Out of all the characters, gadgets, and other things that make up the world of comic books, none have become a bigger symbol of justice, hope, and all that is good in the world like Captain America’s shield. Over the years, Cap’s shield has taken many shapes and forms but throughout this, the shield has always been Captain America’s symbol, even more so than his costume.
Choosing a weapon that protects, rather than a gun that can kill, says everything we need to know about the super soldier Steve Rogers. The man that will always stand up for the little guy, he will never give up and never surrender. He will always be there when we need him.
The shield itself is always said to be indestructible but that hasn’t stopped many people from trying to break it. Here is a list of 15 characters that have been successful in breaking Cap’s faithful shield. For this list we look across all universes of the comic books, movies, and TV shows.
15. Temporary Replacements
We start our list not with an actual character, but with what has become a bit of a curse within the Marvel universe. Given the fact that Captain America has been kicking bad guy butt for many years now, the comic book writers seem to be running out of ideas for him and their “go-to” story seems to be to take it out on Cap’s shield. As we are all aware of, Cap’s shield is unbreakable and therefore anytime his shield was broken or even dented in any way, was a shocking moment that was great for cliffhanger story telling.
However, in recent years Captain America’s shield has been broken more times than we can count. Across all comic book story arcs and even in the animated TV series, Cap’s shield has been destroyed. The shield would always reappear in future comic book storylines, without even a scratch on it. And how is this possible you might ask? Because every time Cap’s shield was broken or lost it was in fact a replacement and Tony Stark had the original for scientific testing. This clause is wearing a bit thin now!
The next entry on our list may cause a few eyes to roll as many eagle-eyed comic book fans will know that Thor has never technically broken Captain America’s shield by himself. However, there has been a lot of discussion and debate over the years about which is stronger; the might and power of Thor’s Mjolnir or Cap’s trusty and unbreakable shield.
The two have gone toe to toe on many occasions and in many different mediums. In the MCU, Thor put his hammer down on Cap’s shield which resulted in a forest being leveled. But within the pages of the comic books, Thor has come a lot closer to breaking the shield, most notably when Thor became King of Asgard and inherited the power of the Odinforce. With his own might combined with the power of the Odinforce, Thor only managed to dent the shield. Although he didn’t break it, we still think Thor deserves a place on this list as the God of Thunder will no doubt do it one day.
With this entry we now enter the Marvel multiverse. There have been many different Earths and timelines over the years and each one has a different version of our favorite heroes and villains, each with a different outcome and a different future.
In this particular version, the mad and power hungry Hyperion is Emperor of his Earth and rules it with his personal brand of terror. However, the rebels of his Earth try to fight back, which goes disastrously wrong as the human race is wiped out by a nuclear explosion. Hyperion soon finds himself completely alone, but luck comes his way in the form of the dimension-jumping Weapon X team. Taking his chance, Hyperion sets out to conquer and rule every Earth. One man tries to stand in his way and stop his evil plan, and that man is Steve Rogers. Unfortunately it doesn’t go well for Rogers as Hyperion kills him and shatters his shield.
12. Gregory Stark
As with the above entry, there have been many parallel and multidimensional storytelling within the Marvel comic books over the years. There have also been many reboots and retellings of classic characters and their origin stories. Although many may argue that these aren’t – strictly speaking – the main Marvel universe, and therefore shouldn’t be counted on this list, we feel that every universe and every storyline that has been printed by Marvel counts as their universe, it therefore counts for this list.
With this entry we delve into the rebooted Ultimate Marvel Universe. In this story arch, Tony Stark’s story has been rewritten slightly as he now has a brother: Gregory Stark. Gregory turns out to be not as heroic and nice as his brother Tony, as he starts a civil war between The Avengers and The Ultimates. Eventually, The Avengers stop the war and confront Gregory Stark, however, Gregory gets in there first and destroys Captain America’s shield before he is stopped by his brother Tony.
11. Molecule Man
Molecule Man is a villain that many fans might not be aware of, which is a shame as his power and skill made him a very worthy villain to battle The Avengers. As you might guess, Molecule Man’s power is to control and change molecules, which is pretty much everything in existence. With this awesome power, Molecule Man could be considered one of the most powerful beings around.
He demonstrated this when confronted by The Avengers in the story arc All The Ways of Power. Facing off against Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and The Silver Surfer, Molecule Man quickly and easily disintegrated all their weapons. Considering Thor’s hammer, The Silver Surfer’s board, and Cap’s shield are supposed to be some of the most powerful objects in the universe, this shows just how powerful Molecule Man can be. Unfortunately for this character, he got a bit of a lame ending, as The Avengers eventually stopped him and Molecule Man agreed to reassemble all of their weapons.
10. Doctor Doom
Doctor Doom has masterminded many plots and schemes over the years. Particularly against The Fantastic Four and The Avengers. With his superior intellect and an arsenal of power, Doom has caused many problems for the heroes of the Marvel universe. One of the biggest storylines that Doom was involved in was in the crossover arch Secret Wars.
In this story, Doom tricks the god-like entity The Beyonder and takes his power. The Beyonder had already transported most of the Marvel heroes to a planet known as Battleworld – a planet in which The Beyonder put the heroes in order for them to battle each other – just for his amusement. After Doom had stolen The Beyonder’s powers, he destroyed the remaining heroes with only Captain America’s shield lying on the ground, broken.
9. King Thor
Thor may already have an entry on this list, an entry in which he only managed to dent the shield, however, for this entry we cross back over to a different timeline and version of our heroes. In this timeline, Thor’s father, Odin, dies and Thor becomes king of Asgard. With his newfound responsibilities and powers, Thor inherits the Odinforce as well as some powerful Rune magic, which made Thor a true, unstoppable god.
All this power goes to King Thor’s head and he soon finds himself being more involved in the lives of humans. This includes moving Asgard closer to Earth and basically trying to rule them. The Avengers don’t take too kindly to their former friend’s new outlook on life and go to confront him, which not only ends with the destruction of Captain America’s shield but also with the end of Cap himself. All ends well though, as King Thor has a change of heart and goes back in time to erase the events of this timeline.
Speaking of the Asgardian prince, we now come to his brother and the god of mischief, Loki. Not just content in being a thorn in Thor’s side, Loki has also taken his anger out on most of the galaxy. Either trying to rule it or trying to get us to wipe each other out, Loki wants nothing more than to be the king of the mountain.
Within the comic books, Loki has never managed to even mark Captain America’s shield let alone break it. But for this entry we step outside the pages of the comic books and into the world of the animated TV show Avengers: World’s Mightiest Heroes. In the episode “The Fall of Asgard,” Loki tries to take over Asgard but The Avengers go to stop him. But with the power of the Odinforce, Loki zaps Captain America’s shield and it shatters into pieces. Later, Cap would fix his shield with the help of Black Panther, but for that moment Cap was left defenseless.
Another trip into an alternative timeline with this entry, and similar to the X-Men movies, the timelines of the mutant world has had many reboots and variations. In this timeline the president of America hates the mutant population and wants to wipe them out. Using the Sentinel robots, which have the power to adapt and change their weaponry depending on which mutant they’re fighting, they were sent to wipe out the mutant race. Which they did.
After the extinction of the mutants, the heroes that were still left wanted to avenge the fallen mutants. Captain America took it up to himself to lead the charge on the Sentinels but unfortunately for him, he never stood a chance against the super-powered robots. Captain America was quickly killed and all that was left was his shield lying on the ground with a chunk missing from it.
6. The Mutant Wars
The Weapon X team has already been featured on this list as they accidentally led Hyperion through the dimensions and he tried to rule all the worlds, which resulted in Captain America’s shield being damaged. However, before all of that, Weapon X traveled the multiverse in order to help it. In one such world there was a very different version of Tony Stark. In this reality, Stark manages to become emperor of the world and the power goes to his head and corrupts him. Ruling the world as its dictator, Weapon X give this reality the nickname Earth-Iron Doom.
This world has many wars as rebels try to stop Stark’s iron fist on the world. One of those wars was the mutant war led by freedom fighter Magneto. Along with the Inhumans, the mutant rebellion rises up against Stark and stop him. However, this wasn’t before Captain America’s shield was broken and then melted through. It’s never made clear which mutant was responsible for breaking Cap’s shield but the mutant wars certainly took its toll on the super solider.
5. The Serpent
As you will see from this list, many people and beings in many different realities and timelines have tried to break Captain America’s shield, but none have been more effective or have done it with as much ease as Serpent.
Serpent is the brother of Asgardian King Odin but was sentenced to an underwater prison because he was evil. In the crossover event series Fear Itself, Serpent is freed from his prison and wants what he thinks is rightfully his and that’s the throne of Asgard. So Serpent sets about getting revenge on his brother and he takes out a few heroes along the way. The Avengers set their sights on Asgard in order to stop Serpent, and when Captain America confronts him, he does what he does best and lets him taste his shield. Unfortunately for Cap, Serpent catches the shield with ease and then snaps it in two with his bare hands. After they defeat Serpent, the Asgardian blacksmiths get to work on fixing Captain America’s shield, but it is left with a permanent scar.
In more recent comic book storylines, there hasn’t been a more daunting or powerful image as the one of Captain America’s broken, defeated body sitting by his broken shield. This is what we were faced with in the comic book story arc Age of Ultron.
Unlike the movie which was based on this limited series story – a movie that disappointedly left a lot of the death and destruction out and instead focused on the more “kid-friendly” approach – Ultron raised hell as many of the Marvel heroes were battered, beaten, and even killed. The remaining heroes fled into hiding and all we are left with is Steve Rogers defeated. It’s never actually shown that Ultron himself was the one to break Cap’s shield but in this storyline, no one else would be strong enough to break it.
3. Shield Cancer
Out of all the characters that have tried to break Captain America’s shield, there was one thing that he couldn’t have predicted: shield cancer. That’s right, Captain America’s shield was once sick! After the events of the Secret Wars story arc in which Doctor Doom stole The Beyonder’s powers and destroyed Cap’s shield, Captain America managed to use those same powers to fix his shield after Doom was beaten. However, he did it wrong and put the shield back together the wrong way. This resulted in the vibranium within the shield to catch a form of cancer and it spread across the entire shield.
Knowing that Black Panther was an expert in all things vibranium, Cap headed out to Wakanda but was intercepted by the villain Klaw. Using his psionic power, Klaw attempted to absorb the power of vibranium, but instead absorbed the cancer and accidentally cured Cap’s shield.
With our number two entry, we once again cross over into a different timeline and universe. The crossovers and alternate versions have not always been good to Steve Rogers, and many people have gotten the better of Captain America and his shield. This reality is no different.
In this version of reality, Namora is an alternate version of Namor the submariner, and not his cousin. Being a mutant, Namora is convinced by Professor X to not attack the surface world and instead to live in peace and harmony with them, which she did. That is until the mutants started to become imprisoned. Namora wasn’t impressed by this and decided to attack the surface people and become their ruler. The heroes of the world didn’t like Namora’s new lust for power and decided to stop her. Unfortunately for them, the Atlantean easily defeated them, killing many of them in the process. She even managed to chip Captain America’s shield.
Number one on our list goes to the mad, bad titan himself, Thanos. During The Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, Thanos gets hold of the Infinity Gauntlet and all the Infinity stones. With one swift snap of his fingers, Thanos flexes his might and wipes out half of the universe. With Thanos hell bent on destroying the rest of the universe, a few heroes, led by Adam Warlock, go to stop the titan. This doesn’t go well as the heroes are swiftly and easily taken out.
Captain America is left standing and in a last ditch effort he goes face to face with Thanos. As you might expect, Captain America doesn’t last long and Thanos easily shatters Cap’s shield into pieces.
With the next stage of the MCU under way and many hints at both the Infinity stones and Thanos in the movies, we can expect a big showdown in The Avengers: Infinity Wars. Maybe we could well see the end of both Captain America and his shield.