Cap’s shield is designed to draw fire away, with red-and-white rings resembling a bullseye to protect him.
Enemies aim for Cap’s chest due to military training, explaining why his shield blocks many bullets in the MCU.
Sam Wilson’s Vibranium suit is more practical, helping him avoid harm as he takes on the mantle of Captain America.

Captain America is regularly protected by his Vibranium shield, with one simple reason proving why this is the case. Throughout Captain America’s MCU timeline, the Avenger has faced down several villains. From the likes of Red Skull, Alexander Pierce, Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier, and HYDRA in his own movies to godlike beings such as Loki, Ultron, and Thanos in the Avengers films, many Captain America MCU movies have provided Steve Rogers – and now Sam Wilson – with various threats.


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Despite these threats, a common complaint of even the best-ranked Captain America movies is that most of the character’s enemies shoot fruitlessly at Cap’s shield. A large reason for this can be put down to the skill of Captain America, whose enhanced reflexes allow him to block incoming projectiles. That said, there is actually a much more simple reason as to why Cap’s villains shoot at his shield, one introduced in Marvel Comics that brings psychology into the world of superheroes and villains.

Captain America’s Shield Is A Bullseye That’s Supposed To Draw Fire

Cap’s shield was specifically designed to subconsciously draw fire away from its wielder.

The colored red-and-white rings circle the central star of Captain America, making the Vibranium weapon resemble a giant bullseye.

The hidden reason behind why Cap’s shield is regularly shot is its design. In both the comics and the MCU, alongside the many other iterations of the character, Captain America’s shield is designed with various rings. The colored red-and-white rings circle the central star of Captain America, making the Vibranium weapon resemble a giant bullseye. As such, the shield is designed in a way that it is supposed to be shot at, with Cap’s enemies subconsciously buying into this idea.

Cap’s enhanced abilities work in tandem with this subtle design trick to protect him from various dangers.

While this explanation may seem like a nonsensical excuse to explain the lack of bullet-related injuries in Captain America movies, it is supported by Marvel Comics. In Captain America: The Fighting Avenger Vol. 1 – first released in 2011 – Steve is shown arguing why his shield’s design makes sense. After the shield is criticized for resembling a giant bullseye, Steve states that this is the point. He says that the design means the enemies are supposed to shoot at it, protecting him from fire.

Firearms Training Practices Explain Why Marvel Villains Always Aim For The Chest

Real-world training can also explain Cap’s protection using his shield.

Furthermore, the shield receives a lot of enemy fire in the MCU due to real-world firearm practices. In most military organizations or any that require structured training with firearms, combatants are trained to always aim for the chest and/or abdomen of their targets. This logic can be applied to many Captain America villains in the MCU, explaining why Steve’s shield receives so much fire.

Given that Captain America was trained in the military himself, he will be aware of the fact that these enemies have been trained to aim for his own chest or abdomen.

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve was shown fighting in World War II. Naturally, the enemy combatants Steve comes up against will have extensive military training, meaning most will aim for his chest or abdomen. This extends to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which Steve comes up against militaristic pirates, the soldiers of HYDRA, and Bucky Barnes himself. All of these enemies are also trained in firearms. The same can be said of the enemies at the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, led by Brock Rumlow, formerly of SHIELD/HYDRA.

Given that Captain America was trained in the military himself, he will be aware of the fact that these enemies have been trained to aim for his own chest or abdomen. This means that Steve – or Sam, who also has military training – will primarily protect his chest or abdomen with his shield subconsciously. With the majority of Cap’s enemies evidently having received military training, it stands to reason that the shield blocks a lot of bullets intended for Steve’s center.

Captain America’s Main MCU Appearances

Release Dates

Captain America: The First Avenger

July 22, 2011

The Avengers

May 4, 2012

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

April 4, 2014

Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 1, 2015

Captain America: Civil War

May 6, 2016

Avengers: Infinity War

April 27, 2018

Avengers: Endgame

April 26, 2019

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

March 19 – April 23, 2021

Captain America: Brave New World

February 14, 2025

What Would Happen If Steve Rogers Was Shot

The lack of bullet-related injuries in the MCU begs an important question about Captain America.

Custom Image by Nicolas Ayala

Given that so many bullets are blocked by Cap’s shield in the MCU, the question is raised about what would happen if Steve was shot. Interestingly, the MCU has already provided an answer to this question. This answer came in Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s third act. The film’s climax saw Steve Rogers team up with Sam Wilson/The Falcon and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow to take down the HYDRA helicarriers that were intending to target billions of people across the world.

While Natasha, with the help of Nick Fury and Maria Hill, takes care of SHIELD/HYDRA’s head honcho, Alexander Pierce, Sam Wilson takes on the helicarriers in the air that Steve cannot reach. Steve, meanwhile, battles against the titular Winter Soldier in order to take down the final helicarrier left standing. After a long firefight, Steve climbs towards the control panel of the final vehicle before he is shot twice by Bucky. The first shot hits the back of Cap’s thigh, while the second embeds into his abdomen via his back.

Bucky’s shooting reflects the aforementioned point about trained military personnel aiming for their enemies’ abdomens.

These gunshots severely weaken Cap and he falls into the river below, but not before allowing Hill to take down the third helicarrier. Regardless of the outcome of the film’s plot, it remains the case that Bucky’s gunshots weakened Cap significantly. While it makes sense for Cap to survive as he has a healing factor, his strength and durability are only enhanced to reflect a perfect soldier, not a godlike being who can survive most injuries. Steve is later shown waking up in the hospital, proving further how important his shield is to saving his life regularly.

Sam Wilson’s Vibranium Captain America Suit Is Much More Practical

The enhancements of Sam Wilson’s Captain America outfit are a logical change for the character.

As of 2021’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson officially became the MCU’s next Captain America. The show detailed him coming to terms with accepting the mantle, from accepting that he can carry on the legacy of Steve Rogers to overcoming his reservations about a black man becoming the symbol of a country that has long failed people like him. Nonetheless, Sam chose to take up the mantle anyway, taking possession of Steve’s Vibranium shield.


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However, in a big change from Steve’s tenure as Cap, Sam received a new suit. This suit was made by the Wakandans and implemented Vibranium within the fibers of the outfit. Steve was never shown to have armored suits in this capacity, though the change makes sense to reflect the differences between Sam and Steve.

Even more so than Steve, Sam will be reliant on his shield, Vibranium wings, and Vibranium suit to block bullets or other weapons that could harm him. The reason for this is that Sam is not a super soldier. Sam does not have the enhanced durability, strength, speed, or reflexes that Steve possessed, meaning injuries that Steve survived would be incredibly difficult for Sam to overcome. As such, the Vibranium suit is much more practical for Sam as it will help him avoid the perils that being Captain America brings in the MCU’s future.

Captain America: Brave New World

Captain America: Brave New World (formerly titled New World Order) marks Sam Wilson’s first MCU big-screen appearance as Steve Rogers’ successor after receiving the suit and shield in Phase 4’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Anthony Mackie returns as the titular Avenger alongside Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres, Carl Lumby as Isaiah Bradley, and Tim Blake Nelson as The Incredible Hulk’s former ally Samuel Sterns. Harrison Ford makes his MCU debut replacing the late William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross.

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