I fought with myself about the title of this “Let’s Talk” because this is going to be a bit of a complex argument, depending on who wants to argue. Let me be clear, Captain America is not whoever is holding that shield. That shield is an accessory just like Mjolnir, Stormbreaker, Tony’s suit, Gamora’s blade and so one and so forth. The reason I chose this particular title picture is because this is a moment when Cap did not have his original shield and was still willing to die to save the universe. Captain America is Steve Rogers, period. Shield or no shield, Captain America is the man, not who has the shield and I think that’s what Walker and Sam were hung up on in the series.
Steve was chosen. Steve was special. He had specific qualities that the doctor was looking for that made the serum work how it was supposed to. Steve was given that shield for a couple of reasons. They needed him to be a real All-American hero that wielded a symbol we could recognize and the serum didn’t make him bulletproof. He needed protection. Think about it. If the serum somehow made Cap bulletproof, would they have bothered to make him a shield? No.
I think the shield became a real symbol for Captain America, within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in Captain America: Civil War when he and Tony had their epic fight at the end of the film. If you recall, when Bucky and Cap walk away, Tony tells him he didn’t deserve the shield so he left it with Tony. I feel like this is where the initial idea of whoever wields the shield is Captain America came from. I don’t think of Captain America as a mantle that someone can assume like Black Panther. As far as the military was concerned, Steve was far from their ideal pick but Dr. Erskine knew better. He knew he couldn’t pick the strongest or savviest soldier. He had to pick someone who was willing to fight in spite of what obstacles faced him and that, Zemo, is why there will never be another Captain America.
So what does that mean for Sam and John? Well, as I’ve said before, the legacy of Captain America is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Everybody is not supposed to have the same journey. When Cap gave Sam that shield, personally, I took that as Cap letting Sam know he saw something in him that made him suitable to be able to guard the world, if you will. Which if you think about it, that’s what he’s been doing this entire season. Think about this. When Cap gave Sam the shield and Sam told him that it felt like someone else’s to which Cap responded that it’s not, he didn’t give a lecture about legacy or what to do with the shield. He just gave it to him. That was it. In contrast, Mjolnir came with a lecture and a responsibility.
What do you think? Does the shield make the man? Sound off!