23

In his first appearances, Captain America's shield is an elongated triangle with three peaks at the top:

Original sketch of Captain America

Joe Simon's first sketch of Captain America

Kite-shaped shield

Cover of Captain America issue #1, 1941

Now, of course, his shield is round.

Captain America with rounded shield

Late 60's issue of Captain America

When did this change occur, and why?

  • 4
    When? No idea. Why? Also no idea, though I'd speculate that it was accompanied by a shift in his fighting style; the round shield would allow it to be thrown, just like it is in the MCU, whereas the kite shield would be at best a purely melee weapon, if not entirely for defensive purposes. – Anthony Grist Jul 27 '15 at 6:49
  • I know Stan Lee created the round shield. – Rogue Jedi Aug 29 '15 at 18:44
35

From Elongated Triangle to Kite-shape shield

I cannot find any in-universe reason as to why this occurred, but out-of-universe I can.

Apparently the original sketch of Captain America came to the attention of Archie Comics (then MLJ Magazines) - they noticed there was a similarity between Captain America's shield and the chest detail of their own character The Shield (below).

The Shield

Consequently, Captain America's shield was changed to the Kite design.

(Source: Cronin, Brian (2009). Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed. Plume. pp. 135–136. ISBN 978-0-452-29532-2.)

From Kite shape shield to Round shield

When

The Marvel Wikia site refers to President F D Roosevelt presenting Captain America with this. This puts it between 1933 and 1945

Franklin D Roosevelt presenting Captain America with his new shield

From Captain America Vol 1 255: 'The Living Legend' in which

It details the origin of Captain America and focuses on his early adventures in 1941-42.

Why

As correctly pointed out in the question:

Rogers was originally issued a traditionally "kite" shaped shield made of mundane steel, as well as a sidearm.

(Source)

This new disc-shaped shield, however, had two main advantages:

1: It was better as an offensive weapon

He discovered:

that its excellent aerodynamic properties made it an effective offensive weapon

(Source)

2: It was made of a nearly indestructible alloy

Originally, Dr. Myron MacLain was attempting to perfect an indestructible alloy as strong as the legendary 'Adamantine', which Hercules' Golden Mace was made from. Dr. MacLain was hoping the alloy would provide a distinct advantage in the armor of American war machines, during World War II. The Doctor worked tirelessly, using the exotic Vibranium metal and an unknown substance. While the Doctor was asleep, as a result of his exhaustion, an unknown factor caused the metals he was working with to bond.

(Source)

An almost indestructible shield has obvious advantages over one made from 'mundane steel'!

Not only is the shield nearly indestructible though, it also has other useful properties which are inherent to Wakandan Vibranium, namely the ability to absorb vibratory energies in the vicinity.

The Wiki page on his shield explains the following (however bear in mind that it does not reference the said sources):

Some sources say that Dr. MacLain chose the discus shape because of its versatility, while other say that he used an existing cast designed for tank hatches.

  • 1
    went out for lunch, so got late to post, great answer +1 – RicoRicochet Jul 27 '15 at 7:42
  • 4
    Re: "Some sources say that Dr. MacLain chose the discus shape because of its versatility, while other say that he used an existing cast designed for tank hatches": Conveniently, these claims are compatible: perhaps he selected the discus shape for versatility, and used the existing cast because it happened to provide the selected shape. – ruakh Jul 27 '15 at 11:12
  • 6
    "able to throw it twice as far" - he was throwing the kite shield around already? – user2813274 Jul 27 '15 at 13:10
  • Great answer, +1 and many thanks. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jul 27 '15 at 17:25
  • 2
    @user2813274 yes, he threw the kite shield as well. – Omegacron Jul 27 '15 at 17:25
8

In-universe, Captain America got round shield in 1941. See the middle-right panel of this page from Avengers (1963) #71:

enter image description here

The same panel also shows why Cap wanted to get a round shield.

Note: This comics doesn't give any out-of-universe cue. When the comics came out, Cap already had round shield. In this scene, three Avengers (Black Panther, Yellow jacket and Vision) are in past when Cap didn't know anything about the Avengers.

Update:
Out-of-universe, Captain America first appeared with round shield in Captain America comics #2 (Published: April 01, 1941). You can see it on the cover:

enter image description here

The first page:

enter image description here

In the previous issue which was published on March 01, 1941 (whose cover you've included in the question), Captain America kept using that kite/badge shaped shield until the end.

They suddenly changed the design of the shield without giving any in-universe explanation at the time.

  • A side note on the story from Avengers 71; almost ten years later, when Roy Thomas was writing the adventures of Cap, the Human Torch, Namor, et al. during World War II as the super-hero team the Invaders, he retold this story from the viewpoint of the WWII heroes. However, Cap and Namor both resembled their present day selves (round shield, and green scale trunks, respectively). So, the story had to cover why they looked like they did in the Avengers story. Presumably, the shield switch was made in Avengers 71 to make it clear that this was Cap from the past. – RDFozz Aug 29 '18 at 22:06
  • Did the Submariner swim in the Seine, and survive? That guy really has strong superpowers! – Taladris Apr 10 at 6:45
0

Captain America's first shield was badge-shaped. After complaints by a rival comic company that it too closely resembled their hero's symbol, Captain's shield was replaced in Captain America #2 with a disc shaped version.

  • 4
    This seems to only be a vague reiteration of one point from the accepted answer. – Meat Trademark Aug 29 '15 at 18:28

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