Captain America

The Avengers Gave Captain America Adamantium Long Before Wolverine

The Avengers Gave Captain America Adamantium Long Before Wolverine
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In the MCU, Captain America’s shield is composed of the precious metal vibranium – but in the comics, it has surprising ties to Wolverine’s adamantium

As surprising as it seems, Wolverine isn’t the only Avenger with adamantium – in the comics, Captain America has his own historic connection to rare metal. The Weapon X Project attempted to transform Wolverine into the ultimate super-soldier when they coated his bones with the precious metal adamantium. Wolverine is one of the precious few people who could survive the process, with his mutant healing factor counteracting the metal’s toxic effect. It means his bones are practically unbreakable, and his razor-claws can cut through practically everything.

Yet, for all that’s the case, there is one thing Wolverine has never been able to cut. However hard he tries, however many times he goes head-to-head with Captain America, those claws have never been able to cut through the star-spangled shield. Unlike the MCU, in the comics, Captain America’s shield has its own connection to adamantium – one that actually makes it even stronger.


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Technically Captain America’s shield is made of a substance named “proto adamantium,” created by a scientist named Dr. MacLain. As revealed in Captain America #303, MacLain was a scientist working for the US government in the build-up to the Second World War. A metallurgist, he was hired to create a new alloy that would be perfect for indestructible tanks. He spent months working with samples of vibranium, attempting to bond it to steel, but was unsuccessful. Finally, one night he fell into an exhausted sleep while conducting experiments – and when he awoke he had accomplished the desired results. He quickly poured the molten metal into a disc-shaped mold for testing – but, after completing his tests, he realized he could not duplicate the process and create more. That disc became Captain America’s shield, and MacLain’s future experiments created a related – but not quite as tough – metal, adamantium.

Marvel Comics Captain America Proto-Adamantium

Marvel’s Ultimate universe – a modernized retelling of the Marvel stories – simplified this origin, revealing Captain America’s shield was actually constructed of adamantium. It’s easy to see why Marvel took this approach, simply because it’s an easier tale to tell, but it has the unfortunate effect of removing the connection between Captain America’s shield and Wakanda’s celebrated vibranium. When the MCU introduced its version of Captain America, it took a different angle, with the shield composed purely of vibranium – a decision that again made perfect sense, given they didn’t have the film rights to adamantium at the time.

Ironically, this likely means that the MCU’s Wolverine will wind up having claws that are actually stronger than the metal in Captain America’s shield – at least unless the studio do another retcon. It’s only a matter of time before Wolverine and the X-Men make their official debut as part of the MCU, and it’s quite possible Logan will wind up going head-to-head with Sam Wilson’s Captain America. If so, future avengers movies may well show that famous shield getting badly damaged once again.

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