Could Wakanda’s vibranium be real? The CIA might know something

While 'Black Panther' fans waited to see how the film would do at the Oscars, the CIA had a little fun with those loyal to the hyper-advanced African nation

Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright in Black Panther thegrio.com

While the Academy Awards aired on Sunday, the Central Intelligence Agency was conducting a survey on Twitter on whether people believed that vibranium, the isotope that was the centerpiece of the movie, Black Panther, was real.

Just over half of the respondents understood that vibranium was a fictional material, but another 45 percent thought that well, maybe the technology wasn’t so far fetched.

Black Panther became the first superhero movie to get nominated for a best picture Oscar. Although it didn’t win in that category, it did score three wins in other categories including Best Costume Design for costume designer Ruth Carter; Best Production Design for production designer Hannah Beachler; and Best Original Score for composer Ludwig Goransson.

But the film was also apparently the only Academy Award nominee to pique the interest of the CIA across social media. So the agency, using the hashtag #ReelvsRealCIA, the agency did a tweet series on the blockbuster, discussing with its 2.54 million followers about vibranium, which powered all of the technology in the advanced fictional country of Wakanda, as well as other high tech featured in the movie.

The CIA noted in a follow-up tweet that the super-powered metal would be “great for spies” – but “too bad vibranium isn’t real.”

However, according to a CIA scientist, there are metals close to vibranium’s power. Tungsten carbide is used to compress materials; at the same time it stores some of that compressive energy and can release it later, according to its #ReelvsRealCIA series post on CIA.gov.

The post, which quotes a scientist the CIA calls “Rebecca,” as she explains that piezoelectric materials transform vibrations into electricity, similar to the effect of kids’ shoes that flash when they run. Rebecca said this is “a simpler form of the way Black Panther’s suit stores kinetic impacts and then releases them as energy blasts,” according to the site.

But in the series, the agency also talked about other fictional technology in the movie including Kimoyo Beads, used by King T’Challa to communicate with others; his digitized nanotech habit, which automatically displayed with the touch of a button; holographic cars, designed and uploaded by his sister Shuri; and Besotho blankets, used by Wakandan soldiers (the CIA’s tweet mistakenly called them “Lesotho” blankets).

The CIA also shot down the feasibility of the blankets, saying this is fictional technology too, but noted it would be “the envy of any intel service” if it were real.

In total, the CIA tweeted 13 times about Black Panther, although some followers made fun of the posts or appeared confused.

“I don’t know how to feel about the CIA being this bored,” one person wrote, according to CBS News.

Another person asked: “Are you going to tweet about Santa Clause next?!! Can we just enjoy the magic of the movies?”

Added another: “I don’t see how this is a matter of national security. Who’s on overwatch tonight?”