Adamantium is a virtually indestructible man-made steel alloy which does not occur in nature and whose exact chemical composition is a United States government classified secret. Adamantium is not an element: its properties do not qualify it for any known space on the Periodic Table of Elements. Rather, adamantium is a series of three closely-related compounds of Iron created through a secret process discovered by the metallurgist, Dr. Myron MacLain.
MacLain began experimenting with the process that creates adamantium as a young scientist in the employ of the United States government in the early 1940s. By accident he created a special adamantium compound, which is more durable than any form of adamantium created since, and then through another accident, fused this adamantium sample he had created with a sample of an unknown metal catalyst and the metal which is now known to have been Wakandan Vibranium. The result was the large rounded specimen of alloy which is the most virtually indestructible substance known to man. This alloy specimen was given to Captain America to serve as his Shield. The exact chemical composition of Captain America's shield and the exact degree to which it is indestructible have never been determined, nor has MacLain or anyone else ever learned how to duplicate either the special adamantium compound used in the creation of the shield, which Is known as Proto-Adamantium, or the process which fused the Proto-Adamantium with the Wakandan Vibranium.
Over the following decades, MacLain experimented, attempting to duplicate the process that created adamantium. Finally, in recent years, although he realized that he could never again create Proto-Adamantium, he succeeded in developing the process by which the substance known as True Adamantium is created. True Adamantium is nearly as strong as the Proto-Adamantium used to create Captain America's shield, and is, for virtually all practical purposes, indestructible. The degree of indestructibility varies directly with the thickness of the adamantium. A direct blow from Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, conveyed with the thunder god's full strength, will only slightly dent a solid cylinder of true adamantium. A sufficient mass of adamantium could survive a direct hit from a nuclear weapon.
Adamantium is created through the mixing of certain chemical resins whose composition is a United States government secret. For eight minutes after the resins are mixed, the adamantium can be molded into a particular shape as long as it is kept at a temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. After this brief period, the process of creating adamantium is completed, and it is cured. The extremely stable molecular structure of the adamantium prevents it from being molded further, even if the temperature remains high enough to keep it in liquid form. Only a device called a “Molecular Rearranger” can alter the form of hardened adamantium.
The United States government has shared the secret of adamantium’s composition with certain of its allies, and the secret has also fallen into the hands of various criminals, such as the Constrictor, who has made special weaponry from adamantium. Wolverine possesses indestructible claws and skeleton of true adamantium that was bonded into his bones during Weapon X. The outer portion of the robotic body of Ultron is also composed entirely of true adamantium, although Ultron's inner mechanisms are not.
Adamantium is extraordinarily expensive to produce, Therefore, certain parties who wish to use adamantium on a large scale have resorted to utilizing a similar, but somewhat weaker compound similar to True Adamantium called Secondary Adamantium. Although Secondary Adamantium is still far stronger than even titanium steel, it can be destroyed by sufficiently great amounts of force. Blastaar's energy discharges and the vibratory force created by the Overkill Horn have both proved able to destroy Secondary Adamantium, although they would probably have little or no effect on True Adamantium. The sentient computer known as F.A.U.S.T. had a casing made of Secondary Adamantium, and the factory which housed it was also constructed to a large extent of Secondary Adamantium; both have been destroyed. The Red Skull and the Hate-Monger had a dome of Secondary Adamantium constructed to protect their Island fortress; the dome was destroyed by the Overkill Horn and by powerful incendiary bombs.
Objects made of Adamantium
Objects made of Adamantium in the Marvel Universe include:
Some S.P.I.N. Tech darts were tipped with adamantium needles.
The US Army used Adamantium bullets on the Hulk during his rampage of New York City.
Types of adamantium
Proto-Adamantium is the original Adamantium created by Dr. MacLain. This is the Adamantium present in Captain America's Shield. It has never been recreated.
True Adamantium is the attempt at recreation of Proto-Adamantium. It is nearly as strong/durable and is possible to be produced. it is impossible to break. It could withstand a nuclear bomb, though Thor with all his strength and Mjolnir has slightly dented a small cylinder of it. Being this strong, it is very rare and expensive to create/manipulate and is top secret in the US government, though it has shared it with some of their "allies".
This type is much more easier to work with, making it much more cost effective though at the expense of its strength. Someone with super-strength (say the Hulk) can break it or warp it. Also referred to as Adamantium Steel.
This was created by an experiment involving Wolverine. As a side effect of bonding true adamantium with his bones, and his rapid healing ability there was a molecular change which has adapted adamantium to the biology of normal bone. This Adamantium acts like a biological component, regenerating as his bones do.
In X-Men #191, when confronting Wolverine, one of the Children of the Vault named Serafina claims that adamantium has thirteen allotropes, all of which are "unstable, and short-lived, but virulently poisonous". She throws a small device that clamps onto his claws and makes them glow green, claiming that it is "adamantium nine". This causes Wolverine to become stricken, incoherent and collapse.
Russia wanted to create its own type of adamantium, and thus carbonadium was born. This form of adamantium is not as durable as true adamantium, but it is also flexible. For most purposes, however, carbonadium is still virtually indestructible. Omega Red is probably the best known to use this metal with his tentacles, which act as a conduit for his energy draining powers. For more information see Carbonadium. Like adamantium it is poisonous to the body without a healing factor. Omega Red's healing factor is not enough to keep the poison at bay, perhaps it is more potent than adamantium or Omega Red's healing factor is less effective than Wolverine's.
Breaking the Unbreakable
Though adamantium is said to be unbreakable and indestructible, there have been instances when objects made of the metal have been damaged. Images in Gallery.
In in X-Men #25 from the Fatal Attractions story arc, Magneto was able to remove the adamantium bonded to Wolverine by manipulating the metal and pulling it from his body through his skin. Magneto's powers allow him to reshape and manipulate indestructible metals including adamantium.
Wolverine: The End
In Wolverine: The End, a tale that told about an elderly Wolverine in the future, some of Logan's claws were broken. How they got in this condition was never specified.
Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk
In the miniseries Ultimate Wolverine Vs Hulk, it appears like Hulk breaks adamantium when he rips the mutant in half. Upon closer inspection and the application of a little logic, it's becomes apparent that though Hulk did rip Wolverine apart, he didn't actually break adamantium. For the clearest explanation as to why Wolverine's spine, but not the adamantium, could be broken, read the following.
"As far as Hulk breaking Wolverine in half... (quick biology and metallurgy lesson here) Despite propaganda saying otherwise, Wolverine's skeleton is not completely coated with adamantium, if it were he couldn't move. Adamantium porously coats each bone individually (and it would have to be porous because blood and oxygen is required to get inside the bone to the marrow for a person to live). Also there is a malleable disc between each bone (especially in vertebrae in the spine) which allows freedom of movement along with joints and ligaments(which wouldn't be coated in adamantium if Wolverine hopes to do things like walk, stand, move in the slightest...).Now what Hulk did was indeed rip Logan apart, but it's most likely that Wolverine's spine separated at it's weakest point (the discs between each vertebra) and everything tore apart quite easily from there. So no, Hulk more than likely didn't break adamantium at all in this instance. Not to say that he couldn't if suitably pissed."
Hulk can damage adamantium, or at least adamantium alloys (as seen below), but he did not do so in this instance.
In MARVEL TEAM-UP #18, Hulk fought the villain Blastaar in a factory built with an adamantium alloy (not true admantium). To defeat the enemy, he wrapped the metal around him, formed a ball, and threw him in the sea.
In Incredible Hulk #167, the Hulk shatters MODOK's armor, which is an alloy of adamantium (but not true adamantium).
This rare substance also known as Antarctic vibranium can produce vibrations of a specific wave length that can liquefy all metal including adamantium.
Dogs of War
In Hulk: Future Imperfect #1, Maestro explains that he has created mechanical dogs (Dogs o' War) with jaws capable of crushing adamantium in 7.3 seconds. That feat is never depicted on-panel. Hulk destroys the robot canine.
Thor vs Hulk vs Statue
In a fight with the Hulk, Thor let loose and hit him with enough power to send him flying into a statue supposedly made of pure adamantium. The base of the statue that Hulk slammed into was cracked and when the Hulk got to his feet and picked up the statue, pieces of it fell off where he grabbed it.
Captain America's Shield
Captain America's shield, which is an adamantium-vibranium alloy, has been broken five times in the history of comics. The Molecule Man once destroyed the shield (along with Mjolnir, IronMan's armor, and the Silver Surfer's board) by unmaking them on the molecular level. Klaw and Dr. Doom (both amped by the power of The Beyonder) damaged the shield on separate occasions. Thanos, wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, effortlessly shattered the shield with a backhand. Finally, King Thor destroyed the shield with eye beams in an alternate universe.
Guardians of the Galaxy
On the 31st century Earth that the Guardians of the Galaxy hail from there are several metals that are capable of piercing adamantium. The Punishers of that era shot Vance Astro with a bullet made of Dragonite that punctured his adamantium body mesh. Dragonite is said to be invented by the 26th century.
In Other Media
In X-2: X-Men United, William Stryker's lab is shown to have an adamantium infusion chamber where both Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike were created. During the climactic battle, Wolverine defeats Deathstrike by pumping her full of liquid adamantium, which then hardens and causes her to sink into a vat of water.