Captain America‘s shield is one of the most powerful objects in the Marvel Universe – not because it has superpowers like Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, but because of its durability. Comprised of primarily – or wholly, depending on the timeline – of vibranium (metal found in the fictional country of Wakanda), Captain America’s shield is impenetrable. It absorbs any and all kinetic energy that impacts it, thus protecting its wielder, but it’s not without limits.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America’s shield is considered invulnerable; something that we’ve seen proven time and time again. In the comics, however, the shield has failed to protect Steve Rogers on numerous occasions, which unfortunately results in his demise. But to destroy such an object requires immense strength or godlike powers, and people with those kinds of abilities are far and few. With that in mind, here are 15 Characters Who Have Broken Captain America’s Shield.
15. Doctor Doom
Doctor Doom is not only one of the most intelligent supervillains in the Marvel Universe, but he’s also one of the strongest. And while he’s the archnemesis of Mr. Fantastic and primarily a Fantastic Four villain, Doctor Doom has had some quality run-ins with the Avengers over the years. One of those run-ins was during Marvel’s massive limited series crossover event in the mid-’80s: Secret Wars.
Masterminded by then-Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, Secret Wars features several superhero teams and supervillains, including Doctor Doom, as well as the cosmic entity Beyonder (who was, at the time, portrayed as being the most powerful villain in the Marvel Universe). In the story arc, the Beyonder transports Earth’s mightiest heroes and supervillains to the distant planet Battleworld to, quite literally, battle each other, with the promise that whoever wins will be granted whatever their heart desired.
At one point in the story, Doctor Doom steals the Beyonder’s godlike power and then later uses it to incinerate the remaining heroes – all 21 of them – and the only image we’re left with is Captain America’s shield, broken, lying in the wreckage. But we’re talking about comics here, a medium in which no one really stays dead, and an iconic object like Captain America’s shield cannot remain broken.
During Jim Starlin’s famed 1991 miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos aka the Mad Titan gets hold of the eponymous Infinity Gauntlet, which, at this point, is mounted with all six Infinity Gems – Power, Mind, Soul, Time, Space, and Reality. By putting the Gauntlet on, Thanos becomes omnipotent, a seemingly unstoppable force.
After Thanos wipes out half of all sentient life in the universe (simply by snapping his fingers), Adam Warlock leads Earth’s surviving heroes in an attack on the Mad Titan – which results in a catastrophic failure. In a last ditch effort, Captain America battles Thanos head-on, but with one swift blow, Thanos shatters Cap’s shield. Could this be what Tony Stark saw in his nerve-racking dream (premonition?) in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron?
Marvel Studios has been planning an epic showdown between the Mad Titan and the Avengers ever since they unveiled the supervillain in a post-credits scene at the end of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Now, with four Gems having already been recovered, perhaps we’ll see Thanos break Cap’s shield in Anthony and Joe Russo’s (soon-to-be-renamed) Avengers: Infinity War.
13. Molecule Man
Very few characters in the Marvel Universe can damage, let alone break, Captain America’s shield, but with a character like Molecule Man, whose power is controlling virtually the entire multiverse (because, you know, everything has molecules), it’s not that difficult to destroy the Captain’s most prized possession.
With his powers, Molecule Man can be considered one of the most powerful supervillains in the multiverse, something he proved when he battled the Avengers in the All the Ways of Power story arc. In The Avengers #215 comic, the Molecule Man’s wand attempts to enslave the Silver Surfer’s body, but fails to do so, and instead recreates Molecule Man. When confronted by the Avengers, the supervillain does what he does best – destroy his enemies’ weapons.
However, Molecule Man does not only disintegrate Cap’s shield, but he also destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, Iron Man’s armor suit, and the Silver Surfer’s board – three things that are virtually indestructible. He later agrees to reassemble everything, except for Iron Man‘s armor, because its advanced circuitry is too much for Molecule Man to comprehend.
Similar to what we saw happen in the future timeline in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, in the alternate timeline Earth-94831, the Sentinels were once dispatched by the U.S. government to eradicate the world of mutants. It was a genocide on the largest scale possible, and that didn’t sit right with the mighty Captain America, who embraces his morality above all else.
With the virtually all of the mutants gone, including the X-Men, many of whom were Steve Rogers’ friends and allies, the surviving heroes on Earth sought to avenge their comrades and took the fight to the Sentinels. But just like what happened with the mutants, the Sentinels adapted to the powers and heroes they faced. Captain America, with all his brute strength and high morale, never stood a chance. He was quickly defeated by the Sentinels, and all that remained was an image of his shield, with a piece broken off.
There have been a number of alternate Earths and timelines in the Marvel Universe, which contain alternate versions of heroes and villains. One of those villains was Hyperion, who became commonly known as the God-Emperor. Years before his meeting with Steve Rogers, King Hyperion once ruled an Earth where the populace rebelled. Those rebels eventually brought about a nuclear holocaust resulting in the death of every human the planet, with the exception of Hyperion himself. After spending years alone on Earth-4023, King Hyperion was later saved and given Storm’s position on the dimension-hopping team Weapon X.
As leader of Weapon X, Hyperion sought to conquer all the alternate Earths in the multiverse with the help of alternate versions of Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. But he was met with some resistance by members of the Avengers, namely Captain America, who tried to prevent Hyperion from taking over his planet, Earth-4400. Unfortunately, the Captain failed his mission – at the cost of his own life – as well as his shield, which cracked in the aftermath.
Before teaming up to take down Loki in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Thor, Tony Stark, and Steve Rogers had a little spat in the woods, where the God of Thunder attempted to break Captain America’s shield with Mjolnir. But he was not strong enough, and all they did was cause an explosion destroying everything in their nearby vicinity.
If Thor wanted to damage Captain America’s frisbee-like shield, he would require greater strength (or magic) in order to do so – and that is where the Odinforce comes in; an ancient force fueled by the combined powers of Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve. Upon Odin’s death, the Odinforce passed on to Thor, who assumed the mantle of King of Asgard.
Empowered with the ancient force, an infuriated Thor struck Cap’s shield with all his might which resulted in nothing more than a minor dent. But being the good comrade he is, Thor used Mjolnir to pound out the dent, as one would do with a friend’s car.
9. King Thor
No, this is not a double entry. In one timeline, Thor managed to acquire enough power merely to dent Captain America’s shield, but in another, alternate timeline Thor succeeded in performing a feat no other Avenger has been able to do: break Cap’s shield.
When Thor became King of Asgard, he sought to be more involved in the lives of mortals – including humans, which is why King Thor had Asgard moved to earth, specifically above New York City. Essentially, Thor became a god to humans. That didn’t sit well with the U.S. government, so in retaliation to King Thor’s growing totalitarianism, Captain America and Earth’s mightiest heroes attacked the former Avenger.
But with the power of the Odinforce, combined with Rune Magic, King Thor was virtually unstoppable. And when Captain America attacked him, he destroyed the Captain’s shield, killing him in the process. However, all of this was later erased from the timeline when King Thor traveled back in time and prevented it all from happening.
8. The Serpent
Captain America’s shield has been both dented and broken by Thor, but there is one other Asgardian that also holds the rare honor of breaking the good Captain’s shield: Serpent, the God of Fear; who also happens to be the brother of Odin and, therefore, the uncle of Thor.
In the 2011 crossover event Fear Itself (a reference to a quote by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt), the Serpent is freed from his underwater prison by Sin, the daughter of Red Skull, and subsequently begins his campaign to usurp the throne from Odin and assume his “rightful” position as the All-Father. Unfortunately for him, he is met with some resistance from the Avengers, namely Iron Man and Captain America.
When the Captain confronts the Serpent by throwing his shield at him, the god of fear does something no one has been able to do (not without some form of magic, at least): he caught the shield, raised it over his head, and broke it in half with his bare hands. But, again, we’re talking about comics here and Captain America’s shield never stays broken. With some help from Tony Stark and the Asgardian metalsmith Uru, Cap’s shield is fully restored, albeit with a distinguishable scar.
Loki, the God of Mischief and Thor’s brother, is the third Asgardian on this list who has damaged or broken Captain America’s shield, but he’s the only character on this list who has destroyed the shield in a TV series rather than a comic book. In the season one finale of Disney XD’s Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon, the Avengers launch a final attack against Loki in Asgard as the other eight realms were lost.
Unlike in comic books and live-action movies, the rules are somewhat lenient in cartoons, which is why Loki was able to use his magic – enhanced with the power of Odinforce – to shatter Cap’s shield, all while mocking him. But when Thor used the Odinforce in the comics, he barely dented the shield – and he’s a god of war! Of course, Captain America’s shield cannot remain broken, and with the help of Black Panther, the Captain’s shield is reconstructed using a Wakandan vibranium machine.
6. Gregory Stark
In 2000, Marvel Comics launched the Ultimate Marvel Universe which saw re-imagined and updated versions of iconic characters, such as Spider-Man, Thor, and Iron Man. Many characters received varied origin stories, while others received new powers. For Iron Man, though, things were a little different. The writers took this opportunity to introduce a new character into the Iron Man comics and Avengers team: Gregory Stark, Tony Stark’s older brother and a charter member of the new Project Avengers.
Things remained largely the same for Captain America, with one notable difference: his cherished shield was no longer made out of vibranium from Wakanda, but rather out of pure adamantium (the same metal Wolverine’s claws are comprised of). After a civil war between the Ultimates and the Avengers, seemingly orchestrated by Gregory Stark, Nick Fury and the remaining Avengers confronted Stark, whose nanites imbued him with superhuman strength. And with the help of the New Ultimates, the Avengers eventually defeated the elder Stark brother, but not before Gregory destroyed Captain America’s shield.
Leading up to the release of Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Studios kept hinting at Captain America’s shield breaking; it was an image evocative of the earlier comic story arc the movie is based on, Age of Ultron.
In the Age of Ultron limited series, New York City is ruined and the majority of the world’s superheroes have either been killed or are in hiding. After first rescuing Spider-Man, earth’s remaining heroes gather – battered and defeated – in an attempt to ideate a plan that would bring down the villain Ultron. When they meet, Steve Rogers is seen sitting in a corner, beside his broken shield, with his head between his knees. It was a daunting image, one that showed the frailty of the Avengers – who were all broken, in regards to both morale and bones (quite literally for some).
While it’s never revealed who broke Cap’s shield, it’s heavily implied that either Ultron or Ultron’s Sentinels were responsible. After all, who else would be strong enough to break an indestructible frisbee?
4. Mutant Wars
Long before Hyperion led the dimension-hopping team, Weapon X visited many Earths in an attempt to fix their realities. In one of those realities, a sinister Tony Stark somehow managed to convince the world to elect him Emperor of the Planet, a life-long position. With all that power and control, Stark turned evil and eventually became a dictator, with the devout goal of extirpating heroism – but he didn’t stop there. Anyone who opposed him – heroes or villains – were eliminated. Because of his tyrannical ways, the planet, designated Earth-42777, became appropriately known as Earth-Iron Doom.
As you can imagine, there were uprisings, which inevitably led into war. One of those wars, the Mutant Wars, was initiated by the mutant freedom fighter Magneto. Stark’s ultimate demise came at the hands of the Inhumans, who were led by Black Bolt and Sue Storm, but it was Magneto’s mutants who were the catalyst in a successful rebellion; a rebellion in which Captain America was a part of, and one in which his precious shield was broken – or, more specifically, melted through. Unfortunately, it’s never revealed who was responsible for its destruction.
The Exiles comics were not a good series for the good Captain. Not only was his shield destroyed by King Hyperion and a mutant during the Mutant Wars, but by Namora as well, who is the daughter of an Atlantean father and human mother, and cousin of Namor the Sub-Mariner. However, instead of being Namor’s cousin, on an alternate Earth Namora was rather his counterpart. And in that storyline, she was responsible for the mass killings of the Earth’s superheroes.
As a mutant, Namora was convinced by Professor Xavier to not attack the surface world. However, with anti-mutant sentiment building, and as a result of the imprisonment of mutants, Namora ultimately decided to attack her surface world counterparts and became the world’s ruler (that happens a lot in these comics). Just like with the aforementioned stories, Earth’s heroes weren’t on board with her rise to power and retaliated. Unfortunately, they didn’t stand for much and were easily defeated. One of those heroes was Captain America, whose shield was chipped by the Atlantean ruler. While his shield didn’t break in this storyline, chipping it is still quite impressive.
2. Vibranium Cancer
Cancer is a villain unlike any other, one that plagues millions of people each year; it’s also something Marvel once used to explain why Captain America’s seemingly indestructible shield broke shortly after being recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. You see, when Captain America tried to reconstruct the shield using the Beyonder’s power after Doctor Doom first broke it, he didn’t quite reassemble it correctly. Due to a misplaced molecule, a vibranium cancer developed, and it spread rapidly with each impact.
Since the Captain couldn’t bear the loss of his shield, he taped together the broken pieces and left for Wakanda looking for a cure. But before he could reach Tony Stark’s device, which would prevent the cancer from spreading, Steve Rogers was intercepted by the sound-manipulating supervillain Klaw (who was played by Andy Serkis in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron). Using his psionic ability, Klaw, instead of absorbing the vibranium’s power for himself, inadvertently cured Cap’s shield, restoring it to full strength.
1. Early Days
As fans of Marvel’s movies will understand, Tony Stark is a curious fellow; so when Captain America awakened in the modern world, Stark saw the perfect opportunity to upgrade the good Captain’s shield. Stark retrofitted the shield with actuators and various electrical components that allowed for the Captain to control the object mid-flight. But, conclusively, he felt that the enhancements threw off the shield’s balance, so he had them removed. However, removing Stark’s upgrades did little to nothing in curbing the scientist’s inquisitive mind.
When Steve Rogers finally returned to duty as Captain America, he brought his trusty shield with him – but the shield proved to be far less impervious than it once was. Now, with almost every mission the Captain went on, the shield would be destroyed. But, with these stories being told in comics, Captain America’s shield would reappear in a future story, undamaged, and just as “impenetrable.” It got to the point that Marvel had to reveal later that, during all those times Captain America’s shield was destroyed, it was because Stark had borrowed the shield for analyzing and had given Rogers temporary replacement shields.
Has Captain America’s shield been broken on any other occasion? Let us know in the comments!