Chris Hemsworth as Thor

How Does Mjolnir Determine Worthiness? Thor’s Hammer, Explained

Of all the mystical and magical artifacts and weapons in the Marvel universe, Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, is one of the most recognizable and intriguing. Mjolnir is practically synonymous with Thor’s identity. It is his weapon of choice, as well as the object that tells him if he is truly worthy. After all, the hammer cannot be wielded by any living being, unless they are deemed worthy enough to lift it. In Thor, Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), temporarily lost his ability to lift it at a low point in his life. However, when he was willing to sacrifice himself to stop Loki (Tom Hiddleston), he regained his worthiness.

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In both the comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, several characters besides Thor have lifted Mjolnir. In the MCU, Captain America (Chris Evans) was deemed worthy and can be seen handling Mjolnir, though he initially pretended not to be able to lift it. Additionally, Vision (Paul Bettany) also easily held Mjolnir, proving to the Avengers he was trustworthy. As Thor: Love and Thunder approaches its theatrical release, we know that Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) will wield Mjolnir in it, too.

At one point, Mjolnir was both wielded and destroyed by Hela (Cate Blanchett) in Thor: Ragnarok. However, in Avengers: Endgame, Thor retrieves a Mjolnir from an alternate timeline, thus, bringing it back into the MCU. Fans are eagerly awaiting its return in Thor: Love and Thunder and the specifics of how Foster got ahold of it. As yet another MCU character becomes worthy of Mjolnir, it raises the question of how worthiness is determined.

Thor’s Hammer, explained

The specifics of how Mjolnir determines or defines worthiness have always been pretty vague. However, its origin story shines a light on the most logical explanation. Mjolnir was created from a chunk of Uru from a moon that was shattered during a battle. Several pieces were claimed by the dwarves of Nidavellir, and one chunk was given to Odin as a gift. Shortly after this, he battled with the God Tempest, who is the mother of all storms. In order to defeat the God Tempest, Odin trapped the living storm within the chunk of Uru.

God Tempest remained trapped in the Uru even after the blacksmiths, Eitri, Brokk, and Buri, forged it into the hammer, Mjolnir. In fact, the God Tempest, despite being trapped, was still hard to manage. Even Odin himself struggled to control it. As a result, he cast an enchantment on Mjolnir to prevent anyone from wielding it. Only those who are deemed worthy can bypass Odin’s enchantment.

Considering that the enchantment was initially cast by Odin, one explanation is that it isn’t Mjolnir, but rather Odin who determines worthiness. It is presumed that Odin utilized and invoked his own definition of worthiness when creating Mjolnir and casting the enchantment. Hence, Mjolnir determines worthiness based on Odin’s definition of worthiness. However, since Mjolnir also has a conscious being within it, in the form of God Tempest, another likely explanation is that it is God Tempest that determines the worthiness.

Worthiness determined by the wielder?

Cate Blanchett as Hela in Thor Ragnarok
(Marvel)

While Odin or God Tempest are two likely explanations, there are other fan theories that exist. One popular fan theory posits that worthiness is determined by the wielder. Essentially, if one believes themselves to be worthy, then they are worthy. These are individuals who are fully accepting and honest about themselves. They have no self-doubt and are wholly confident in their beliefs. This explains perfectly why Thor, Cap, and Vision are worthy—because they believe wholeheartedly in their preservation of life and that they are doing the right thing. This theory also explains why Hela could lift Mjolnir because, although she was evil, she was confident and sure of her beliefs.

Every other character in the MCU is plagued by their past, has some skeletons in their closets, struggles with self-doubt, or is constantly battling between good and evil within. The theory definitely is intriguing and switches things up by putting worthiness in the mind of the wielder. However, it is still just a theory, as are all other explanations of Mjolnir. It remains to be seen if there will ever be a true confirmation of how exactly Mjolnir determines worthiness.

(featured image: Marvel)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.