Captain America’s shield is an important part of his identity, and a universal symbol of freedom and a reminder of the American way.
However, in the nearly 80-year-long-history of Cap and his famous shield, there have been many obstacles and changes that both have faced. These have been due to new writers as well as because of experimental changes. However, overall, they have only
added to the darker side of Marvel that many fans are clueless about.
The shield itself has served many purposes, some of which have been much crazier than many fans would imagine. This includes its reinvention by the Nazis, its role as a fatal weapon, and the time it bizarrely acted as a makeshift urn.
It has also been the victim of countless redesigns and has been destroyed more times than even most true fans can count.
By this point, the shield has become such a large part of the Marvel universe. In fact, it has become so popular that it occasionally overshadows the hero who bears it.
With that said, here are the 15 Crazy Secrets About Captain America’s Shield.
15 It is (most likely) made of stolen vibranium
Cap’s shield is famously made up of Steel alloy, an unknown second element, and vibranium.
The vibranium that is found within the shield is a material that many believe was ravaged from Black Panther’s home in Wakanda.
Of course there are various theories that could reject this. One such theory is that it coooould have been sourced from the 10,000 year-old vibranium meteorite that crash landed in Antarctica.
It could also be that Myron MacLain, the shield’s creator, simply bought the substance from T’Chaka himself. T’Chaka was known to have sold small chunks of vibranium in a bid to fund his country.
However, the shield we know and love was most likely built using vibranium from Wakanda. Whether this was stolen or purchased, we may never know, but it adds another layer of mystery to the shield.
14 It was the victim of ‘vibranium cancer’
While most of the people who have destroyed Cap's shield have been enemies of the hero who have tore it in half, in this instance, it suffered a more peculiar fate.
In Captain America Vol 3 #21, the shield suffers from a precise and dangerous disease known as "vibranium cancer."
This cancer damages the core materials of the shield and also threatens to destroy all of the Wakandan vibranium on Earth. It is important to note that the shield was a necessary sacrifice in order to save this remaining vibranium.
Tony Stark was luckily able to halt the spreading cancer before it contaminated all of the vibranium, preventing the disease from potentially destroyed the world.
This case is probably one of the most bizarre plot points ever to be featured in a Captain America comic, as it seemed crazy-- even for the Avengers.
13 The original had to be changed to avoid a lawsuit
Cap’s famous disc-shaped shield has persevered throughout popular culture as both an iconic superhero weapon and as a symbol of resilience.
However, the original shield was almost a different shape altogether.
The original medieval shield that Cap used was forced to change its shape after just a few issues. The reason was because it was deemed too similar to the design of another superhero called The Shield from MLJ Publications.
With no other choice, Jack Kirby was forced to redesign the shape, creating the popular shield we know and love today.
If it had not been for the threat of a lawsuit from MLJ Publications, we would not have the discus-like shield that has served Captain America through nearly 80 years of comics, which is a terrifying thought.
12 It acted as a makeshift urn
The use of Cap’s shield as a makeshift urn may go down as one of the bleakest storylines about a superhero’s weapon. Admittedly, this is a very niche category.
When Rick Jones, who was a friend of many Marvel heroes, unfortunately met his end, he had the strange honour of having his ashes stored in Captain America's shield.
In Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect Vol 1 #1, what was left of Jones was bagged up and glued to the inside of Cap's shield. If being stored inside Captain America’s shield wasn’t enough, the Hulk proceeded to throw the shield into space.
It does give Rick Jones a rather fitting end, however, as he wished to travel the stars and explore the universe. He can now, even if he’s travelling towards these stars at a terrifying speed thanks to Hulk’s strong throw.
11 It helped permanently glue Baron Zemo’s hood to his head
Avengers Vol 1 #16 saw Cap (bizarrely) use his shield to knock some glue onto Baron Zemo’s head. This precise and unusual act resulted in Zemo's head becoming permanently -- and painfully -- glued to his hood.
Similar to Cap’s archenemy Red Skull, Zemo is a devout Nazi, so he definitely deserved this specific punishment. Unfortunately for him, though, it also meant that he had to go around with a pink hood stuck to his head, which was probably quite embarrassing.
However, one darker interpretation of Cap’s actions is that he wanted the glue to land over Zemo’s face instead.
This could be interpreted as Cap attempting to stop him breathing entirely by blocking his pores and nostrils. If this is the case, it shows him as a man who wanted to suffocate Zemo until he passed away.
10 Steve Rogers swapped it for a cape
If Edna Mode from The Incredibles has taught us anything about superhero suits it's that there should be a no capes rule.
However, Steve Rogers must have missed the memo from Edna that particular day. Rogers abandoned his shield for a cape in Captain America Vol 1 #180, when he embraced the guise of "Nomad."
Many found this rejection of his Captain America suit and shield to be a shocking move.
Even Rogers was among those struggling with this sudden change. One of the biggest problems he had with his Nomad persona was its cape, which he tripped over occasionally.
One can only imagine what Edna Mode would have said if she had been in the same room.
Only a matter of issues later, to the relief of many, he decided to embrace his old Captain America identity again.
9 It briefly had a logo he didn't want on it
Captain America was first introduced during World War II, so it is no surprise that he has battled the Nazis. However, in Captain America Vol 1 #234, Cap is brainwashed by the dastardly Third Reich and forced to obey their orders.
After the Nazis interrupt a TV show with some particularly strong propaganda, the issue ends with Captain America proudly holding up his shield with a swastika replacing the familiar star in the middle.
Daredevil, in an attempt to save Cap from the Nazis's spell, tries to beat some sense into the possessed man.
During the fight between the two former allies, it is revealed that the swastika is just a symbol that has been painted on the shield.
As the horrific symbol slowly melts away, Cap comes to his senses and is eventually able to save the day.
8 It played a role in helping someone take their life
There is one fact about Captain America’s shield that many fans don't know: it played a part in helping someone take their own life.
The person was the villain known as Machinesmith.
When Machinesmith’s mind was transferred into an android body, he yearned for an escape from this limited existence.
He managed to trick Captain America into helping him achieve this by disguising himself as a computer. While Cap believed that destroying the computer with his shield would limit Machinesmith to just a single body, he actually ended the life of the supervillain.
This is not the only time that Cap’s shield has ended a life, but this may be the only occurrence where he has unwillingly aided an enemy in their demise.
7 The Serpent broke it in half with his bare hands
The Serpent is one of the many villains who has destroyed Cap’s supposedly indestructible shield. However, The Serpent stands out above the others because it made the shield look at its most vulnerable.
The Serpent, who appeared in Fear Itself, managed to break Cap’s shield in half as easily as if it were a twig.
However, Cap managed to fix his shield (as he always does) with the help of Asgardian dwarves and Iron Man himself.
Stark even claimed that they had supposedly helped strengthen it, which would prevent this from happening in the future. However, it has broken in other comics since, so they obviously didn’t do a great job…
One permanent feature that Serpent did manage to leave, however, was a scar running through the middle of the shief. Cap declined to have this blemish fixed, stating that it gave “the old girl a little bit of character.”
6 Cap used it to end the life of Black Widow
Secret Empire features the most tragic act committed by Cap’s shield. In the story, a brainwashed Rogers turns on his fellow Avengers and gives them an intense beating.
Many lives are lost, but the most notable casualty is Cap's good friend Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), who is impaled by Cap’s shield.
Even though he was under Hydra’s influence, Cap was still responsible for the demise of one of his closest friends.
Just to emphasize the exactly what Cap's shield is capable of, Secret Empire even included an extremely detailed X-ray of the shield penetrating Black Widow’s neck.
The repercussions of this horrific act were felt throughout the Avengers. This was most notable during Widow’s funeral, which saw Hawkeye break down to the point that he had to be escorted out by Logan.
5 It was destroyed by Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet
In the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries from the 1990s, Thanos used the Infinity Gauntlet to shatter Cap’s shield with his fist. This was by no means the first or last time that the shield had been destroyed in its long history. However, no destruction of the shield has been as horrifying.
Whether or not we will see this dramatic destruction of Cap’s shield in Avengers 4 remains a mystery.
However, the shattering of the shield seems to symbolize more than just the failing of one of America’s greatest superheroes. The breaking of what is essentially a section of the American flag could represent the demise of American values.
It could also show how Captain America is just a human. Though he has enhanced abilities, he's not always able to stand up for the very country he represents.
4 Another Captain America used it on a violent rampage
While many believe that Rogers is the only incarnation of Captain America who donned the iconic shield, they are wrong.
Rogers has resigned various times throughout the history of the Captain America comics. However, after one such retirement, he was replaced by John Walker.
Walker may have used the name "Captain America" and donned the shield, but he never managed to get to grips with it. He was unable to capture the values and morals of the identity like Rogers did.
The pressure to live up to the beloved previous Cap drove him insane, and he ended up going on a horrific rampage with the shield.
This led to him ending the lives of the Watchdogs, who had been guilty of his parents’ demise.
Walker was ultimately stripped of the shield and costume, which were rightfully returned to Steve Rogers.
3 Steve Rogers was buried with a replica of it
In The Death of Captain America, Rogers is dramatically assassinated by Sharon Carter. In her defence, she had been brainwashed by Cap’s sworn arch nemesis, the Red Skull.
As expected, Cap is buried with his shield in a moving funeral where all of his fellow Avengers pay their respects. However, Rogers is not buried with his original trusted shield, and is instead buried with a replica.
At first glance, it seems strange to deny him from being reunited with his infamous shield upon his demise. However, it makes sense, as his original shield is given to Bucky Barnes, who eventually becomes the new Captain America.
Fittingly, Tony Stark placed another replica of Cap’s shield in the Captain America Museum too.
2 An enraged Thor managed to scratch it… only to repair it later
Captain America’s shield is normally able to withstand the force of Hulk’s strength or the power of Thor’s hammer. However, in Avengers Vol. 3, an enraged Thor managed to scrape the shield.
While creating such a tiny scratch may seem insignificant, Thor's hammer had previously been unable to harm the vibranium-coated shield.
This is one of the only times that Cap’s shield is damaged by one of his trusted allies.
Ultimately, Thor did make sure to repair his allies’ shield as a gesture of goodwill. Whether Captain America ever forgave Thor is up for debate among the fans, however.
Considering how both of the Avengers are extremely reliant on their weapons, both recognize the danger of damaging their shield and hammer. This means that Thor was probably feeling a bit guilty after.
1 It was melted by both Magneto and the Living Laser
Many villains (as well as the occasional ally) have destroyed Cap's supposedly indestructible vibranium shield. Even X-Men villain Magneto had a hand in destroying the weapon.
Both Magneto and the Living Laser damaged Cap's shield on separate occasions.
In Avengers #35, Cap was forced to use his shield to block the Living Laser’s powerful laser trap against the Avengers. Sadly, his shield was instantly turned to dust by the laser.
Similarly, in Exiles Vol 1 #23, we witnessed the devastating aftermath of the Mutant Wars, which created massive casualties on both sides. This is most evident from Cap's shield, which is shown with a hole going straight through it.
The Living Laser and Magneto are shown as powerful villains. In fact, they are powerful enough to render Captain America’s shield completely useless. However they never manage to properly stop it from returning.
Can you think of any other secrets about Captain America's shield? Let us know in the comments!