Steve Rogers and Thor's hammer

Things We Saw Today: My Least Favorite Answer to an Avengers: Endgame Plot Hole Yet

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Here we are, still talking about the myriad plot holes that that one could drive a semi-truck through in Avengers: Endgame, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Though Avengers: Endgame came out in April of 2019, its directors and screenwriters are still out there making addendums to their final work long after they turned it in. We’ve heard their explanations for various inconsistencies and irregularities for months, and their curious, mind-bending updates to canon (Peggy Carter was always married to Steve Rogers? Sure, Jan).

The latest tidbit from co-writer Christopher Markus is particularly infuriating—but at least it’s honest?

In Avengers: Endgame, one of the cooler moments for many fans comes when we get to see Captain America wield Thor’s mighty hammer Mjölnir. Such a moment was hinted at going back all the way to the unfortunate Age of Ultron, when none of the other Avengers can lift the hammer, but it budges a bit under Steve’s grip. If anyone outside of Thor should be worthy to wield Mjölnir it’s Steve, so it was a fun and exhilarating scene in Endgame‘s battle when he comes to the rescue with the hammer in hand, lightning a’crackling.

There’s just one potential problem continuity-wise. In Thor: Ragnarok, after the evil Hela destroys Mjölnir, a significant part of the plot hinges on our hero coming to realize that the power of lightning was inside him all along, not contingent on possessing the hammer. It’s established that Mjölnir is merely a conduit, rather than the source of Thor’s lightning power. “Are you Thor, the God of Hammers?” Thor’s departed father Odin asks him dryly in a vision. So if the lightning is in Thor, not the hammer, how could Steve use it also?

Comicbookmovie.com reports on a recent interview with Endgame‘s writers. When asked why Steve was able to wield Thor’s lightning, Markus said:

“There was certainly a debate at one point because particularly in Ragnarok, it establishes that Thor can summon the lightning without the hammer,” co-writer Christopher Markus says. “I think Odin even says, ‘It was never the hammer.’ And yet Cap summons the lightning with the hammer. You get to those things and you’re like, ‘It’s too awesome not to do it! We’ll talk about it later.'”

In other words, don’t expect this to be explained at any point in the MCU’s near future!

In other words, rather than trying to explain a plotting choice, it was simply deemed “too awesome not to do” and that’s that. What’s particularly weird about this is that the actual canonical comics history of Thor’s hammer allows for a variety of interpretations. The inscription on Mjölnir reads, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” (Or she, as the case may be.)

Some characters, when they lift Mjölnir, have received the full gamut or Thor-ian powers. Others have simply proven worthy enough to lift the hammer. All Markus really had to say was that Mjölnir temporarily gave Steve access to all of Thor’s powers while he was using it. That’s literally what it says on the tin.

It’s not surprising to me, however, that not a lot of thought appears to have gone into this plot point beyond “sweet, let’s do it, and let someone else figure it out later.” Markus and his co-writer Stephen McFeely did not seem particularly interested in the Thor mythos or the character’s development in the MCU when they set out to write Infinity War and Endgame.

In Infinity War, Thor, inexplicably hampered by a metal binding (this guy can call lightning hammer-less, guys), watches his friends and people get slaughtered, then spends 90% of the movie questing after a giant magical weapon—after Ragnarok‘s painstaking message that he did not need a magical weapon. They then heaped blame on Thor for “failing” to kill Thanos with his giant magical weapon before he could use the Gauntlet, even though all of Endgame is contingent on Thanos having used the Gauntlet. The character seems to devolve from his development in Ragnarok, and that’s long before he’s turned into a punchline for much of Endgame.

At least it’s almost nice to hear an honest answer to a plot hole question. Markus didn’t try for some sleight of hand in explaining, or create a new canon reality on the spot out of whole cloth. He tells the truth: they felt like doing the scene, so they did. Awesome.

(via Comicbookmovie.com, images: Marvel Studios)

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Ming-Na Wen in The Mandalorian

image: Disney

What else did you see out there today?

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.