When Captain America throws his mighty shield,
All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield.
– Captain America’s theme song from the 1966 animated TV show ‘The Marvel Super Heroes’
Many variations of Captain America’s shield have existed in the comics, so I am just going to stick to the history of the shield in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which intertwines fact and fiction.
The superhero Captain America appears in the films Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and most recently in Captain America: Civil War (2016).
Let’s go back to where it all began. Interestingly enough, the first shield that Steve Rogers aka Captain America carried was actually a traditional heater shield and not the iconic circular one which we now associate with him.
Captain America first received the discus shield in 1944 during World War II as a replacement for his original shield. It was gifted to him by Iron Man’s father, Howard Stark, who used the only supply of vibranium that the United States Armed Force had available.
In ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ Stark describes the shield as “stronger than steel and a third of the weight.” The Captain carries the shield on all his missions during WW2 as he and his crew performed raids on Hydra facilities to bring down Red Skull, the Axis powers and big bad Hitler. The evil Hydra organization led by Red Skull is the main enemy of Captain America and his troops in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’. The organization ‘Hydra’ derives its name from the mythical creature that could never die because “cut one head off and two more will take its place.” Truly terrifying.
The organization that Captain America works for is, coincidentally, called ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ It stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division.
Captain America’s shield is concave and discus-shaped. The shield is made of the fictional metal vibranium, which is said to be the rarest metal on Earth. The shield was first silver and metallic in color, but was later patriotically painted in the colors of the flag of the United States of America. The inner circle is blue and the surrounding three concentric circles are red, white and red stripes respectively, with a white circle in the center of the shield.
The shield can be used for both defending himself and his allies and to attack foes.
Defensively, the shield’s greatest asset is that it can absorb the impact of many weapons. It has taken many hits and blasts from bullets, lasers, Black Panther’s claws, and even Thor’s hammer, yet remains intact.
Captain America wore electromagnetic gloves in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, making it easier for him to retrieve his shield. Offensively, Captain throws his shield at his enemies, knocking them to the ground. He also uses his shield as a boomerang to disable or destroy weaponry and technology.
Captain America is a man out of his time, constantly trying to adjust to events of the present day, as he is uncovered along with his shield 70 years after the events of World War II. What if S.H.I.E.L.D. decided to equipped with a drone instead?
Imagine that Captain America has to use a drone to fight his enemies instead of a shield!
So now Captain America’s weapon of choice is a drone. How would he fare?
First off, here are the approximated dimensions, features and characteristics of each object:
|Method of Operation||Electroinc||Manual|
|Height||20 cm||6 cm|
|Weight||5.5 kg||5.5 kg|
|Diameter||123 cm||76 cm|
|Speed||5 m/s||19.5 m/s|
|Max Alltitude||122 m||–|
There are cameras fitted on the drone, so aerial surveillance such as those shown on the telecast of a match at a sports stadium is very much possible. The Captain could use the drone for surveillance of the enemy base, similar to how Iron Man uses his suit. Captain America could discreetly, safely monitor what the enemies are doing from a safe distance and without fear. Cap would become a hybrid of the superheroes Falcon and Iron Man, minus the ability to fly.
One of the visible differences between a drone and a shield is flight. The battery-operated drone can fly and cover a good distance as well. The drone is not strong enough to carry a human being so Steve Rogers could not fly. However, the drone could be used for carrying supplies up to 2 kilogrammes so items such as food or clothing can be carried to people stuck in hard-to-reach places.
There is barely any difference in weight of the two objects, so running while carrying the drone would not pose much of a problem.
Assume that the area is heavily guarded and tight-knit with HYDRA agents or evil mutants or all around. With his shield, Captain America would have to use brute force to get through and he might end up captured or killed (gasp!). A drone would allow him to be stealthy and possibly find a place through which he could sneak through later.
Captain America’s drone can help in assisting with search and rescue operations. Dangerous areas such as burning buildings or mine shafts could be accessed and viewed through the drone to get a better idea of the situation to plan the future rescue.
The downside is that mechanical, electrical or electronic malfunctions might occur with the drone or parts of the drone, as it is a piece of technology. There needs to be a stock of fresh batteries handy. Drones need proper maintenance and the costs of having a drone are higher than a shield. The upside is that drones are in their infancy technology wise and things can only get better.
The drone wouldn’t take as many hits as the shield, and could only take damage up to a certain point after which it would stop working.
If he was fighting along with his teammates, The Captain could play a more supporting role by giving his team members a rundown on the enemy’s positions and directing them to where people needed help and could identify potential threats or traps on the battlefield before they were even activated. This means that Captain America’s battle tactics would have to be changed considerably.
The Captain still has his fighting abilities, so to assume that he would be nothing without his shield is incorrect, but his capabilities are reduced without a weapon / defense. Captain America is used to being a leader and marshaling his troops into the battlefield, so it would take time for him to adapt to this new role. It would be a beautiful day in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood.
Swapping the shield for a drone is a nice thought and poses some interesting scenarios. The movies would change drastically if Cap carried a drone instead of a shield. Come on Marvel, I know you can make this work somehow!
Disclaimer: The characters in this article are entirely fictitious. Similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely a coincidental one.
* Details are taken from the specifications of a DAx8 drone developed by the company Drone America.
** Captain America’s shield is a fictional object, so the Marvel website was used as a reference to list the shield’s details.
Other references: Marvel.com, MarvelCinematicUniverse.wikia.com, DroneAmerica.com