The Marvel Universe features some of the most wonderous substances in popular culture. From the mighty uru metal that forged Thor’s Mjolnir, to the vibranium weaved into Black Panther’s costume, there is no shortage of durable materials. Adamantium is perhaps the most hard-wearing substance of all. Known for being coated to the skeleton and claws of Wolverine, Adamantium has a much deeper history connected to the dawn of the Marvel Universe.
Forged from myth
The substance that would become Adamantium was created from a Greek legend. According to myth, Hercules wielded an enchanted golden mace that was made from a metal called Adamantine. Called the Metal of the Gods, Adamantine had mystical properties that added to the strength of the Olympians.
Inspired by the myth, Dr Myron MacLain set out to create an indestructible alloy that would help the Americans during World War II. While working with steel, vibranium and an unknown metal, MacLain fell asleep at his desk. When he awoke the metals had mysteriously fused together.
The sample became known as Proto-Adamantium and MacLain used it to create Captain America’s shield. MacLain could never duplicate the process because he didn’t know the exact ingredients. His experimentation gave rise to other variations called True Adamantium, Secondary Adamantium and Adamantium Beta.
During the Adamantium-making process, the components of the metal are kept in separate batches, usually in blocks of resin. The alloy is made by melting the blocks and mixing the components while the resin evaporates. Then, adamantium needs to be cast within eight minutes. But to truly understand the metal, it’s worth looking into the different grades:
This is the original Adamantium that Dr MacLain created and the only existing version of it is in Captain America’s shield. It has never been recreated and it is the most indestructible object in all of creation.
True Adamantium is a mixture of vibranium and other substances and while it’s extremely durable, it isn’t as strong as Proto-Adamantium. Expensive and rare, this variation can only be reproduced with considerable effort and money. Wolverine’s bones and claws are coated with True Adamantium.
The only forces that have been able to damage True Adamantium are beings with godlike or magnetic powers. For example, Magneto managed to manipulate the molecular structure of the metal on Wolverine’s bones and rip it out of him.
Secondary Adamantium is much more cost-effective than other types and less durable. It was created as an alternate supply for government bodies. Secondary Adamantium is stronger than titanium, but it can be broken by people with superhuman strength such as Thor or The Hulk.
This type of Adamantium is a by-product of the process that bonded True Adamantium to Wolverine. His healing factor altered the molecular structure of the metal, so it didn’t hinder the biological processes of bone. Adamantium Beta functions exactly like True Adamantium but is unique to Wolverine.
Developed by the USSR to be a more cost-effective version of True Adamantium, Carbonadium is more malleable than other grades. Highly unstable and radioactive, Carbonadium has a negative effect on people with healing factors.
The villainous Omega Red has Carbonadium coils that he’s used to slow down Wolverine’s healing abilities. The only known way of reproducing the metal is to use the Carbonadium Synthesiser, a device that can liquify the alloy and mold it into different shapes.