Captain America: origins and history of the Shield

Captain America: origins and history of the Shield

Captain America

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, the new Disney + series dedicated to the two Marvel heroes, with the second episode, The Man with the Stars and Stripes, immediately clarified the reason for the disagreements between the protagonists: Captain America's Shield. In The New World Order, in fact, we witnessed a moving celebration in honor of Steve Rogers, the occasion in which Sam Wilson hands over to the government the Shield that the elderly Cap had bequeathed to him at the end of Avengers: Endgame. A decision that has received the opposition of Bucky Barnes and that has allowed to appoint a successor to the role of Sentinel of Freedom, John Walker. But why is the Shield so important? Since his first appearance in the comics in the Golden Age of comics, Captain America has gone into battle using a shield as his signature. What started out as a graphic and functional feature soon became an integral part of the character, inextricably linked to the symbolic value of Cap.

The birth of Captain America's Shield

Alla prima appearance on newsstands, which took place in the 40s, Captain America had been inserted within famous patriotically themed heroes, characters who represented the American social ideology regarding the descent to war in the Second World War. To characterize these heroes was not only a soul that was as much as possible aligned with the American Way, but also a vision that also graphically reflected this intent. When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby presented their Captain America to Timely Comics, they marked the character design in this direction, giving his uniform the national colors and equipping it with a particular weapon: a shield.

Contrary to many other heroes who usually start with their heads held high in clashes and show off a rather marked violence, Captain America used his shield as a defensive tool, using it more as a symbol than a weapon. For two issues, this distinctive trait remained unchanged, until its incredible success led another publishing house, MJL, to recognize in this detail of the Timely Comics character too marked resemblance to its flagship hero: The Shield.

Released well before the hero of Simon and Kirby, The Shield was distinguished by a triangular shield, a shape that had also been taken from that of Captain America, a similarity that gave rise to an understandable dispute by the MJL. To overcome this problem, in the third issue of Captain America it was decided to run for cover.

It was decided to create a new version of Captain America's shield, to be shown within a short story that performed only this function. A young writer from the publishing house was hired, Stanley Lieber (the future Stan Lee), who in the story Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge introduces the round shape of Cap's shield that we now associate with the character.

Winning choice, which allowed the character to be able to use his weapon in a more varied and spectacular way. The roundness of the shield, in fact, allowed it to be thrown and to follow parables and trajectories otherwise incredible for a triangular instrument. Thanks to this revolution, Captain America obtained his infallible weapon, which over the years, especially after his return to the Silver Age, became his most recognizable aspect.

In the comics, history teaches us that the Cap's new shield is made of a very rare material, vibranium, an alloy that can only be found in the remote African country of Wakanda, a mysterious land defended by a hero known as the Black Panther. The rarity of this mineral has made Captain America's Shield a historical unicum, which was donated to the Sentinel of Liberty by none other than President Roosevelt himself. Reproducing the mineral that makes up Captain America's Shield was one of the great efforts of American war science, which only managed to partially recreate its qualities with a synthetic mineral: adamantium, the indestructible substance that covers Wolverine's bones.

The importance of Captain America's Shield

But why is Captain America's Shield so important? To understand it, it would be enough to think about how the figure of Cap is itself a symbol. Ideally born as a hero symbol of the American sentiment for war, with his return to the Marvel Universe during the rebirth of heroes in the Silver Age, Cap loses his aura of a war hero to become the means by which to analyze the new American mentality, daughter of the troubled second half of the 20th century in which Steve Rogers interprets the authentic side of the American Dream.

A vision that leads him to no longer be that 'state' symbol known in the Golden Age, making him an authentic interpreter of values ​​that were human before political. From idol to authentic hero, but with a fracture that even separates Steve Rogers from Captain America. And it is not just a matter of taking off a uniform, but also of supporting what for everyone is one of the symbols of Cap: the shield. When at the end of the saga that sees him opposing the Secret Empire, a story inspired by the Watergate scandal, Steve Rogers abandons the role that he feels is no longer close to his feelings, the Shield also ends up on the ground, ready to be picked up by others who will bring forward the myth of Captain America.

The Marvel Cinematic Univers also identifies the Shield with Captain America, making it an indivisible whole. Inside the MCU, Cap's quintessential weapon was created by Howard Stark, Tony's father, during World War II (Captain America: The First Avenger). Even within this long narrative context, viewers are pushed to identify the shield with the figure of Captain America, it becomes its most identifying trait, to the point that when the rift between Rogers and Iron Man is created, the first thing that Testa di Tatta reminds him that the 'rebel' Cap is no longer worthy of the Shield. In this, we see a first separation between Role and symbol between vision and meaning.

Rogers is ready to leave his role, unable to reconcile what is imposed on him with what he believes in, also abandoning his role. Shield. A choice that will then be overturned when Stark, in Avengers: Endgame, chooses to give Rogers his shield, a clear gesture: there cannot be a Captain, without a Shield. And there can be no other Cap but Rogers. Or so Stark thought, a belief that after the last events of the Infinity War was put to the test when Rogers himself hands the Shield to Sam Wilson to take his place as Captain America.

But how we know seeing The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, the shield has once again become a symbol subservient to the logic of propaganda, given the appointment as new Captain America of John Walker, to the chagrin of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, who must accept that it is a stranger now wielding the shield of the Sentinel of Liberty.

You can learn about the myth of Steve Rogers by reading the volume I am Captain America.

Powered by Blogger.