Captain America and his shield are inextricably linked, and they have been since his first appearance in 1940. But despite that, plenty of other folks in the Marvel Universe have held the shield. Some also going by the name Captain America, and plenty of others who just got to touch greatness for a brief moment. “Who wields the shield?” is pretty much the whole premise of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+.
In today’s Nerdist News, Dan Casey goes into detail on the stories of eleven others who have famously used the star spangled vibranium shield. And some of the names on that list might shock even the most diehard “knows as much as the Watcher” Marvelite.
Obviously, you’ve got the two most famous Steve Roger successors, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson. Both men carried the shield in the pages of Marvel Comics for some time. Once when the Steve Rogers Cap was “dead,” and then when Steve had his super soldier serum removed and became grandpa age.
And then there’s John Walker, the temporary Captain America from the ’80s. He replaced Steve for roughly a year (real time, not comic book time). When Steve took his shield back, Walker became the U.S. Agent, and is still around today. Most folks know about these three dudes. But there are lots more where they came from.
William Naslund first went by the name the Spirit of ’76, and first appeared in a What If? story in 1977. After Steve and Bucky seemingly died to the world at large in World War II, the US government offered Naslund the chance to become the first replacement Cap. Sadly, he was only Cap for a short time before he was killed in action.
William Burnside is the one we like to call “psycho stalker” Cap. He grew up obsessing about Steve Rogers, and even had plastic surgery to make himself look like him. He also legally changed his name to Steve Rogers. He’s essentially a retcon explaining away the little-known Captain America stories from the 1950s. He winds up as a villain called the Grand Director, shocking no one, as he was clearly not a well man.
Jeffrey Mace was a Golden Age character who was the original superhero named Patriot. This is decades before Young Avengers‘ Eli Bradley takes the name. After the William Naslund is killed in action, Mace briefly takes the job. He finds a heroic partner named Golden Girl, who was not Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, or Rose. In 1950, he quits superheroing and became a reporter.
In the 2003 series Truth: Red, White and Black, the Marvel Universe’s biggest secret is revealed. Back in World War II, there was a Black Captain America. Isaiah Bradley is one of 300 African-American soldiers used as test subjects for the US government, hoping to recreate Steve Roger’s super soldier formula. But Bradley is the only survivor. He became another Captain America, and fights in the remainder of the war against orders. At least some of this story is informing The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Then, you’ve got your alternate reality and “possible future” Caps. One of them is Danielle Cage, the grown up daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. We first see her in the Cap persona in Avengers: Ultron Forever, which is not what happens when Avengers: Age of Ultron meets Batman: Forever. In the comic book Exiles, Peggy Carter wielded the shield. Something we’ll see her do again in the Disney+ What If? series. In the 30th century, Vance Astro finds Cap’s now-ancient shield, and becomes the heroic Major Victory in the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Marvel Comics / DC Comics
But the most amazing non-Steve Rogers hero to hold the shield in battle? None other than Clark Kent. Yes, Superman held both Cap’s shield and Thor’s hammer in the amazing (and almost impossible to find) JLA/ Avengers. Seriously, that book is a ton of fun for DC and Marvel fans, and if you can find a copy, get one. Even if it’s just for that moment.
Which random character will fight the good fight with Captain America’s shield in the future? Who knows. But if we get to have a vote. we think it might be Squirrel Girl’s time at bat. Stranger things have happened in the Marvel Universe to be sure.
Featured Image: Marvel Comics