Going into Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the elephant in the room was always going to be the illness that killed King T’Challa. Even though it was brought up multiple times, specifically by Shuri, it was never mentioned exactly what the disease was and how, of all things, it took out the King and Black Panther of the most powerful nation in the world. Now, a Captain Marvel and vibranium-related theory just might point to the answer.
As we learn from Wakanda Forever, there are specific machines that can detect vibranium, which means there must also be machines to then mine that vibranium, right? You don’t just pick it up and walk away. Enter: “vibranium sickness.”
Vibranium sickness is a fatal illness that is caused by living in proximity to the toxic by-products that occur from mining vibranium. According to Marvel’s wiki fandom page, “Aside from the mutagenic effect that the radiation from unprocessed ore can have on nearby lifeforms, some mining techniques create toxic by-products that can seep into local groundwater and poison those who drink it.”
But surely Wakanda would have the foresight to purify their water or at least be ahead of the curve so as not to let their people — let alone their king — drink it if it’s toxic, right? Plus, vibranium sickness is considered an “archaic miners’ disease because advancements in mining technique had wiped it out a century ago.” So, that can’t possibly be the answer, right? Enter: Captain Marvel.
As we know, Captain Marvel has been busy doing whatever it is she’s been doing in space. The details on her whereabouts have been kept tight-lipped over the last several MCU movies, but what we do know, according to the comics, is that the thought-to-be-extinct vibranium sickness came up during Carol Danvers’ adventures on Torfa, a planet near the border of the Kree Empire and the epicenter of the Kree-Skull War.
It’s possible that she brought the illness back to Earth. After all, she keeps popping up in various installments such as the post-credit scene of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Disney Plus’ Ms. Marvel, not to mention her upcoming movie The Marvels.
The theory isn’t entirely implausible, especially given that the U.S. government is hell-bent on getting its hands on vibranium, so its storyline isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The fictional metallic ore might not only explain King T’Challa’s death but also explain how and why the vigilante group known as the Thunderbolts were created, not to mention give context to what just might become an all-out vibranium war story looming on the horizon.