When Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers handed Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson a new and improved shield at the end of Avengers: Endgame, many were stoked to finally see him put it to use. However, when the time came for the Falcon to take on that mantle, he couldn’t do it—enter The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
After five episodes of intense philosophizing, fighting, and general conflict all around, Wilson came to his senses and decided to pick up the shield. In doing so, he also got a nice upgraded suit courtesy of Wakanda.
While his suit was quite fancy, there was something the advanced nation didn’t touch in its tinkerings: the shield itself. Now, thanks to a behind-the-scenes book, it’s been revealed that at one point, even the iconic vibranium weapon was granted some new tricks.
A Crazy Wakanda Upgrade for Captain America
In Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: The Art of the Series, development concept illustrator Wesley Burt revealed some alternate abilities that Sam Wilson’s new Captain America shield would have had.
The artist discussed how he was “looking for a way to minimally add an element to the shield,” one which would “hint at the Wakandan upgrades before you see them used:”
"Ryan [Meinerding] asked some of the [Visual Development] department to take a little bit of time and think up some new ways that Sam could use the shield, more specific to him and his own physicality with it… when I was thinking about the tech rim piece, I was looking for a way to minimally add an element to the shield so as not to distract too much from the shield itself but still make it feel like it could have a believable tech addition and hint at the Wakandan upgrades before you see them used.”
In addition, Burt also wanted to hone in and “emphasize the defensive nature of the shield itself,” which led him to the idea of incorporating “the various shield tech used by the Border Tribe and their blue cape shields… [and the] big cloaking shield around Wakanda itself:”
“I also just really wanted to think of other ways that could emphasize the defensive nature of the shield itself and not just look for new ways that it could be used as a weapon. I immediately thought of the various shield tech used by the Border Tribe and their blue cape shields, and also the big cloaking shield around Wakanda itself, as a jumping-off point for how it could be implemented here…”
One version of this “Wakandan shield tech add-on” included “rim pieces shoot[ing] outwards and fill[ing] in to make a larger energy protective barrier.” The cherry on top? This energy would have the “Falcon wing motif in [its] design.”
Additionally, at one point, Sam's wings would have been able to carry the shield for him.
As for the suit that Sam’s new attire came from, prop illustrator John Eaves revealed how “[they] kind of have a running trend that… started on [Iron Man 2]… where we used this very same base to build the case on:"
"We kind of have a running trend that goes with all of these cases… we started on that with Iron Man 2, where we used this very same base to build the case on, and Property Master Russell Bobbitt thought it was kind of fun over time that the base is the same, but the details change, so it has this running architecture from the last ten years in Marvel cases for whatever you need.”
Eaves continued, noting how “[they] took a lot of elements off of the wings and costume and integrated them subtly into the design of the surface details:”
"And so we took that same case idea. It had a fixed handle on it in the beginning, and we had latches, and we went with that idea at first, and then Russell goes, ‘Let's make it so the handle folds into the case and put a digital reader on it so you have to type in a code before the handle will come out or you can do any kind of opening procedures.' We came up with a couple of variations of how that code and handle could work. Then we stuck with the same panel breakdown on the surface, but we took a lot of elements off of the wings and costume and integrated them subtly into the design of the surface details."
Will Sam Wilson Take the Wakanda Upgrade Next Time?
Those upgrades would have been neat to see in action and a great surprise for fans. It would have been a fun and creative call back to the Wakandan tech seen in Avengers: Infinity War.
The theme of utilizing the shield’s defensive abilities in an offensive manner has always been part of the fun about Cap’s shield, and this would have taken it to a whole new level.
As cool as it was, it’s understandable why Marvel Studios didn’t use it. Putting anything on the iconic shield would have caused pushback from some fans—with a weapon like that, it’s hard to tinker with it. This could also probably explain why the subtle changes to Sam’s new shield aren’t more colorful.
At the end of the day, however, Captain America could be holding back on some newfound tech tricks. Audiences only got him in one action scene, after all. With his return in the upcoming Captain America 4, there’s plenty of room to expand upon Sam’s new toolkit. He’ll even have had more than enough time to make his own modifications. Maybe he’ll even get his own Falcon as well.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is now streaming on Disney+, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will hit theaters on November 11.