Good Question: What paint is on Captain America’s shield?

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My son James gives Chris Evans a run for his money as Captain America. | Robert Patten,

This question comes from movie critic Adam Forsgren, who posted this meme on my Facebook wall:

Let’s take a look at the fictional shield itself first. It’s a convex disc made of a vibranium alloy (a super-duper also fictional metal).

This metal can absorb blows and extreme temperatures like no one’s business. And Cap often uses it as a Frisbee of destruction against the bad guys.

So there’s no denying the shield takes a beating.

And, logically, the paint should be chipping off in showers of red, white and blue. So why doesn’t it?

There’s no one answer. Here are the theories.

(Please note that regardless of what you believe about the paint, superhero comics aren’t known for being consistent. You can find evidence to support or debunk anything I say if you look hard enough!)

The paint is nothing special

You don’t read comics or watch movies to watch paint dry, so we’re simply not shown the regular touch-ups to the shield.

Movie posters support this theory.

The paint is clearly scratched and peeling. And if you look carefully, there’s some dinged paint in the meme itself.

The paint is a lie

Contrary to popular belief, the shield is actually made of yummy fruit and cream cheese frosting. | Stock photo

What if the metal itself is colored, and the different colored pieces are fused together? There’s no paint to wear away.

Neat idea, but I think the cake is easier to swallow.

It’s superpaint

It stands to reason that a universe that can produce invulnerable shields can also produce invulnerable paint.

Depending on the source, Captain America’s shield is said to be adorned with titanium oxide paint or “high-temperature titanium nitride laced enamel.”

Regardless of the name, the paint is resistant to normal wear and tear and chemicals.

Just like the paint my kids spilled on the carpet the other night …

No explanation needed

As Spider-Man observes of the shield in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” “That thing doesn’t obey the laws of physics at all!”

Perhaps Spidey is also referring to the paint. And it falls in line with everything else.

The Marvel Universe includes a god with an ultra-destructive hammer, a guy who turns into a green Dr. Hyde when he’s angry, a billionaire with a metal suit and rocket boots, and Robert Redford as a villain.

Of all the things to block your suspension of disbelief, a paint job is probably at the bottom of the list.

Just enjoy it, and remember: If you’re not on Team Cap, you’re wrong.


Official Marvel explanation on Captain America’s shield

Extensive Wikipedia entry on Captain America’s shield

Fan wiki (Marvel Database) article on the shield

Quora answer on shield’s paint

Reddit discussion on whether acid can affect the shield

Further reading

Adam’s review of “Captain America: Civil War”

Do you have a Good Question about anything? Send it to Robert! Email him at, visit him on Twitter @notthegeneral or Facebook.

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