Few weapons in Marvel Comics are as iconic as Captain America’s shield. The part vibranium, part steel, and part mystery element shield first appeared in Captain America Comics #2 all the way back in 1941. Since then, the world’s most indestructible frisbee served as the weapon of choice for Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, and many others at one time/reality or another. Countless replicas and technologically enhanced versions have also graced the comic panels, decorating the arms of reformed villains, future Captain Americas, and other heroes throughout the multiverse. And when universes collided, even Superman couldn’t resist the opportunity to use Steve Rogers’ shield.
Some characters’ time with the shield only lasted for a battle, while others carried it with them until they died. Some merely used it to shield themselves during an attack, while others could wield it with a skill that would have put Steve Rogers to shame. Throughout the years, a host of heroes used the shield or a replica of it as a shield, weapon, or even a symbol to rally under. From this assemblage, we found five characters who could handle the shield better than the original Captain America, and ten who weren’t quite up to Cap’s standards.
15. BETTER: DR. DOOM/IRON MAN
With the nearly limitless power at Victor Von Doom’s disposal, he has a bit of an unfair advantage when we’re talking about maneuvering an object like Cap’s shield. Equipped with magic, technology, and expert combat knowledge, we’d be surprised if Dr. Doom couldn’t wield the shield better than the Star-Spangled Avenger.
Victor Von Doom shows his shield-throwing skills are equal to Captain America’s all the way back in Avengers vol. 1 #25. He takes it a step further when he comes to the Avengers’ aid as Iron Man in Avengers vol. 7 #8. To retrieve the Wasp from the Microverse, Doom sends the shield into the Microverse, manages to pinpoint Wasp’s location, and then pulls her out with the shield. Doom certainly didn’t learn that move from Cap.
14. WORSE: CYCLOPS
In an alternate future of the Ultimate universe, an experiment deprives Steve Rogers, Jean Grey and Scott Summers of their powers. Captain America dies after the incident and Cyclops becomes the new Captain America — with some added X-Men flare to the uniform and shield. ” I watched Cap age a hundred years in a minute,” he explains in Ultimate Fantastic Four X-Men Annual #1. “I had to do something. So I took up his mantle.”
Scott Summers’ run as Captain America is short-lived. Thanks to an army of Wolverine-like Sentinels, his first appearance as Cap is also his last. He mainly uses the shield in defense, not in the typical Captain America style. Perhaps we would have seen more shield-slinging action form him if he had lived longer?
13. WORSE: CABLE
With all of Cable’s skills, experience, and technology, what he could he possibly gain from adding Captain America’s shield to his arsenal? Essentially, Cable uses it as inspiration. Via the Infonet, Cable shows Captain America that the shield survives far into the future in Cable & Deadpool #25. In this future, Cable tracks down the shield and uses it to rally fighters against Apocalypse.
As Cable’s main purpose of the shield is more for inspiration on the battlefield, we don’t see anything very impressive while he wields it. As an Omega-Level telekinetic, it’s impossible to think that he couldn’t wield it on at least the same level as Captain America, but it’s not something we end up seeing in the comics. Not that Cable needs it, anyway.
12. BETTER: HAWKEYE
Following the supposed assassination of Steve Rogers, Director Stark tries to fill the vacant Captain America position as possible. 77 S.H.I.E.L.D. agents line up to wield Cap’s legendary weapon, but their efforts only land them in the hospital — or worse.
Only just back from a false death himself, Clint Barton picks up the shield in Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #3. We only see him throw it a few times, but Stark’s reaction to the first demonstration says it all. Hawkeye has instant mastery over the tool, which isn’t too surprising for a guy who never misses his target. “That’s what a marksman does,” he tells Stark. “It’s all about accuracy.” Clint turns down the offer to become Captain America, but not before he shows that he is more than capable of wielding the titular shield.
11. WORSE: WONDER MAN
Mixed in with the Captain Americas, the protegees and the time travelers are a handful of heroes who picked up the shield for a brief moment to ignite a cause or win a battle. Wonder Man falls into this category from his brief fight with the shield in Avengers vol. 1 #166. During a fight with Count Nefaria, Captain America is wounded and unable to fight during the final battle. Cap then gives his shield to Simon Williams to protect him from Nefaria’s laser eyes.
As he had the shield purely for defensive purposes, that’s all Wonder Man used the shield for. His area of expertise is unarmed combat though, so it’s not likely he would have done much shield-throwing in a different combat situation.
10. WORSE: US AGENT
After strong disagreements with the Commission on Superhuman Activities, Steve Rogers turned in his uniform and shield and stepped down as Captain America. In Captain America vol. 1 #333, John Walker, who openly disagreed with how Rogers operated in the role, agreed to become the new Captain America. When the Commission later asked Walker to resign from the role, he continued to fight for the country as US Agent.
While a formidable fighter, handling the shield did not come naturally to Walker. When he first became Captain America, the government brought in Taskmaster to help him learn some of Rogers’ moves. Walker eventually caught on and continued to fight with several different shields after he became US Agent, although he never had the same skill as the original Captain America.
9. BETTER: BUCKY BARNES
In the wake of Steve Rogers’ “death,” Tony Stark received a letter from Captain America. As his final requests, Rogers asked that Stark save Bucky, and that Bucky take on the Captain America mantle. Stark showed the letter to Bucky, who reluctantly agreed and sets out to avenge Steve’s death and to stop the Red Skull.
Even from his first appearance as the Star-Spangled Avenger in Captain America vol. 5 #34, Bucky had unbelievable control of the shield. Thanks to the stabilizers in his bionic arm, his shield throwing powers — ricochets and all — verge on flawless with little effort. While training in-between missions, he had to purposefully focus on understanding the weights and angles involved in the maneuvers, as his arm could work out the mechanics of the moves automatically.
8. WORSE: IAN ROGERS
During his time in Dimension Z, Captain America rescues a child As Captain America’s adopted son, it’d be surprising if Ian Rogers couldn’t throw his father’s shield well. During their time in Dimension Z, Captain America teaches Ian how to use the shield while on the run from Arnim Zoa’s forces. After Captain America returns to his own dimension, Ian acquired the spiked shield from Captain Zolandia and takes the name, Nomad.
While he never became Captain America, Ian demonstrated impressive skill with his father’s shield. During his critique of Sam Wilson’s skill in All-New Captain America #1, he shows all those lessons in Dimension Z were not in vain. While his skills are certainly not greater than his father’s, they do come very close.
7. WORSE: GRAND DIRECTOR
While researching Steve Rogers in the ’50s, William Burnside stumbled upon the formula for the Super Soldier Serum. Burnside brought changed his name to Steve Rogers, underwent plastic surgery to look like Rogers, and became the fourth man to claim the title Captain America. He also gave the serum to his replacement for Bucky. Since he had not been exposed to vita radiation, Burnside’s Super Soldier Serum made him increasingly paranoid and unstable. Eventually, the government placed him in suspended animation.
Rogers crossed shields with the real Captain America on numerous occasions, sometimes as an unstable super soldier, sometimes as the brainwashed villain Grand Director. During Burnside’s time as Captain America, he carried different replicas of Steve Rogers’ shield. He was quite proficient with the tool, although not nearly as skilled as the original Captain America.
6. BETTER: MAJOR VICTORY
In the far-flung 31st century, the original Guardians of the Galaxy set off on a quest to find Captain America’s fabled shield. After competing against the Force in a series tests set up by the Main Frame, the Guardian’s Vance Astro passes the final test and claims the shield in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 1 #6. He later takes the name Major Victory in honor of Captain America. Much like Cap, Major Victory was temporally displaced in ice. He was revived by the Earth-616 Guardians of the Galaxy, and his possession of the shield played a part in forming Star-Lord’s team.
Thanks to his psychokinetic abilities, Major Victory’s shield-wielding skills are quite impressive. While it’s not how Rogers did it back in the day, a shield moved with the mind has limitless potential for accuracy and those signature ricochets.
5. WORSE: MISTY KNIGHT
While Captain America (Sam Wilson) took a brief vacation, Kisty Knight set out to help clear a friend’s name. Her hunt in Captain America: Sam Wilson #16 lead her to the criminal called the Slug, who used LMDs to damage super-powered women’s reputations. Before leaving to confront the Slug, Misty Knight picks up the Captain America’s shield, as Wilson had left it behind.
For not having any previous practice with the shield, Misty Knight does a respectable job. She takes down the Slug’s LMDs with little effort and then uses the shield to keep the Slug from escaping. The shield even ricochets back to her. She might not be up to Steve Rogers’ standards, but as a spur-of-the-moment shield wielder, she does an excellent job.
4. WORSE: SPIRIT OF ’76
Inspired by Captain America’s heroics during WWII, William Nasland donned a red, white, and blue costume to fight for the allies. He took the name Spirit of ’76, and fought alongside Steve Rogers before he disappeared in 1945. In Captain America vol. 1 #215, it is revealed that the President asked Nasland to assume the role of Captain America to cover up Roger’s supposed death. The President gave Nasland a steel replica of the famous shield and appointed Fred Davis as the New Bucky.
Despite the fact that he had no superpowers or enhancements, Naslund passed for Captain America quite well. He learned to mimic Rogers’ shield abilities so well that his moves were nearly indistinguishable from his predecessor’s. While he couldn’t match Steve Rogers’ skill, he came very close.
3. BETTER: DANIELLE CAGE
The daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, Danielle Cage is a formidable warrior with or without a shield. As she inherited some if not all of her parents’ powers, she likes to comment that she doesn’t just throw a shield, she also “is the shield!” Cage serves as the Captain America of 20XX, but she travels the timeline quite frequently to help out different teams of Avengers.
Danielle wields a replica of Captain America’s shield with a few drone-controlled, anti-gravity enhancements. While it’s not impervious to the occasional hack, the added tech makes for easy maneuverability and excellent accuracy. The add-ins also allow her to use the shield like a hoverboard. Not exactly old school shield skill, but it certainly befits the Captain America of 20XX.
2. WORSE: SUPERMAN
During the four-issue Avengers/JLA crossover, the Avengers face-off with and eventually team up with the Justice League to save their respective universes from Krona. During the final battle, Superman at one point holds both Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield. The result was nothing less than spectacular — even Superman is awed by the amount power in his possession.
Superman holding Mjolnir and Cap’s shield at the same is undoubtedly awesome, although the nature of the spectacle is more focused on sheer power than on refined skill. Superman uses the shield a little, but it mostly serves as protection from Krona, which makes sense as the Man of Steel also has Thor’s hammer. Not the most epic display of shield skills, but it is a great moment in comic history, nevertheless.
1. WORSE: SAM WILSON
In a fight with the Iron Nail, Steve Rogers loses the Super Soldier serum. The incident rendered him old and unable to serve as Captain America any longer. He officially passed the title and the shield over to Sam Wilson in Captain America vol. 5 #25. Even after Steve is restored and able to fight again, he let Sam continue to use the shield.
During one of Wilson’s earlier missions with the shield, Steve’s son Ian Rogers was quick to point out that the new Captain America has quite a bit to learn about the tool. Still, Sam Wilson handled the shield well, if not to the degree of his predecessor. With vibranium falcon wings and his connection to birds though, he certainly holds his own on the battlefield.
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