The MCU’s core Avengers don’t necessarily have conventional weapons. Not a lot of superheroes are armed with a bow and arrow or a hammer – or a shield. Shields are typically a defense tool, and aren’t used to attack, yet a shield is all Captain America has.
Still, it’s important to remember that this is a very special shield. He doesn’t just use it to block attacks; he can frisbee it at assailants or use it to wedge doors open as they slide shut. There’s a lot of interesting backstory behind the shield. So, here are 10 Questions About Captain America’s Shield, Answered.
10 What is the shield made of?
Captain America’s shield is made from a combination of vibranium and steel alloy (in the MCU, it’s just vibranium). Remember that vibranium is the incredibly rare and powerful metal that Wakanda is built on a mountain of. They’ve hidden this mountain of vibranium from the outside world and disguised themselves as a third-world country.
Most of the world’s vibranium can be found in Wakanda, powering the Black Panther suit and all of the country’s incredible high-tech inventions and scientific advancements, but there is some vibranium to be found elsewhere. Enough was discovered by the U.S. government to blend with a steel alloy and create Cap’s shield.
9 Why does it bounce?
One thing a lot of audiences have noticed about Cap’s shield is that it bounces. Whatever he throws the shield at, it just bounces off it. Sometimes it’ll even bounce around like a pinball, ricocheting from wall to wall as it plows through a room full of bad guys. The bouncing has confused some fans, who don’t believe that a metal disc should be as bouncy as that.
However, this is another one that can be explained by the fictional metal it’s made of. The vibranium-steel alloy that Cap’s shield is made out of lets it reverberate and continue to bounce from place to place as long as it keeps getting hit on the side.
8 Why does Cap’s shield return to him?
When Captain America tosses his shield around the place, bouncing it off of walls and knocking down his opponents with it, it always returns to him. It’ll bob around like a pinball and then bounce right back into his hand. This isn’t due to a magnetic device in the palm of his glove or anything like that.
It’s simply down to Cap’s training, and the fact that the super-soldier serum improved his reflexes. He’s mastered the use of that shield to the point that he can angle it just right so that it’ll always come back to him. He can do this at a moment’s notice and still make it look completely effortless, but that’s still all down to rigorous training and dedication.
7 How is Cap able to fall several stories and land on the shield without a scratch?
There’s a scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier in which Cap jumps out of a high-level window of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s compromised headquarters, falls several stories, and lands on the sidewalk without sustaining a single injury. All he does is land on the shield, which is made of metal, so you’d think that would kill him.
In this case, the science has been explained and we’re not just expected to suspend our disbelief. The shield has been designed to absorb all the kinetic energy from falls like that, preventing Cap from ever having to feel the impact of a fall himself.
6 Why does the shield’s strength seem to fluctuate so much?
The exact strength of Captain America’s shield seems to change from scene to scene, sometimes even within the same movie. In Captain America: Civil War, we see the shield bounce off cops in one scene and smash through a concrete wall in another. So, why is the strength of the shield so inconsistent?
We have to put this down simply to the comic book laws of physics. In a PG-13 superhero movie that a lot of kids are watching, you can’t have a metal disc cutting human beings in half. It would be too gory. Walls are fine – destroy all the walls you want – but not people.
5 Why did Captain America ditch his shield in Civil War?
At the end of Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark tells Steve Rogers that he doesn’t deserve his shield, since he kept his knowledge of the Winter Soldier killing Tony’s parents from him. After that, he decides to ditch the shield and leave it (and a lot of things) behind him.
While he’s hiding out in Wakanda, T’Challa and Shuri get to work on two new vibranium shields for him, ones that retract at will, and that’s why we see him fighting with a pair of new shields in Avengers: Infinity War. It happened not too long after T’Challa declared, “Get this man a shield!”
4 Why did Cap have a triangular shield in World War II?
A lot of fans were disappointed that Cap didn’t use his circular shield for most of Captain America: The First Avenger. Instead, he was armed with a triangular shield and didn’t get to really use the disc-shaped one we know today until he was thawed out in the present day, like he does in the MCU.
This actually dates back to the character’s origins in the comics. Back when Marvel Comics was known as Timely Comics, Cap was armed with a triangular shield. He would’ve kept it, too, if rival comics publisher MLJ hadn’t complained that its design was too similar to their own all-American character the Shield’s, um, shield. The triangular shield is a medieval style of shield known as a heater-shaped shield.
3 How did Captain America’s shield deflect Thor’s hammer?
In Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, the first meeting of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor comes in the form of a fight. As Thor’s clash with Iron Man angers him, he takes a swing at Cap with his hammer Mjolnir. Cap raises his shield to protect himself, and as Thor’s hammer collides with the shield, the impact is deflected and he’s sent flying back.
Now, if the shield had been made of anything except vibranium, Steve Rogers would’ve been toast. Fortunately, as we’ve covered, vibranium absorbs the kinetic energy from any impact to protect Cap from taking the hit, and deflects it back outwards, hence Thor’s fall.
2 Who created Captain America’s shield?
According to an MCU tie-in comic, Captain America’s shield was created by Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s father. In the first Iron Man movie, we see a partial replica of Cap’s shield in Tony’s workshop as he’s putting together his own armor.
This suggested (ever so subtly, since Howard Stark’s involvement in Cap’s origin and Cap himself hadn’t been portrayed in the MCU yet) that Tony’s father’s work on Cap’s shield actually influenced his own work on the Iron Man armor. Obviously, a big team was put to work on the shield, but Howard Stark was the mastermind behind it all.
1 Does the shield absorb or reflect energy?
Well, both. Kind of. We’ve seen a few examples of evidence that Cap’s shield can both absorb energy and reflect it. In The First Avenger, we’re told that it absorbs energy, and when Steve survives the fall in The Winter Soldier thanks to his shield, it confirms it.
However, in the first Avengers movie, Cap is shown deflecting the energy of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir with his shield and using it to bounce Iron Man’s repulsor blasts at the Chitauri as they try to invade Earth. This seems to create plot holes, but why does it have to just be one? Why can’t it both absorb and reflect?