As the tapestry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to be woven, new stories add wrinkles to what we thought we knew, prompting more questions about the big picture.
With all of the revelations about Black Panther and its massive mining operation of Vibranium, we learn that the versatile material is a major secret in the MCU — the metal only exists in Wakanda, and they are careful not to let it get out into the world.
So where did Howard Stark get the metal to create Captain America's shield?
As a refresher, Steve Rogers first gets his trademark Vibranium shield after undergoing the Super Soldier program in Captain America: The First Avenger. Stark seems apprehensive to let him take it at first, stressing that it's a prototype made from the strongest metal on earth — and that it's all of the Vibranium they have.
They don't really mention it again until Vibranium comes up in Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which the titular villain steals the supply from the possession of Ulysses Klaue. And the arms dealer himself says he put himself at risk in stealing it from the secretive nation of Wakanda, and received a painful branding in the process.
How was Stark able to obtain the metal? Well, the answer is alluded to in a comic book tie-in to Captain America: The First Avenger, called "First Vengeance." The title shows Stark demonstrating the first iteration of the shield at a showcase in Los Angeles for military generals.
In it, he says: "Tonight's performance is provided by Vibranium, a metal my Star Industries researchers discovered in deepest Africa!"
Of course, this could be a case of an unreliable narrator, but taken at face value it seems like Stark's people found it near Wakanda, as they keep their borders closed from outsiders. This is plausible, given the fact that Vibranium came from a unique meteor that crashed in Wakanda centuries ago — some could've broken off as it entered the atmosphere and landed nearby.
Or, perhaps Stark has a secret history with the Wakandans that has yet to be fully explored. After all, how would he know the name "Vibranium" if it's such a big secret?
This is all just nitpicking, it's hard to say what Marvel Studios plan is in place for this unexplored bit of MCU history. It's largely unimportant to the overall narrative and is, at best, an easter egg. But given the continuity obsessions most comic book fans have, we can't help but wonder if it's something that will be told in the future, or is just another timeline error in the movie universe.
Black Panther is now playing in theaters.