• Total Nerd

Every Time Someone Has Broken Captain America's "Unbreakable" Shield

Steve Rogers’s vibranium/steel/adamantium buckler is supposedly as unbreakable as it is iconic and inspiring, but if that were really true, there probably wouldn’t be a laundry list of all those who have broken Captain America’s shield. Alas, Cap’s shield is probably better described as nigh-indestructible, and, unfortunately, he lives in a universe in which the nigh-impossible is accomplished on a daily basis.

When one makes a habit of going up against the most powerful supervillains in existence, one runs the risk of suffering great personal damage, and Cap’s shield has borne the brunt of that on countless occasions. The shield may have been shattered exactly once in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s been cracked, broken, or melted more than a dozen times in the pages of Marvel Comics - only to bounce back better than ever each time. 

In the Marvel Universe, even inanimate objects don’t stay dead for long.

  • The Living Laser Melted It Way Back In 'Avengers' #35

    When: Avengers #35 (1966)

    Who: Back in the day, Arthur Parks was just a run-of-the-mill supervillain with an affinity for lasers, motivated primarily by his unrequited love for the Wasp. In time, he’d see his body transformed into a literal “Living Laser,” but only after he’d been soundly defeated by the Avengers a time or two.

    How: The Living Laser went to fight the Avengers in an ill-fated attempt to woo the Wasp. Part of his scheme involved trapping both Captain America and Hawkeye in a laser field with a shrinking radius. Seconds after noting that his shield might protect them, Cap and Hawkeye stared in horror as said shield disintegrated. Fortunately, Goliath was on the scene shortly thereafter to rescue them.

    This incident was early enough in Avengers history that Cap’s shield had yet to be established as indestructible. When that trait was given to it several issues later, the laser-melting was explained away in classic comic book fashion: Tony Stark had simply borrowed the real shield that day, and Steve Rogers was operating with a steel replica. 

  • The Molecule Man Disintegrated Cap’s Shield At The Same Time As Thor’s Hammer, Iron Man’s Armor, And The Silver Surfer’s Board

    When: Avengers #215 (1982)

    Who: Despite his nebbish appearance, Owen Reece is one of the most powerful beings to ever exist within the Marvel Universe. Granted the ability to influence any and all molecules of matter and energy, the Molecule Man can pretty much do anything he puts his mind to - including, eventually, the restoration of the entire Marvel Multiverse from scratch.

    How: With it having been a while since his last appearance, the Molecule Man had to re-establish himself as a true threat when he took on an expanded Avengers roster - and he did so in about as dramatic a fashion as one could imagine. With a wave of his hands, Reece destroyed Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer, Iron Man’s armor, and the Silver Surfer’s board, rending each of the mighty items down to their basest atoms. 

    In the end, however, the Molecule Man - who never wanted to be a villain in the first place - was convinced by Tigra to show mercy to her teammates. He restored each of their trademark accessories with ease and then booked himself into therapy. 

  • An Infinity Gauntlet-Wielding Thanos Shattered The Shield With Ease

    When: Infinity Gauntlet #4 (1991)

    Who: Thanos, the Mad Titan, is now a household name thanks to his starring role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before that, however, his first breakout as a character came during the Infinity Gauntlet saga, where he became the first mortal being to unite all the Infinity Gems - and then proceeded to snap half the universe out of existence. It’s kind of his thing.

    How: Thanos’s genocidal act gave the remaining unsnapped heroes little choice but to confront him at his spacey abode. Under the leadership of Adam Warlock, the assorted characters were charged with distracting the Mad Titan long enough that the Silver Surfer could swipe the Infinity Gauntlet right off his hand - and they certainly tried their best.

    Thanos didn’t just destroy the assemblage of heroes; he made a mockery of them. He transformed Thor into glass, pummeled the Hulk to a pulp, and turned Wolverine’s bones into sponge. Captain America ended up as the last one standing and bravely attempted to take on Thanos alone, which went about as well as could be expected. The Mad Titan shattered Cap’s shield with his bejeweled fist and then casually snapped Cap’s neck with a backhand slap.

    Eventually, however, Nebula got her hands on the Infinity Gauntlet and reversed all the damage her alleged grandfather had done - including the smashing of the shield. 

  • Thor’s Uncle, The God Of Fear, Ripped It Apart With His Bare Hands

    When: Fear Itself #5 (2011)

    Who: Cul Borson, also known as the Serpent and the Asgardian God of Fear, was Odin’s more malevolent brother, kept away in captivity for millennia due to a prophecy that stated he would one day slay Odin’s son. Of course, Cul eventually broke loose and dropped a bunch of enchanted hammers on Earth, creating a host of new apostles that spread fear itself in his name - and thus made him all the more powerful.

    How: When Cul first took on the Avengers, it was not a pretty scene. He made mincemeat of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, beating his nephew Thor with particular savagery. And when Captain America tried to intervene with a well-aimed shield toss, the God of Fear grabbed the buckler in his mighty hands and tore it asunder - shocking the assembled heroes in truly symbolic fashion.

    During the next round, Thor actually perished taking down his uncle, so Steve Rogers picked up Mjolnir and wielded it against Cul’s disciples. Later, Tony Stark, who had already used the Uru forges to outfit his fellow Avengers with Asgardian weapons, toted the busted pieces of Cap’s shield back to Nidavellir and put it back together, now stronger than ever.