Captain America is able to throw his circular shield and have it return it to him like a boomerang.

Is this even possible according to physics (especially considering the ranges at which he uses the shield)?

  • 38
    How does it work? Very well, thank you.
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 18:08
  • 1
    Upon entering the marvel universe where heroes, villains, and buxom lasses are concerned some of the improbable, irrational, and unlikely must be accepted as probable, rational, and likely.
    – Chad
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 19:04
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    I'm tempted to reply: "If we knew how it worked we'd be using them ourselves".
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 22:06
  • 8
    Because to get the vibranium, they melted down Xena's Chakram and made his shield out of that.
    – Tango
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 1:25
  • 4
    The shield is actually a yoyo. It's just that is a bit unbecoming of Captain America to be brandishing a yoyo, so they call it a shield. The string is made of super stuff so it's really thin and doesn't break.
    – Misha R
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 7:26

3 Answers 3


The Simple Answer:

  • Captain America does not throw his shield and have it return like a boomerang. It acts instead more like a frisbee disk able to strike and transfer energy between multiple opponents. As to whether the laws of physics would allow this to take place in reality is highly unlikely. There are no known substances which would allow a metal to do what the Shield is able to do.

  • Using his enhanced strength and his awareness of three dimensional space, he can cause it to return after striking a variety of targets or opponents. Thrown with sufficient force it can act as a cutting edge destroying metallic objects such as guns, helicopter rotors and even tank turrets.

  • Considering the number of surfaces he is able to use to redirect his shield, his awareness of vector dynamics would make him an extraordinary marksman or billiards player. He is able to calculate intuitively what it will take for his shield to return to him and has through practice been able to predict his shield's behavior with nearly flawless accuracy.

  • The edge of the shield is somehow able to absorb and transfer energy allowing the shield to behave like a superball, bouncing until it runs out of energy, hits a soft target which absorbs its energy transfer or is caught by Captain America or another sufficient strong and agile person.

shield bouncing off walls

Properties of The Shield:

  • The shield is made of, depending on which medium you are discovering it, from either and adamantium/vibranium or vibranium/iron alloy or in the most recent episodes of the Avengers comics, vibranium/adamantium/uru metallic alloy mixture.

  • The extra-terrestrial material vibranium bestows by nature of the curvature and density of the element within the shield its ability to either deaden or absorb vibration-based energy used against the shield when struck along the front of the shield. The shield is capable of absorbing incredible energies and preventing them from reaching the wielder.

  • Cap has even used it to absorb the impact of falling from a skyscraper and absorbing the energy of his landing with the shield escaping serious injury.

  • The shield has also taken blows from Thor and Mjolnir with Captain America's fighting skill allowing him to roll with the impact escaping serious injury.

Mjölnir hits the shield

  • The adamantium/iron/uru element of the shield supposedly renders the shield relatively invulnerable to almost any energy or effect not considered cosmic or reality-altering in nature.

  • The nigh-indestructible shield has been broken five or six times, in continuity, by the Molecule Man, Doom, imbued with the Beyonder's powers, Thanos, wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, Thor using the Odinforce and by the Serpent, brother to Odin.

  • Its breaking is usually a monumental event and when its replaced or repaired it is often by the same force that destroys it. There are numerous retcons in the Marvel universe where the shield was thought to be broken and found to be a replica instead.

the shield is broken

Throwing the Shield:

  • When the shield is thrown, edge on, the vibranium alloy allows the shield to resonate and continue bouncing from object to object when struck on the side.

  • The shield will continue bouncing, if thrown properly until it is either caught amid flight or strikes an object not capable of resisting the shield well enough to continue on its way. With sufficient training, Captain America has learned to be able to throw the shield so it returns to his hand, apparently effortlessly.

  • Yet we know that this is actually very difficult to do, since only a few other people have shown any aptitude with performing this feat (Hawkeye and later, the Winter Soldier/Bucky) are two of the people to have ever been shown to have learned it well enough to use the shield offensively. Technically, it is to be assumed the Taskmaster could do it since he can photographically copy the reflex actions of any trainable skill.


  • Though it may appear that Captain America's shield returns to his hand via magical means, it does because of his highly trained and finely-honed skill at throwing it.

  • Coupled that skill with his enhanced superior agility and mental acuity as well as the unique metallurgical properties of the shield itself and you have the unique defensive and offensive properties of Captain America's shield.

  • Nearly indestructible, it can be used defensively as a protective device and offensively only in the hands of a skilled user. Few on Marvel's Earth-616 have the capabilities and experience throwing the shield of Captain America.

shield comes back to Cap

  • After "Fear Itself" Odin recalled the weapons. The dwarves that Stark worked with fixed the shield, but I don't know that uru was used in fixing it (it would give the shield an enchantment, wouldn't it?).
    – casperOne
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 4:23
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    It should be noted that others with great dexterity have also been able to wield the shield in this manner, examples being Bucky, Daredevil, and Hawkeye. When Sharon Carter (a highly trained S.H.I.E.L.D. operative in her own right) tries to use it (in the recently released "Captain America" series by Ed Brubaker), she tries to ricochet the shield much in the way that Captain America does, only to have it lodged in a building nowhere near him (although they play it to certainly look like it will get to him).
    – casperOne
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 4:27
  • Uru in and of itself does not have a natural enchantment, but the metal will hold one very well, which it is one of the primary components of anything made by the dwarves which needs enchanting. Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 2:20
  • 1
    I'm fairly sure Cap mentioned that he'd once had some sort of magnetic retrieval system for the shield (I think Tony stark designed it) but that it didn't work too well and he discarded it. I can't remember where it was mentioned, though.
    – cjm
    Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 14:03
  • 3
    “his awareness of vector dynamics would make him an extraordinary marksman or billiards player” — do not bet money on a pool game with Cap. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 13:56

Because his shield is made of a fictitious alloy, it doesn't need to obey the laws of physics.

From the Wikipedia article:

The vibranium in the shield grants it unusual properties, allowing it to absorb virtually all of the kinetic impact from any blows that the shield receives without injuring Rogers in the process. The vibranium is also a factor in the way Rogers throws his shield: he often uses it to ricochet around a room and strike various opponents with little loss of velocity in its forward movement after each impact.

Given his enhanced strength and intelligence, he can calculate where he needs to hit something and the ricochet paths in order for it to return to him.

  • 5
    Yes. His shield doesn't return to him automatically, he just throws it so that it'll bounce back to him. When Bucky was Cap, he couldn't pull that trick off. Never play pool with Steve Rogers.
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 18:09
  • 1
    @Jeff Unless you are Cyclops. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 20:33
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    Adding to @Random832's question, does not the fact that it absorbs all kinetic energy prevent it from ricocheting in the first place? Would it not hit whatever object it was thrown at and simply fall to the ground?
    – Chad Levy
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 21:09
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    @Random832 Because he's catching it, not letting it bounce off of his hand...?
    – Izkata
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 21:38
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    @Paperjam I can't say for certain, since I haven't seen much Captain America media, but if the shield is thrown (and ricochets) like Xena's chakram, then it could have something to do with being extra bouncy on edge, but kinetic-energy absorbent on the flat surface.
    – Izkata
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 21:39

No on the Captain America glove there is a magnet that is so strong.The magnet can only attract the shield. So that's why the shield come back to him. You can search on Google Images​ "Magnet on Captain America's glove".

  • 2
    This answer could be improved by adding some of the images you mentioned and references stating that it is indeed a magnet causing it to work.
    – kjw
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 15:31

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