He doesn't wear a parachute? (A Few Scientific Problems with the Shield)

This is unfortunately for me a blog on the wrong side of the new Captain America trailer. One scene which has people talking is that where he jumps out of the airplane without a parachute:

I actually meant to point this out after the Avengers movie, but I had been on vacation at the time and was not actively blogging. The thing to consider about the Captain jumping out of a plane with no parachute is not sign of toughness, but really is just the fastest way to reach the ground, granted of course that he has the shield with him. Since its introduction the shield has never really been well explained, or at least not consistently, but that just puts it on par with most comic book items.

As the shield being made out of a composition of metals, it would have to have equal properties throughout, in that if it is struck from one direction that it would have equal ability to absorb energy. The presentation of the shield is that it somehow absorbs all energy shot at it whether this be electromagnetic energy in the form of lasers of kinetic energy in the form of punches (or hits from Mjolnir) though this does not fit with the law of conservation of energy either (unless the shield gets extremely hot after being hit.) There is an inherent problem with this presentation though, mainly that if the shield is thrown as a weapon that it absorbs all the energy as well, meaning that people wouldn't be able to feel if they had been hit by it. Equally though, if he jumped out of an airplane and landed on the shield, he should be completely fine (seeing as the energy from momentum of a human in free fall is likely far less for instance than being hit by Thor's hammer.)

15 Comments
15 Comments
Edited by danhimself

it's actually a take on a scene from the first issue of Ultimates

Posted by AllStarSuperman

Explain why some times cyclops beams send him flying and others it just gets blocked?

Posted by cbishop

Explain why some times cyclops beams send him flying and others it just gets blocked?

Need of the writers in that particular story. Oldie but goodie: "suspend your disbelief." It's a comic book- just enjoy it.

Posted by AllStarSuperman

@cbishop: yup, I usually don't take them that seriously.

Posted by M3th

oH no comic books are not following tHe rules of pHysics or logic! WHy are tHey doing tHis?

-ABstract4$#073-

Posted by RazzaTazz

@cbishop: Analyzing it like this is me enjoying it :)

Posted by joshmightbe

@razzatazz: He did use a parachute in Avengers, he grabbed it and put it on before he jumped out of the jet after Thor and Iron Man. They didn't show him land tho.

Edited by Veshark

Captain America has never really needed a parachute to jump out of a plane. Ultimate Cap has never even used a parachute, I can name like four separate instances where he jumped out of a plane without using one. 616 Cap does occasionally use them in his plane-jumping excursions, but he's still more than capable of doing so without one.

As for the shield, the idea behind it is that the mixture of vibranium and its unknown alloy creates an unique once-in-a-lifetime metal with special properties. Molecule Man once described its molecular makeup as being the 'weirdest of all' in comparison to Surfer's board and Thor's hammer.

So, at least for me, that's how I justify it defying all physical law ;)

Posted by RazzaTazz

@razzatazz: He did use a parachute in Avengers, he grabbed it and put it on before he jumped out of the jet after Thor and Iron Man. They didn't show him land tho.

I know, only when I saw it for the first time it just occurred to me that with the shield that he wouldn't need one.

Posted by wildvine

I just assumed he had a plan. Lol

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Posted by cbishop

@cbishop: Analyzing it like this is me enjoying it :)


Yeah, I get that. I just find that ultimately, the answer is not a scientific one. It's just that the writers wanted it that way. I don't mind bad science. I just hate it when they seem out of character. :}

Posted by fodigg

My headcanon explanation is that Cap's shield absorbs and stores energy when struck flat (slowly bleeding this out over time), but releases the stored energy when struck on the edge. This makes getting hit with the shield hurt like a mother-trucker. This also explains why the thing bounces so dramatically when thrown instead of losing momentum with each strike.

Of course, that's all just made up by me so I don't grind my teeth when I see it bouncing all over the place. But the bonus of this explanation is that jumping out of a plane and landing on his shield is a good way for cap to "charge up" his shield before a mission.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@fodigg said:

My headcanon explanation is that Cap's shield absorbs and stores energy when struck flat (slowly bleeding this out over time), but releases the stored energy when struck on the edge. This makes getting hit with the shield hurt like a mother-trucker. This also explains why the thing bounces so dramatically when thrown instead of losing momentum with each strike.

Of course, that's all just made up by me so I don't grind my teeth when I see it bouncing all over the place. But the bonus of this explanation is that jumping out of a plane and landing on his shield is a good way for cap to "charge up" his shield before a mission.

That makes sense. Theoretically it could be set up in some kind of a lattice like carbon. Carbon can be very strong on one axis and very weak on another (it is how pencils work.) An energy version of this is maybe a good explanation.

Posted by fodigg

@fodigg said:

My headcanon explanation is that Cap's shield absorbs and stores energy when struck flat (slowly bleeding this out over time), but releases the stored energy when struck on the edge. This makes getting hit with the shield hurt like a mother-trucker. This also explains why the thing bounces so dramatically when thrown instead of losing momentum with each strike.

Of course, that's all just made up by me so I don't grind my teeth when I see it bouncing all over the place. But the bonus of this explanation is that jumping out of a plane and landing on his shield is a good way for cap to "charge up" his shield before a mission.

That makes sense. Theoretically it could be set up in some kind of a lattice like carbon. Carbon can be very strong on one axis and very weak on another (it is how pencils work.) An energy version of this is maybe a good explanation.

Sounds reasonable. I've been actually trying to track down a scan from the Moon Knight issues where Echo uses a vibranium staff made by (or more accurately, modified to include a vibranium "sliver" by) Buck Lime. The staff is designed to increase the impact of each blow (i.e., release energy) so it kind of supports the theory, but I can't seem to find any scans of Buck explaining it or Maya actually hitting anyone with it. I thought for sure she smacked Snapdragon with it at least once.

Posted by AlKusanagi

Pretty sure he's jumping into water in that scene. Despite water being as hard as concrete at high speeds, by comic logic all he'd need to do is use his shield to break the surface tension of the water as he dove in.