So I just watched Logan, and I noticed that Caliban smelled the vibranium bullet. In Black Panther, Klaw similarly smells the vibranium relic in the museum.

I know these are two different movie continuities, but in general (comics, movies, wherever), do adamantium and/or vibranium have a unique odor? If so, what does it/do they smell like?

  • 11
    It smells exactly like iocane powder.
    – Alarion
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 2:13
  • 3
    Logan and Black Panther are from two different film continuities, and the metal in Logan is adamantium, not vibranium.
    – user33616
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 5:48
  • 1
    Adamantium is a Steel and Vibranium alloy.
    – MnIce
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 21:08
  • 1
    It does, I was wondering in the comics was there ever a time where a character says, "Hey, Vibranium kinda smells like x."
    – MnIce
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 18:42
  • 3
    It smell like McgGuffinium, with an aftersmell of Unobtainium.
    – dna
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


Smelling Metal

Let's dig out our knowledge about smell first:

Metals don't smell in themselves. They smell because of what sticks to them:

The compounds people smell are actually aldehydes and ketones, and not any iron-containing compounds.1

Our noses are just not made to smell metal ions in themselves. But Adamantium is an alloy, right? It is a hellhole of Steel, Vibranium, and Unobtanium2. But it still does not emit molecules that actually can be smelled as our nose is a chemical analyzation facility.

So, Klaw can't smell the metal itself because (pure & uncontaminated) metal does not smell to the human nose.

Smelling Vibranium specific organic smear on the surface

Chemistry, biology, and physics established that you can't smell something that doesn't emit some kind of molecule that can be analyzed by our nose. But we do know some things about Adamantium that can help in establishing how it might or might not smell:

  • it is rare3 and an alloy containing Vibranium.
  • Depending on the writer, Adamantium is poisonous3 4 5

Most alloys share effects with their mother compounds, especially when it comes to toxicity. As Adamantium is poisonous, so should be Vibranium, unless the Unobtanium2 is.

So, Vibranium is a somewhat poisonous metal, as is lead or arsenic? That indeed can be part of the solution! There are bacteria living in high arsenic surroundings6 while others ingest lead7. The chemical compounds metabolized by these bacteria might or might not contain the actual arsenic or lead, but the presence of these metals in their surroundings do make these chemical compounds very specific. And these compounds are something the olfactoric sense can analyze.

So I propose that Klaw does not smell the actual Vibranium, but the (residue) of some bacteria that is capable of (temporarily) living on it and creating a specific mix of aldehydes and ketones that does not exist anywhere else.

Klaw the Super Nose

There is one alternative though: That would be that Klaw's nose is not like any humans in a way that he could possibly smell the chemical composition of metals and alloys. Like, he might have a gas chromatograph for a nose. But that still would need metal ions in the air to smell, and we know that Vibranium isn't that kinda metal usually as it is hard to work with. Also, there is no indication in other sources I am aware of, that give Klaw this sort of super-smell.

Dramatic Effect

Or... Klaw didn't smell the metal at all. He realized what it was from the visuals and did a sniff just for the effects, claiming that he smelled it for the fun of it, as Broklynite pointed out.

1 - https://phys.org/news/2006-11-metal.html
2 - or whatever the current writer wants it to have in it
3 - http://time.com/4685052/logan-wolverine-adamantium/
4 - https://www.cbr.com/wolverine-adamantium-poisoning/
5 - https://www.reddit.com/r/AskScienceFiction/comments/656hux/xmen_how_can_adamantium_be_poisoning_wolverine_if/
6 - https://www.nature.com/news/arsenic-loving-bacterium-needs-phosphorus-after-all-1.10971
7 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29736824

  • Whilst this is indeed a good answer, it answers from real world perspectives. Do you have any evidence to tie this into the MCU? (Things are probably the same but y'know it's a world with giant purple snappers so there are differences).
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 10:22
  • @TheLethalCarrot addded alternatives, this answer can't do more than speculate
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 10:40
  • Unless this has been directly addressed in the movies or possibly the comics (and I’m betting that it hasn’t) I don’t see there being a much better answer than this.
    – Broklynite
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 11:12
  • @dna: I agree. Edited accordingly! Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 11:41

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