bonds of the shield were completely broken down, shattering the shield. The shattering effect continued to spread to other vibranium, unconnected to the shield. This created a vibranium "cancer", a shock wave propagating throughout the world. It violently detonated any vibranium it found, from mineral deposits to components of ships or equipment. The shock wave was traveling to the "Great Vibranium Mound" in Wakanda, where the resulting explosion could destroy the world. With the unwitting aid of the villain Klaw, Captain America was able to stop the cancer and restore his shield.[volume & issue needed]
Due to the nature of vibranium it is found in use of many in the Marvel Universe including: (Note: Wakandan variety vibranium is referred to as vibranium and Antarctic variety vibranium is referred to as Anti-Metal or Antarctic Vibranium)
It is most known for being used in the construction of Captain America's Shield, the vibranium was of an ultra-resilient vibranium-iron alloy created by Dr. Myron MacLain. The formula has never been reproduced despite numerous attempts.
After Steve Rogers resigned as Captain America, the Black Panther sent him a new, pure vibranium shield. When Rogers resumed his role as Captain America, the vibranium shield was given to U.S. Agent.
As U.S. Agent, John Walker has also used two other vibranium shields: the "eagle shield" he used as a member of the Jury, and the "star shield" he used as a member of the New Invaders.
The Black Panther uses vibranium in a micro weave mesh in his uniform that robs incoming objects of their momentum. He also cannot be stabbed, although the costume and the Black Panther can be cut if the attacker slashes along the uniform's grain. Beyond that he uses vibranium in the soles of his boots that allows him to survive a fall of several stories and, if given enough momentum, the Panther can also scale walls or skim across water. The field can be also used offensively to shatter or weaken objects, such as kicking something with the boots. He also used the other variety Anti-Metal, in retractable claws.
By 1915, human expeditions discovered Anti-Metal in Antarctica.
The story "Flags of Our Fathers", which happens during World War II, tells how Black Panther, Captain America, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos fight the Nazis who want to steal vibranium from the Wakandans.
Skrulls enslaved Savage Land natives to mine Anti-Metal.
Parnival Plunder, the villainous brother of Ka-Zar, planned to use vibranium to make weapons with which to take over the world.
Diablo became the ruler of Tierra del Maiz, a South American country for its large deposits of vibranium. While the United Nations had decided not to get involved in the internal affairs of the country, Canada thought differently and sent Alpha Flight to intervene.
When Dr. Doom gained access to Wakanda's stores of vibranium, T'Challa activated a fail-safe that rendered all processed vibranium inert.
In an episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends entitled "The X-Men Adventure" the villain Cyberiad captures the X-Men in their own Danger Room with traps designed to utilize their greatest weaknesses. When Cyberiad traps the newest X-Man Kitty Pryde, he locks her in a room made of vibranium, leaving her helpless. Pryde's mutant power is the ability to "phase" or walk through solid matter, but the properties of the "vibranium room" seemed to prevent her from using her powers to escape. She was eventually rescued and she later helped defeat Cyberiad.
In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Well", the Bus's interrogation room is stated to have walls lined with a vibranium alloy. In the episodes "Love in the Time of HYDRA", "One Door Closes" and "Afterlife", Bruce Banner made a cabin for S.H.I.E.L.D. called Retreat which is made out of Vibranium for order to temporarily house gifted individuals. It was also revealed in "One Door Closes" that Fury's Toolbox which was given to Phil Coulson is also made out of vibranium.
In the Marvel Anime series "Blade", it is mentioned that Blade's katana is composed of a silver-vibranium alloy.
In the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Iron Vulture", Harry takes Peter Parker and Miles Morales to a safe room away from Iron Vulture and he says the room is made of Vibranium.
In Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, vibranium is shown as a metal used by the Chitauri (the Ultimate Universe's versions of the Skrulls). It is used primarily in their spacecraft hulls and personal armor. Later, one of their ships is salvaged by S.H.I.E.L.D. and used to construct Captain America's shield (which also was constructed with adamantium though in the comics in the Ultimate Universe, his shield is only composed of adamantium) and other items such as vibranium-tipped bullets and knives. In the movie, S.H.I.E.L.D. developed a satellite dubbed Shield 1 that was capable of locating vibranium on Earth. This was done in an effort to find the Chitauri and though it worked, the Chitauri soon destroyed it after its introduction in the movie. It should also be noted that according to the movie the only thing S.H.I.E.L.D. knew capable of penetrating vibranium was a nuclear blast or vibranium itself.
In Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther, vibranium serves as a bigger plot device than the previous movie as the reason for the Chitauri invasion on Wakanda is Wakanda's massive underground supply of vibranium. In the movie, vibranium is shown as a substantial power source, as condensed vibranium cubes serve as the power source for the Chitauri spaceships. Vibranium also is seen as the principal component of many weapons used in Wakanda, which made them quite powerful though not powerful enough to withstand the Chitauri's attack. Vibranium is also shown to be weakened when exposed to gamma radiation in the movie, thus making it destructible by the Hulk because he releases a blast of it whenever he attacks.
In the computer game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 the nanite artificial intelligence known as "the Fold" attempts to harvest vibranium in Wakanda in order to construct communication towers around the world, spreading its control signal globally. While the heroes of the game manage to thwart the invasion, they are too late to prevent the construction of enough towers to make the Fold a worldwide threat.
In 2016, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies developed a real-world smart composite material it named Vibranium. The lightweight carbon fiber material for the Hyperloop pods is reported to provide the passengers with twice the protection should anything damage the exterior. The company says that its Vibranium is eight times stronger than aluminum and 10 times stronger than steel alternatives. The smart material can transmit critical information regarding temperature, stability, integrity and more, wirelessly and virtually instantly.