Captain America's shield
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|Captain America's shield|
|First appearance||Original shield:|
Captain America Comics #1
Captain America Comics #2
|Created by||Joe Simon and Jack Kirby|
|In story information|
|Type||Large Rotella / Frisbee (Vibranium-Steel alloy)|
|Element of stories featuring||Captain America|
Captain America's shield is a fictional item appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. It is the primary defensive and offensive piece of equipment used by and emblematic of Captain America. Over the years, Captain America has used several shields of varying composition and design. His original heater shield first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941), published by Marvel's 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics. The circular shield best associated with the character debuted in the next issue, Captain America Comics #2.
Captain America's shield is virtually indestructible under normal conditions. While cosmic and magical or godly opponents have broken the shield, the shield has absorbed Hulk's blows, repelled Thor's mystical hammer Mjölnir, and deflected adamantium blades without visible damage. It is composed of proto-adamantium, a never-duplicated combination of vibranium, steel alloy, and an unknown catalyst. This material absorbs kinetic energy, transferring very little and thus preventing Captain America from feeling recoil or transferred impact forces when blocking attacks. The shield can bounce off of most smooth surfaces, ricocheting multiple times with minimal loss in aerodynamic stability or speed. The shield can also absorb the kinetic impact of a fall, allowing Captain America to land safely even when jumping from several stories, as demonstrated in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
A common misconception is that the shield can "magically" return to Captain America. The "superhuman serum" that enhanced Captain America's physical attributes also improved his mental faculties—such as cognition, perception, balance, aim, and reflexes—to near genius-level. This allows him to instantly calculate ballistic-physics and predict the probable trajectory of objects in motion. This makes him a perfect shot. He can dodge or deflect bullets with his shield without collateral ricochet to civilians, to calculate where or how the shield will bounce and when it will return to his location, or trip a running person to cause them to fall into a specific position.
In his debut, Captain America (secretly U.S. Army Private Steve Rogers) is equipped with a heater-style shield made from steel. After complaints by rival comic-book publisher MLJ that the design was too similar to that of its own patriotic hero the Shield, Timely Comics replaced the triangular shield with a disc-shaped one.
While the origin and fate of the original shield were not described in the original comics from the 1940s, the shield's fate was revealed decades later in 2001 through a retconned story. According to the tale, King T'Chaka of Wakanda met Captain America in early 1941 and gave him a sample of vibranium, an alien metal with unique vibration-absorption properties and found only in Wakanda and the Savage Land. The vibranium was used to make Captain America's circular shield, and his triangular one was retired.
Captain America received a second triangular shield that he used until given his disc-shaped shield, presented to him by President Franklin Roosevelt. This second triangular shield was kept in storage with Rogers' other personal effects after the war. It was recovered at some point after Rogers joined the superhero team the Avengers in The Avengers #4, and was kept at Avengers Mansion. It was destroyed by the supervillain Mr. Hyde during a raid on the mansion by Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil, and later "plucked from time" and restored by Zemo in Thunderbolts #105 (October 2006). The shield (along with other sentimental items thought destroyed) was returned to Captain America. A third triangular shield is kept in the Smithsonian Institution. It was used by Captain America when he foiled a terrorist attack on the museum itself after the loss of his usual shield; it was then given to him in gratitude. This shield is destroyed several issues later by a Kree alien warrior.
In 2010, the history of the original shield was revised. In the limited series Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers, Captain America, Sergeant Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos meet Azzari (grandfather of T'Challa)—the Black Panther and king of Wakanda during World War II. Aided by Wakandan military forces, they repel a series of Nazi attacks led by the Red Skull and Baron Strucker. During the battle, the Red Skull (wearing a battle-suit) crushes the triangular shield, and Captain America uses a circular vibranium shield provided by T'Chaka to incapacitate the Skull. The weapon serves as the inspiration for the circular shield that the super-soldier begins using upon his return to America, and the encounter marks the beginning of friendly relations between the United States and Wakanda.
The circular Rotella-shield most associated with Captain America made its debut in Captain America Comics #2 (April 1941). An indestructible concavo-convex metal disc approximately 2.5 feet (0.76 m) in diameter, weighing 12 pounds (5.4 kg). It has remained Captain America's most constant shield over the decades.
In Captain America #255 (March 1981), it is established that the shield was presented to Rogers by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The shield is created by fictional American metallurgist Myron MacLain, who had been commissioned by the US government to create an indestructible armor material to aid the war effort. MacLain experiments with vibranium.
During one of his experiments to fuse vibranium with an experimental steel alloy, MacLain falls asleep and awakens to find that the resulting alloy had set in a tank hatch mold. It was then painted to become Captain America's symbol. MacLain would later attempt to recreate the shield's metal to no avail, his experiments instead eventually yielding the super-metal adamantium.
Rogers' indestructible shield is more durable than regular adamantium and is arguably the most indestructible object in the Marvel Universe. The vibranium grants the shield unusual properties, allowing it to absorb all of the kinetic impact and vibrations from any blows that the shield receives without injuring Rogers in the process. The vibranium is also a factor in the way Rogers throws his shield: he often uses it to ricochet and strike multiple opponents or stationary objects with little loss of speed after each impact.
When Rogers returns from suspended animation, Tony Stark "improves" the shield by incorporating electronic and magnetic components in it so that Rogers can even control it in flight. Rogers soon discards the additional components because he finds that it upsets the balance of the shield when thrown.
After Rogers' death, Stark takes over custody of the shield, with one replica on display in a museum, and another replica buried with Rogers. The real one is kept by Stark to be used by the new Captain America, whenever they deem it appropriate to train a new one. After failing to find a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent capable of throwing it properly, Stark offers the shield to Clint Barton (known at that time as Ronin), who does manage to throw it. During a confrontation involving the Young Avengers, he scolds Kate Bishop for using the Hawkeye name. She tells him that the "Real Cap" gave her that name in honor of his at the time dead friend, so this leads Barton to refuse to be Captain America. The shield is subsequently stolen by the Winter Soldier, who did not want anyone else to carry the shield. Inevitably, in an effort to honor Rogers' last wishes, Stark offers to let the Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) keep the shield, and to serve as the new Captain America. Bucky accepts. This offer is made "off the books", and only the two of them, the Black Widow, and the Falcon, are aware of the situation.
Although Bucky attempted to return the shield to Rogers after his resurrection, Rogers let Bucky keep it as he felt that he could do more good in his new role as Commander Steve Rogers rather than Captain America, using a photonic shield in its place when circumstances called for him to go into combat. He reclaimed the shield for good after Bucky was apparently killed during the Fear Itself event—Bucky really going underground after his past as the Winter Soldier was exposed—that also resulted in the shield being broken and reassembled by Asgardian blacksmiths, who add some of the mystical metal Uru to the reconstructed shield, making it even stronger than before, although it is left with a noticeable scar that Rogers decided to keep to give the shield character. This premise was not observed in subsequent storylines, or considered canon, as artists have not continued depicting the shield with the scar.
In the 2003-2004 Marvel Comics/DC Comics inter-company crossover limited series JLA/Avengers, Superman is given the shield by Captain America to wield in battle in the final confrontation with Krona, and is impressed with its might. When he asks where he could get one just like it while battling foes, Thor replies, "Enjoy it while thou canst, Superman. There is none other like it in all the worlds". Throughout the final battle, the shield changes forms between the pointed shield and the circular shield due to various temporal ripples caused by Krona's equipment, and Superman even loses the shield altogether at one point when he morphs into his energy form while Cap reacquires the photonic shield, although the metal shield reappears on Superman's arm after he morphs back into his regular form.
Destruction of the shield
Over time the shield has been damaged or destroyed several times within the confines of the Earth-616 continuity:
In The Avengers #215–216, the Molecule Man used his total control over matter to disintegrate the shield, along with Thor's hammer, Iron Man's armor, and the Silver Surfer's board. After he does so, he comments that the board's molecules are "weird", and while there are "odd forces interweaving" among the hammer's molecules, the shield is "weirdest of all". He later reassembles these items, with the exception of the armor, as the electronic circuits are too complicated for him to understand at that time.
During the 1984-1985 Secret Wars limited series, the shield is partially destroyed by Doctor Doom, who has stolen the power of the godlike being known as the Beyonder. Even broken, Rogers is able to wield what is left as an effective weapon, with the shield largely retaining its balance when thrown. When the Beyonder reclaims its power, the heroes are temporarily granted the ability to realize their wishes. Rogers uses this to reconstruct the shield.
During the 1991 miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos, who possesses near-omnipotence via the Infinity Gauntlet, shatters the shield with a blow of his fist while in combat with Captain America. The shield is soon restored by Thanos' alleged granddaughter, Nebula, when she obtains the Gauntlet and uses it to undo the events of Thanos's temporary godhood, resulting in her erasing the death and destruction that Thanos had caused over the previous 24 hours.
Due to a stray molecule being out of place when Rogers reconstructed the shield using the Beyonder's residual power, a vibranium "cancer" was introduced to the shield, spreading with each subsequent impact until it finally shattered after it was retrieved from the bottom of the ocean. Learning that the vibranium cancer would require the destruction of the shield in order to cure it, Rogers took the shield to the main vibranium deposit in Wakanda so that he could use a device created by Tony Stark to halt the 'cancer' before it could contaminate the Wakandan vibranium and destroy the world, only to be intercepted by the villain Klaw, who sought to absorb the power and become stronger. Fortunately, the amount of energy Klaw had absorbed was released when he struck the shattered shield with full force after Rogers picked it up on reflex, resulting in Klaw unintentionally restoring the shield to its original state, realigning its molecules and destroying the cancer.
During the 2011 miniseries Fear Itself, the Serpent, the Asgardian god of fear and brother to Odin, breaks it in half with his bare hands. After the battle, the shield is repaired by Asgardian dwarves and Tony Stark with added Asgardian uru-infused enhancements and Stark's own technology to make it stronger, though a scar is left, and the dwarves are unable to repair it. Stark offers a solution to the scar, but Rogers declines, saying that it "gave the old girl a little bit of character". This premise was not observed in subsequent storylines, or considered canon, as artists have not continued depicting the shield with the scar.
- While Rogers was asleep in suspended animation, three other men used the identity of Captain America, all using steel replicas of the discus shield. The 1950s Captain America was placed in suspended animation after becoming mentally unstable. By the time he was revived years later, Rogers had returned. When the two clashed, the 1950s Captain America's shield was broken.[volume & issue needed]
- In the 1980s, in a story written by Mark Gruenwald, Rogers chose to resign his identity rather than submit to the orders of the United States government and took the alias of "The Captain" instead. During this period, the role of Captain America was assumed by John Walker, the former Super-Patriot, who used both the costume and the indestructible shield. In his new identity of "The Captain", Rogers initially used a pure adamantium shield provided by Tony Stark, but a falling out between the two as a result of the "Armor Wars" storyline led Rogers to return it. He then began to use a pure vibranium shield provided by the Black Panther. When Rogers returned to his Captain America identity, Walker became the U.S. Agent and returned the shield to him. Walker would go on to have his own array of different shields over the years, the first of which appeared to be the last vibranium shield Rogers was using as the Captain. The U.S. Agent used shields with an eagle motif and one in the shape of a star, as well as a photonic energy shield.[volume & issue needed]
- At one point, when Rogers was exiled from the United States and was briefly unable to use his shield, Sharon Carter provided him with a photonic energy shield designed to mimic a vibranium matrix. This shield was also able to turn into an energy staff that could be used as a weapon.[volume & issue needed]
- During the time when the shield was lost in the Atlantic, Rogers tried using a pure adamantium shield, but was unable to get used to the balance. He also tried fighting without a shield but also found it awkward. While up against HYDRA agents in the Smithsonian, he picked up the triangular shield that was being exhibited there and used it for a time before it was crushed by a Kree warrior.[volume & issue needed]
- Sharon Carter next provided him with another photonic shield, but one whose shape could be controlled to morph the energy field into a wider force field, a bo staff or even fire a projection of the shield. While he enjoyed the versatility, Rogers noticed a number of drawbacks, particularly its inability to ricochet. Rogers gave one of the energy shield gloves to a freedom fighter in an oppressive future he traveled to and received a replacement from S.H.I.E.L.D. when he got back to his own time. The photonic shield was eventually lost again in a confrontation with Ultron when Hank Pym's use of vibranium resulted in the destruction of the generator that created the shield, leading to Rogers finally reacquiring his original shield.[volume & issue needed]
- In Secret Avengers, he uses a new energy shield which could be generated on either arm, or both, and was able to be thrown and ricochet off surfaces to hit targets before it dissipates, preventing enemies from using it against him. A new shield would be generated moments later. Moon Knight, who had acquired a copy of the technology, had it described to him as a "zero point energy shield".
- In Captain America: Steve Rogers, Steve wields a new version of the triangular shield that can deploy an energy blade on its pointy end and can be divided in two, allowing him to use both halves in combat.
- In the 1998-1999 time travel mini-series Avengers Forever, various future and alternate versions of Captain America are shown with many different variations of the shield.
- In the Marvel manga stories, Captain America uses a photonic shield before his death in Volumes 1 and 2, and his bodyguards use shields of metal. The shield also appears in the Rings of Fate mini-series, having been acquired by Carol Danvers after Elektra stole it from Avengers Mansion when she uses the costume of Captain America.
- Captain Mexical is an alternate world version of Captain America from a dimension where the Aztec empire never fell. He is kept in the mainstream Marvel universe. His shield is used by Machine Man as a weapon during a zombie incursion; Mexical himself is slain.
- Ultimate Captain America uses a shield of pure adamantium, although that metal may not possess the same properties in the Ultimate Marvel universe as it does in the mainstream Marvel Universe. The shield was destroyed when Gregory Stark smashed it with Thor's hammer, though Captain America would wield another later.
- In Ultimate Nightmare, Ultimate Captain America encounters his Russian counterpart, who has been driven mad due to being trapped in an underground complex for many years. He has created a "replica" of the shield, which turns out to be made out of scrap metal and human remains and grafted directly onto his forearm, and which proves far less powerful than Captain America's own shield.
In other media
- In the 1970s Captain America TV movies, Steve Rogers is given a transparent plexiglass shield painted with concentric stripes (red and clear transparent) and a central star. The shield was designed to act as the windscreen for his motorcycle, but could be detached and used in its traditional offensive / defensive role when Rogers goes on foot. Furthermore, the shield can apparently return to Rogers in a smooth arc when thrown without needing to be ricocheted and with enough force to knock a man down in the return path.
- In 2003, the company Factory X released a line of licensed prop replicas of items from the Marvel Universe. An aluminum replica of Captain America's shield was among their initial line up of props, and was limited to a production of 2,525 pieces.
- In the closing of the March 12, 2007 episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert read a letter from Joe Quesada in response to Colbert's earlier comments toward Captain America. He was then presented with what was said to be Captain America's indestructible shield, reportedly willed to Colbert in the event of Cap's "death". The shield was originally credited to be one of the Factory X replicas, but this is not the case. The shield given to Colbert was originally acquired by the long-time writer and editor (and late) Mark Gruenwald, who either commissioned it or received it as a gift. It eventually found its way into the hands of Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort, and was kept in his office until being passed on to Colbert. In a pre-show conversation with a studio audience, Colbert, speaking out of character, said that when his wife saw the shield and the accompanying note, she started crying. He confessed he was a little bemused by her reaction to a fictional character sending a prop shield to a fictional version of himself. The shield was put on display hanging on the wall along with other trophies on The Colbert Report set for every episode afterwards. After The Colbert Report ended, the shield was moved to the set of Colbert's next talk show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where it was put on display since.
- In the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "A Day Unlike Any Other", Loki uses his magic to shatter Captain America's shield while taunting him. In the episode "Behold... The Vision!", Captain America's shield is restored by the Black Panther and scientists in Wakanda using the vibranium machine that fused the pieces back together.
- The adamantium-vibranium alloy version of the shield becomes the main plot device for the story in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Not a Toy".
Captain America's shield is a recurring image throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise:
- In the 2008 film Iron Man, a partially completed replica of Captain America's shield appears at the point where Pepper Potts comes in on Tony Stark trying to get out of his damaged armor; the shield is visible in the distance below Tony's right arm. According to a tie-in comic, Tony's father Howard Stark created the shield. Tony subsequently used the alloy of a prototype to create his armor.
- In the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger, the round shield (along with Rogers himself) is found by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the Arctic within a crashed aircraft in the present day. During World War II, Steve Rogers uses an ornamental version of the triangular shield during a musical tour promoting War Bonds, which he then uses in his first field mission and is rendered useless when Johann Schmidt punches a large dent in it. He later notices an unadorned vibranium shield among Howard Stark's proposed weapons, which Stark says is stronger than steel and weighs only one third as much. Although it is merely a prototype that Stark did not intend for one of Rogers' weapons, Rogers decides to use it after it is painted into the familiar red, white and blue pattern. The shield is later on board the Valkyrie when Rogers crashes the bomber, and becomes frozen along with him in the Arctic.
- In the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron, the handles of the shield have been replaced with magnetic elements, allowing Captain America to control the shield and call it back to his gauntlets. Its status as a vibranium construct is referenced when the Avengers determine that Ultron is heading to Wakanda, as vibranium is the only thing from Wakanda that Ultron could want. During his later fight with Ultron, Rogers briefly loses his shield when it is thrown from the top of the truck where he was fighting Ultron, but Black Widow grabs it and returns it to its owner. When Wanda Maximoff triggers a vision of Tony Stark's greatest fear, he sees all of the other Avengers dead and the shield broken next to Rogers.
- In Avengers: Infinity War, T'Challa and Shuri present Rogers new dual-retractable vibranium shields in order to replace his traditional circular one he abandoned.
- In Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark reunites Rogers with his circular shield when Stark joins the mission to undo the events of Infinity War, acting as a gesture of reconciliation between the two estranged friends. Tony reveals he kept the shield in his garage and jokes that his daughter might've soon tried to go sledding with it. While in 2012, Steve faces the past version of himself who mistakes him for Loki in disguise, leading to the two versions of Captain America using their shields in battle against each other. The shield suffers significant damage during Steve's battle with Thanos, whose sword proves to be a match for vibranium.
- In the animated movie Ultimate Avengers, based loosely on The Ultimates, Captain America uses a shield made from vibranium and adamantium compound. Captain America used his triangular shield throughout World War II, only gaining the disc-shaped vibranium-bearing shield after he awoke in the present day. The composition of the triangular shield remains unrevealed. It did prove to be effective against the bullets of German soldiers, but was dented by the punch of a Chitauri taking the form of Herr Kleiser.
- "Vibranium". Marvel Database. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
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