Captain America's shield is his primary weapon. The most well-known of his shields is a disc shaped object with a five-pointed star design in its center, within blue, red, and white concentric circles. This shield is composed of a unique alloy of Vibranium, Adamantium, and an unknown third component. It is virtually indestructible. It is as much an offensive weapon as a defensive one for Captain America. Cap uses it against his enemies, mainly, by throwing it at them and can perform mindbogglingly impossible tricks with it.
Originally, Dr. Myron MacLain was attempting to perfect an indestructible alloy as strong as the legendary 'Adamantine', which Hercules' Golden Mace was made from. Dr. MacLain was hoping the alloy would provide a distinct advantage in the armor of American war machines, during World War II. The Doctor worked tirelessly, using the exotic Vibranium metal and an unknown substance. While the Doctor was asleep, as a result of his exhaustion, an unknown factor caused the metals he was working with to bond.
The alloy was poured into the shape of a discus. Some sources say that Dr. MacLain chose the discus shape because of its versatility, while other say that he used an existing cast designed for tank hatches. Presumably, the titanium steel bolts used to fasten straps to the disc were also forged at this time. It was painted in its familiar red-white-and-blue pattern using titanium oxide paint (though it has been repainted since then). Later, the shield was presented to Captain America by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Later, Dr. MacLain's attempts to duplicate the shield, minus Wakandan Vibranium and the mystery factor, resulted in true Adamantium. Because of this historical link, the unknown substance composing the shield is sometimes referred to as "proto-adamantium".
The shield was on Steve Rogers' person when he crashed in the arctic and he was frozen in a state of suspended animation. After being revived by the Avengers, Tony Stark made several electronic and magnetic improvements upon the shield, which allowed Rogers to control the discus in flight. The additional components threw off the balance of the shield when thrown, however, and Rogers soon removed them.
In Cap's early adventures with the Avengers, the shield appeared to be destroyed a number of times, only to appear whole again in time for the next adventure. It was later explained that the curious Stark had frequently borrowed the unique shield for analysis and provided a steel replica for Cap to use each time. The true shield was once slightly dented by an enraged Odinforce empowered Thor, using Mjolnir, but he later reconciled and pounded out the small dent.
During the Super-Heroes Secret Wars, the shield was destroyed by Doctor Doom, who had assumed the Beyonder's godlike powers. The Beyonder soon recovered his powers and, as a side effect, released a wave of energy that produced a "wish effect". That is, each person on Battleworld was able to harness a portion the Beyonder's infinite power to realize some wish. Cap's wish was to have his shield whole.
Later, Captain America lost his shield over the Atlantic Ocean and it sank to the bottom. Stark sent a crew to recover the shield, at considerable cost, and months later did manage to retrieve it (Cap used a series of steel replicas during this time). Unfortunately, the shield was dropped on the ship's deck during recovery and the once-indestructible shield shattered. After examining the pieces, Stark and Rogers discovered that its unique molecular structure had changed. A small sub-molecular imperfection, a single misaligned molecule, was introduced. With every blow the shield took, the Vibranium within absorbed more energy and the flaw propagated to other molecules, until the shield's bond were completely and spontaneously broken down. Worse still, the energies released by the Vibranium created a shock-wave that spread like a "Vibranium cancer", violently destroying any Vibranium it encountered. Eventually the shock-wave, feeding off each newly destroyed source of Vibranium, would reach the Great Vibranium Mound in Wakanda, resulting in a blast that could destroy the world. Rogers travelled to Wakanda with the pieces of the shield taped together, hoping he could save the world by using the remaining Vibranium within the shield to absorb the shock-wave. In doing so he was prepared to sacrifice what remained of the shield. However, the shock-wave was first intercepted by the Klaw, who absorbed it into his own body of living sound energy. Klaw soon attacked Rogers with his augmented powers. When Cap reflexively raised his shattered shield in defense, the shards absorbed the energy and the ultra-powerful harmonics restored the Vibranium nanostructure.
For a time, Rogers was asked to relinquish the role of Captain America and the costume and shield were turned over to the new Captain America, John Walker. During this time, Rogers acted as "the Captain" and used a pure Adamantium shield, provided by Stark. After the two had a falling out over the Armor Wars, Rogers decided to return the shield and, instead, used a pure Vibranium shield, provided by Black Panther. When Rogers re-assumed the mantle of Captain America, he reacquired the unique shield. As US Agent, Walker took on Rogers' Captain costume and Vibranium shield.
Thanos of Titan later shattered the shield with a single blow, by using the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, but the shield was restored when Nebula obtained the Gauntlet and undid most of Thanos' villainy. On another occasion, the shield was destroyed by the Molecule Man, along with Iron Man's armor, Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and the Silver Surfer's surfboard.
Later, Molecule Man decided to restore the board, hammer, and shield. Molecule Man commented that though the board was of alien composition and Mjolnir was bound together by mystical forces, the shield was unlike anything he'd ever seen.
After the death of Rogers, Stark buried him with a replica, placed a replica in the Captain America Museum, and offered the original shield to newly revived Avenger, Hawkeye, but Hawkeye declined. After reading Rogers' will, which asked Stark to look-after Rogers' WWII partner Bucky, now calling himself the Winter Soldier, Stark offered the shield and title of Captain America to James "Bucky" Barnes. After Rogers' return from death, Barnes attempted to return it to him, but Rogers declined, after seeing a future event where Barnes died and believed that keeping the title of Captain America would save him.
Barnes carried the shield, until Sin, the daughter of Rogers' arch-enemy Red Skull, began calling herself the Red Skull and discovered an ancient Asgardian hammer, which made her the avatar of Skadi, daughter of the Asgardian God of Fear. Wielding immense powers and an army of Nazis, Skadi destroyed the White House and Barnes was killed, attempting to stop her. Rogers took the shield and mantle of Captain America once again, but the shield was again destroyed, after Rogers threw it at the God of Fear himself and he broke it apart over his head, with his bare hands.
The Shield was later reconstructed, by Stark using the mystical Asgardian metal Uru making it "stronger than ever". The weapon-smith Dwarves that helped Stark were unable to remove a crack that went across the shield and Stark offered to take the scar off, but Rogers stated that it "gave the old girl a little bit of character".
Surviving into the Future
In several alternate timelines, the shield survives and comes to be possessed by other significant individuals. In late 37th-early 39th century, Nathan Dayspring and Tetherbood lead a squad of the Clan Rebellion to obtain the shield, which Nathan used to inspire liberty and justice in his followers and bore into many battles, until it was ripped from his arm.
On Earth-691, Major Victory acted on rumor and legend to find the shield, which he used as a symbol to rally the warring people of Earth after they were freed from the conquering Badoon in the 31st century. On Earth-9200, Rick Jones gathered the shield and other artifacts into a memorial of the heroes slain by the Maestro. After the Hulk defeated the Maestro, Jones' ashes were epoxied onto the shield and the Hulk threw it into space as an eternal memorial.
Captain America's only weapon is his shield, a concave disk 2.5 feet in diameter, weighing 12 pounds. It is made of a unique Vibranium-Adimantium alloy that has never been duplicated. The Shield was cast by American metallurgist Dr. Myron MacLain, who was contracted by the U.S. government to create an impenetrable substance to use for tanks during World War II. During his experiments, MacLain combined Vibranium with an Adamantium-steel alloy he was working with and created the disc-shaped shield. MacLain was never able to duplicate the process due to his inability to identify a still unknown factor that played a role in it. The shield was awarded to Captain America by the government several months after the beginning of his career.
The shield has great aerodynamic properties: it is able to slice through the air with minimal wind resistance and deflection of path. Its great overall resilience, combined with its natural concentric stiffness, enables it to rebound from objects with minimal loss of angular momentum. It is, pretty much, virtually indestructible: it is resistant to penetration, temperature extremes, and the entire electromagnetic spectrum of radiation. The only way it can be damaged in any way is by tampering with its molecular bonding.
The shield is not only nearly indestructible, but it absorbs a great deal of kinetic energy from impacts because of its Vibranium component. That is why the Hulk and Thor can pound it while Cap is holding it, without simply sending him into the ground or the air. Cap has also used the shield to cushion the force of impact when dropped from a high altitude by standing on the shield.
Other Shields Used by Captain America
- Originally Captain America carried a steel shield, resembling the traditional shield found in the Seal of the United States. This shield remains among the Captain's personal effects. (Was crushed in Avengers #275)
- A similar, traditionally-shaped shield made of Vibranium was given as a gift from the Black Panther of Wakanda as a token of a pledge to stay out of World War II. Supposedly, it is on exhibit in a Wakandan museum.
- The disc-shaped shield was later presented to Steve Rogers by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
- A third shield of the traditional design resided for some time in the Smithsonian museum. This version was used in combat against Hydra agents while the original was lost in the Atlantic. The "Smithsonian" variant was eventually destroyed in battle against the Kree.
- A number of disc-shaped steel replicas, which Rogers used while Tony Stark was analyzing the unique World War II era shield.
- As "the Captain", Rogers, for a time, used a disc-shaped shield composed of True Adamantium, given to him by Stark.
- After returning the Adamantium shield, following the Armor Wars, Rogers used a discus-shaped, Wakandan, Vibranium shield given to him by the Black Panther.
- An Energy shield from Sharon Carter, which was capable of changing shape due to a 'flexibility matrix.'
- A round osmium steel shield from Doctor Doom.
- A traditionally-shaped shield is currently being used by the Patriot. It is presumably a replica.
Other Shield Wielders
- Sam Wilson, while he was standing-in for Steve Rogers.
- Wonder Man while battling with the Avengers against Count Nefaria (after Cap was barely able to stand and pursue the Count and gave the Shield to Simon} 
- John Walker, while he was standing-in for Steve Rogers.
- James "Bucky" Barnes, while he was standing-in for Steven Rogers.
- Clint Barton, while he was standing-in for Steven Rogers (When he was thought to be deceased.)
- Major Victory, the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, found the shield in that alternate future.
- Nathan Dayspring, the leader of the Clan Rebellion, found the shield in that alternate future.
- Crusader, alternate reality daughter of Steve Rogers and Rogue, where the Secret Wars participants never left the Battleworld. She also was able to, and did use, Mjolnir.
- Superman used the shield, along with Mjolnir, to defend the fallen Avengers and his fellow Justice League team-mates.
- Kelsey Leigh, who was killed during a battle involving the Avengers and the Wrecking Crew trying to protect a downed Captain America.
Alternate Universe Shields
|In Earth-199999, it's a circular disk about 2.5 feet in diameter, weighing 12 pounds, it was made of a Vibranium, the rarest metal on Earth at the time. The amount of Vibranium used for Cap's shield is the all the Vibranium that the United States had access to. The Shield was made by Howard Stark. The shield is three times lighter than steel and negates large amounts of damage by absorbing vibrations. The shield had great aerodynamic properties: it was able to slice through the air with minimal wind resistance and deflection of path. Its great overall resilience, combined with its natural concentric stiffness, enabled it to rebound from objects with minimal loss of angular momentum. It was virtually indestructible: it was resistant to penetration, and extreme temperature extremes. It can even resist magic, as seen when Steven Rogers used it to deflect an energy blast from Loki's Sceptre back to the villian, and when it successfully withstand a strong blow of a fully charged Mjolnir at the hands of an angered Thor (Given that a similarly powerful strike destroyed several miles of rock and ice in Jotunheim, this gave an insight of how strong the shield truly is).||Captain America: The First Avenger|
|In Earth-Iron Doom, a world visited by Weapon X, Captain America was killed in the Mutant Wars, instigated by Magneto. His shield was shown to have been melted through.||Exiles #23|
|In Earth-Vampire Avengers, Cap/The Vampire King's shield has no blue in it whatsoever.||Exiles #31|
|In Earth-94831, Cap was killed while fighting Sentinels over the murder of the X-Men. His shield has a huge piece missing.||Exiles #38|
|In Earth-4400, Cap was killed attempting to prevent Hyperion from taking over his planet. His shield is cracked.||Exiles #44|
|In Earth-4162, Cap is a little more commando, and his shield seems to reflect that.||Exiles #52|
|The reality this razor-pointed shield came from is unknown, it was found impaled in Maverick.||Exiles #62|
|In Earth-10011, Cap is corrupted by the unseen "many-angled ones", and his shield seems to reflect that.||Realm of Kings #1|
|In Earth-5692, Cap is the Game's reigning gladiatorial champion and the Skrulls love him. His shield seems to reflect Skrull technology in appearance.||Exiles #9|
|In Earth-37072, Cap is effected by Kulan Gath's Master Spell, his shield seems to reflect the Dark Ages-like setting.||Exiles #56|
|In Earth-398, Cap is altered by Morgan Le Fay's reality distortion wave, his shield seems to reflect the medieval-like setting.||Avengers Vol 3 #2|
|In Earth-1519, Cap hails from a reality where the Aztecs had never been conquered, his shield seems to reflect this.||Marvel Zombies 3 #4|
|In Earth-21050, Cap's shield is black instead of blue.||Marvel Apes: Prime Eight Special #1|
|In Earth-1610, Cap's shield is made of Adamantium.||Ultimates #1|
|In Earth-2189, Cap's shield is chipped from conflict with Namora, because he stood in the way of her plans.||Exiles #47|
|In Earth-5113, Cap's shield is corrupted by Dormammu, with jagged spikes around the shield's rim.||Defenders Vol 3 #4|
|In Earth-717, Cap's shield is in fact the Shield of We-Pi-Ahk which, when thrown, transformed into a manifestation of the Eagle Chief.||What If? Vol 4 #1|
|In Earth-Age of X, Cap's shield is blue and black instead of red and blue.||Age of X Universe #1|
|In the Captain America television films, the shield has no white in it, with that part being instead transparent. The shield can withstand shotgun bullets, and Cap throws it using the boomerang effect; however, when returning, the shield drops to his feet and he does not catch it. He puts the shield in the front part of his motorbike.||Captain America (1979 film)|
|Earth-697064.||Captain America (1990 film)|
- Originally, Marvel decided to discontinue use of Captain America's traditionally-shaped shield after rival comic book publisher MLJ (now Archie Comics) complained that the design was too similar to that of their own patriotic hero, "the Shield." It was at that point that they first switched to the discus-shaped shield. No explanation was given at the time.
- Rogers' indestructible shield has often been referred to as being an adamantium-vibranium alloy. This is a result of an erroneous entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe entry on Captain America (though it was accurately described in the adamantium entry), which propagated into future stories. The error was corrected in Captain America 303 (March 1985), which established that the shield is made of vibranium and steel.
- In the 1960's and 70's, writers of Captain America and the Avengers pondered the true nature of Cap's indestructible shield. Some credit on the canon for the shield must be given to letter writer 'Fred Janssen'. In the letters page of Captain America #145, he details a theory that the Shield is based upon Vibranium, Adamantium, and the work of Myron McClain. Although other ideas proposed by Janssen are not upheld, the genesis of this letter provided Marvel creators a basis for defining Cap's Shield.
- On the late night television show "The Colbert Report", Stephen Colbert has Captain America's Shield hanging on the wall of the set.
- Appearances of Captain America's Shield
- Images featuring Captain America's Shield
- Item Gallery: Captain America's Shield
- Fan-Art Gallery: Captain America's Shield
Links and References
- Wikipedia contributors, "Captain America's shield," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Captain_America%27s_shield&oldid=96290840 (accessed January 1, 2007).