I can now confirm with my own eyes that Captain America's shield does in fact make a cameo appearance in Iron Man.
It's in the scene where he has just returned from kicking ass and taking names in Afgahnistan. His robots are trying to remove his badly damaged armor and Pepper Potts walks in on him.
The shield is can be seen behind him, underneath his right arm, lying on his work bench.
But this is not the simple concave metal disk that most of us remember.
There is a lot going on with this shield.
Look at the center...the white star on a blue background. This doesn't appear to be your normal, painted insignia. The white star seems to be on top of some sort of transluscent blue surface...you can see the shadow of the star inside the blue surface. There is some depth there...not a simple flat metal surface.
Next, look at the red and white stripes surrounding the blue center.
The two red stripes appear to be be above the white stripe. Again, not a flat surface, but more layers.
Now look at the edge of the shield closest to the viewer and right under his armpit. This edge appears to be bare metal segments...not a solid ring.
What does this all mean? Several things. First and foremost, Cap's shield in the Captain America movie and the subsequent Avenger's movie(s) will not be some simple, exotic alloy, concave metal shield. Look for Cap's shield to be pimped by Stark Industries with all sorts of exotic electronics, remote flight characteristics and possibly even some of Stark Industries proprietary repulsar technology.
Because, let's face it. A Captain America who just throws a big metal frisbee like he's making complicated bank shots in a game of snooker isn't all that exciting.
In the Marvel Universe, the original Captain America was an experimental Super Soldier created during WWII to battle the Nazis. Through comic book magic, he was found in the 60's, frozen in the artic in a state of suspended animation and thawed out to fight modern day evildoers.
I expect that a similar mechanism will be used to "update" Captain America in the movies so that he doesn't seem so lame. A tricked out shield, some high tech armoring and a fashion makeover are very likely.
For instance, I've always had a problem with the itsy bitsy wings on Cap's cowl.
They just seem silly. Wouldn't they have been sliced off in battle a long time ago? Does he keep having to go to a seamstress or costumer to have them replaced?
I found a lot of imagery that could be co-opted to make a pseudo-believable 2010 Cap while remaining true to the source material.
Here is a Captain America sans silly-wings who looks like he could kick some ass.
This sort of imagery appears to come from the Marvel Ultimate universe.
You will notice that in addition to losing the head-wings, the Cap is packing heat and a web belt full of who knows what (like Batman's Utility Belt). I expect to see this make it's way into the upcoming movies.
The incredible Alex Ross has even jumped from the DC Universe to take a spin at Captain America.
Based on what I've seen online, I suspect the Ultimate universe will play a large role in the Marvel story arc over the next 3 years.
"Marvel Studios Sets Four More Release Dates!
Source: Marvel Entertainment May 5, 2008
Marvel Entertainment released their first quarter report to its shareholders this morning to coincide with the announcement about the success this past weekend of Marvel Studios' first production Iron Man, which grossed an estimated $104.2 million domestically and over $201 million worldwide. The announcement included an update of Marvel Studios' feature film slate with the already-rumored Iron Man 2 announced for a release on April 30, 2010, followed by three more movies for the summers of '10 and '11. Matthew Vaughn's Thor is set for a release on June 4, 2010, and The First Avenger: Captain America (the working title) will kick off the summer of 2011 on May 6, followed by the highly-anticipated and foreshadowed The Avengers scheduled for July 2011. (Edgar Wright's Ant-Man is also listed as being in development with no release date set.)
In a conference call this morning, Marvel Studios' David Maisel said that Iron Man 2 will be used to introduce Thor."
I'm really looking forward to the next few years.