Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for What If…? Season 2 episode 2


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Summary

  • The mystery of Captain America’s shield being made of Vibranium has finally been solved in the animated series What If…?
  • This explanation avoids potential plot holes and inconsistencies in the original story, such as Wakanda’s high level of security and the lack of retrieval of the lost Vibranium.
  • The revelation adds depth to Wakanda’s heroism and their willingness to help the world with global threats, making their actions feel less self-serving. It cleverly fills in the gap in the Marvel timeline.

12 years after Captain America: The First Avenger introduced Chris Evans’ Captain America, the MCU has finally officially answered its last glaring question. There have been several mysteries around Steve Rogers, but most focus on Avengers: Endgame’s ending and the fallout of Cap’s return to the past. Beyond that, questions of his longevity, the limit of his powers, and whether he was a virgin have all mostly been answered. Whether we asked or not.

Despite how long Captain America was active in the MCU, one First Avenger detail was never answered in a satisfying way. The non-canon First Avenger prequel comic sees Howard claim he sent explorers to “deepest Africa” and they returned with the precious metal. Meanwhile, Chadwick Boseman told EW that he believed the Vibranium was taken by force and not with consent. Age Of Ultron establishes that the metal did come from Wakanda, but no official backstory was ever offered. Now, the mystery has been solved.

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What If Confirms Howard Stark Didn’t Steal Cap’s Vibranium

In What If…? season 2 episode 2, a fledgling Avengers team is assembled by Howard Stark and Peggy Carter when a young Peter Quill returns to Earth seemingly waging war at his father’s request. The episode asks what would have happened if Star-Lord was actually delivered to Ego (Kurt Russell) rather than Yondu raising him himself, leading to a global threat that forms the Avengers.

The team Stark and Carter assemble includes Hank Pym, Mar-Vell, Goliath, The Winter Soldier, Thor, and King T’Chaka.

During an early exchange, T’Chaka (Antandwa Kani) reveals that the Americans and Wakanda had previously worked together. More crucially, he says that his father King T’Chanda had gifted Howard Stark some Vibranium to help the war effort in the 1940s. In other words, Captain America’s shield was made from Vibranium the secretive African nation freely gave to the Americans.

Howard Stark: Your Highness, it’s a pleasure. Your father was a great ally to us during the war.

King T’Chaka: Yes, I understand he even donated some Vibranium to your efforts.

Howard Stark: Yeah, we made a shield out of it. We lost it in the Arctic…

While this is a Multiverse project, the divergence of this branched universe happened in the early ’80s when Yondu took Peter Quill to Ego. That means King T’Chanda’s gift of Vibranium was canon to the main MCU timeline, before the branch split off.

Marvel's What if...? Season 2 Poster

What If…?

What If… ? is an animated anthology series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which features fan-favorite characters, including Peggy Carter, T’Challa, Doctor Strange, Killmonger, Thor, and more. The new series, directed by Bryan Andrews with AC Bradley as head writer, features signature MCU action with a curious twist. The show sees Uatu the Watcher, an omnipotent being that observes the events of multiple universes from afar as they unfold, unable to interfere. However, things shift when an entity peers beyond the veil, jeopardizing the multiverse. 

Cast
Samuel L. Jackson , Stanley Tucci , Michael Douglas , Sean Gunn , Mark Ruffalo , Karen Gillan , Tom Hiddleston , Jeffrey Wright , Michael B. Jordan , Toby Jones , Sebastian Stan , Paul Rudd , David Dastmalchian , Natalie Portman , Josh Brolin , Dominic Cooper , Jeff Goldblum , Hayley Atwell , Djimon Hounsou , Chadwick Boseman , Taika Waititi , Chris Hemsworth , Neil McDonaugh , Jeremy Renner , Michael Rooker

Seasons
2

Cap’s Vibranium Reveal Avoids A Major Plot-Hole

Howard Stark’s claim that he sent explorers to Africa and they returned with Vibranium isn’t necessarily a plot hole. The inventor could have been covering for T’Chaka to preserve Wakanda’s hidden status. But there were some concerns from the original story of how Vibranium was first brought to the US that the new official explanation avoids.

Firstly, Wakanda being so freely invaded by a group of explorers (even ones with Stark’s resources) never made sense after Black Panther revealed the extent of their security measures. That suggested that Stark’s excuse was a lie, casting some doubt over his morality that didn’t quite sit with the idea of him as a bad father but not quite an evil man.

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And then there’s the question of Wakanda never retrieving the lost Vibranium. As established by the first synopsis for the upcoming Eyes Of Wakanda series, the nation had an established core of warriors whose mission was to retrieve lost Vibranium artefacts. Given the fact that Stark publicly announced Cap’s shield in the comic, and Rogers was so visible in public, the oversight would have looked like incompetence.

Instead, What If…? Cleverly filling in the gap in the Marvel timeline to reveal T’Chanda’s gift to Stark addresses all previous concerns. On top of that, the revelation that Wakanda did help the world with global threats makes their heroism feel less like self-serving ignorance that would have led to threats eventually coming to their door. All-in-all, a very smart retcon.

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