Captain America's shield is made of one of the most exotic materials on the planet, which can absorb kinetic energy and is (nearly) indestructible. Why doesn't the government seize it from Captain America to put it to better use, like research (Particle Accelerator, Space Probes etc)?

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    Great idea. We'll just let you be the one to take it from him against his will. I'm sure it'll be fine :) – Alarion Nov 26 '15 at 13:46
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    For the record, parts of the Captain America: Civil War trailer would seem to indicate that they try to. – Dr R Dizzle Nov 26 '15 at 13:49
  • Not sure if you are asking about the comics or the films since you have tagged both but remember scientific technology is many times more advanced in the comics than in real life - they have inventions many times more complex than ours, for example time travel and space probes are largely unnecessary given the myriad spaceships and interstellar transports that exist, so research is probably less important than a super hero who has saved the world many times most iconic and effective weapon. – Jack Graveney Nov 26 '15 at 13:53
  • @Jack If you can prove that it can't be put to a better use, that can be answer. – Lobo Nov 26 '15 at 13:59
  • dont they (the bad guys) refine that metal in age of ultron? – Eumel Nov 26 '15 at 14:00

The first thing to determine here is what Captain America's shield is in fact made of. A quick consultation of the marvel wikia's page for Captain America's shield reveals it was made of Vibranium and an unknown other substance (later known as proto-adamantium) which its inventor Dr. Myron MacLain was experimenting with. It is also revealed that he experimented again and could not reproduce the new metal, instead producing only adamantium. However, Captain America's shield was later broken by the Serpent in the Fear Itself event - it was rebuilt with the Asgardian magical metal Uru. The Serpent breaks Cap's shield Proto Adamantium

Proto Adamantium is described by Marvel Wikia as follows

This is the original Adamantium created by Dr. MacLain. Proto-Adamantium is the official name for the metal that makes up Captain America's Shield. It has never been recreated and is the absolutely most indestructible item in all of existence. It has only ever been damaged or destroyed four times: by Doctor Doom with the powers he stole from the Beyonder, by Thanos with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, by Molecule Man and his total control over matter, and by the Serpent after augmenting his strength with the fear of people from all over the world.

It is clearly not indestructible but takes huge amounts of power to damage or destroy it. I considered if, after the shield was broken, no proto adamantium may have remained but since the shield is only shattered and not completely disintegrated I decided it is more likely that proto adamantium does remain within the shield, although perhaps it is less potent or powerful. Proto Adamantium would be the most important element for scientific research as both Vibranium and uru metal are likely renewable, and are definitely available to study and analyse in areas not limited to Cap's shield.

Uru Metal

This Asgardian metal makes up Thor's hammer and the weapons of many other Asgardians, it is highly durable and has an affinity with magic, asborbing and redirecting it and enhancing the abilities of the wielder. This seems to be readily available and could be used for research if required.


Vibranium, although rare, is naturally occurring and there are large amounts of freely available vibranium, for example in Black panther's costume, Avengers Tower, Warpath's daggers and Echo's staff, so if it was desired to build space probes etc from vibranium this would likely be possible without needing to analyse Cap's shield. Vibranium!

Possible research avenues/applications

As determined, the only need of Cap's shield for research would be the Proto-Adamantium, as it has been shown to not occur naturally and not be able to be recreated. However it would be impossible for the government to extract some pure Proto-Adamantium from his shield as it has only been damaged 4 times by beings of great power. This sadly rules out the idea of spaceships built from this rare metal. You also suggested use in a particle accelerator - my knowledge of this type of machinery is practically non existent but some research seems to imply single particles have to be placed into the accelerator for collision to occur - this again leads to the problem of not being able to separate indivual particles of Proto-Adamantium. I also dispute the usefullness of this kind of research in the Marvel Universe as their scientific knowledge is far more advanced than ours and it is not certain if the same principles of science even apply as in the real world.

Is it even worth it?

All of this supposes it is at all necessary or beneficial to seize (note the implication of unwillingness on Cap's part) the shield. If it was taken against Cap's will it is highly likely he would gather a group of willing superhumans to reclaim it from whatever government facility it was being held at. Even the most secure location would be indefensible against beings of that power.

I also find it unlikely that it would be beneficial to the government to remove Cap's shield from him - this superhero is the idol of millions and has been protecting the Earth and universe for decades (both Marvel time and real time) so removing his only weapon intelligent? He could use a replacement shield but this would not have the proto adamantium of the original, greatly decreasing its power.

To conclude:

  • Captain America's shield is made from uru metal, Proto adamantium and Vibranium
  • Proto adamantium is the only element not already available for analysis
  • Proto adamantium cannot be damaged or extracted by modern scientific method, hence it cannot be used in research or construction
  • His shield is Captain America's most powerful and recognisable weapon, which is essential to his fighting style, so he would likely not willingly relinquish it
  • The government could not seize and store Captain America's shield against his will
  • I don't think Captain America would go against the government. In reality, he can retrieve his shield from a government facility, but he would then be declared terrorist. – Lobo Nov 26 '15 at 18:04
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    Captain America immediately went against the government in Civil War (the comic book not the film) because he totally disagreed with the Registration Act. He attacked Maria Hill and Shield agents then broke out and went on the run. I don't think he would have any qualms doing the same for a reason the vast majority of super heroes (unlike in Civil War when many disagreed with him) were on his side and also wanted him to reclaim his shield. – Jack Graveney Nov 26 '15 at 18:31
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    Steve Rogers quit being Captain America because he didn't like the missions he was being sent on by the government. He took on the name "Nomad". He is absolutely willing to go against the government if he disagrees strongly enough. – phantom42 Nov 26 '15 at 19:16

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