As the Super Bowl comes to an end it's time to look back and take stock of what we've been given: a disappointing halftime show, tons of fun commercials, indigestion, and of course a brand new look at Marvel's big summer event movie, Avengers: Infinity War! There was a lot to pick apart from the new glimpse we got during the big game, but I'm here to delve into (Sexy Beard) Cap's radical new Wakandan shield! The shield was previously revealed in the latest Marvel Legends toy line, but we got our first proper IRL look during the yearly celebration of Superb Owls.
We last saw Steve Rogers relinquishing his iconic American flag-themed shield to Tony Stark after their monumental bust-up at the end of Captain America: Civil War. This was a symbolic moment for Cap as his shield was not only an iconic part of his identity but also a physical representation of his connection to Stark, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the government for which he died and was resurrected. Giving up his shield was a representation of Steve finally gaining the freedom he'd never truly had since signing up for the super-soldier trial in 1941.
Nearly two years later, Steve's still where we left him at the end of Civil War, chilling in Wakanda and waiting for his boo Bucky to wake up from cryogenic slumber. Back in the first Infinity War trailer, we heard T'Challa say, "Get that man a shield." And when the king requests something, the king gets it! During Sunday night's Super Bowl trailer, we got our first live-action look at Steve's new mysterious shield. It appears to be a gauntlet-style contraption that materializes from the right arm of his suit.
Cap's newest piece of tech reflects his surroundings, apparently made of vibranium—the same rare naturally occurring meteoric ore that Black Panther's suit is made of—which derives from the African nation. And according to the recent reveal that Shuri is the tech genius behind her brother's superhero gadgetry, it's pretty safe to say that Cap's new gauntlet shield was invented by the Princess of Wakanda herself.
Certain segments of fandom were unhappy with what they perceived as a radical move away from tradition, but there's actually canon history of Cap having a vibranium shield. When Captain America was introduced, little was known about his shield. But over the years many have written about its fantastic strength. In 1967, it was first mentioned that the shield seemed to be composed of alien metal. In 1985, the full history of the iconic circular shield was revealed in Captain America #304 by Mike Carlin and Paul Neary.
The flashback focused on Dr. Myron MacLain, who was attempting to create a super strong metal for government use in WWII. He had somehow come across the exotic Wakandan metal and ultimately utilized it in creating the super strong alloy that makes up the Super Soldier's super shield. It's revealed that the creation of the alloy was actually an accident, as the vibranium bonded on its own with an steel alloy while the scientist slept, meaning that he could never truly replicate it. However, later on during his attempt to recreate the super alloy, MacLain ended up creating adamantium, the metal that coats Wolverine's bones.
As is the way with comics, this origin has shifted and changed throughout Cap's 77-year history, with multiple origins offered for the classic circular incarnation. The most important fact to note is that a vibranium shield has been canon in the comics for over 30 years. One of the biggest complaints about Steve's newest cinematic addition was the shape, vastly different from the dynamic discus we know and love. This new shield represents a more classic nod to shields of old, most obviously medieval knights. Once again, this is actually straight from the pages of the classic Marvel comics. In fact, on the front cover of his very first appearance you can see a more triangular shield as imagined by Jack Kirby himself.
So even though this might be a new look for Captain America in the MCU, it's steeped in the history of the comics and fits perfectly into where Steve is right now. He's freed himself from the tyranny of the government that tested and tortured him, that used and abused him. He got rid of the symbol of imperialism that he held by his side for decades, as he found himself fighting for causes he slowly lost belief in. And now he stands beside a sovereign nation, one he respects and most importantly chooses to ally himself with, and Wakanda believes in him enough to share their technology with.
Did you learn something new about vibranium? Are you excited to explore Wakanda? Just happy to see Beard Cap back in action? Let us know in the comments!
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