On many occasions, we have spoken about the close correlation with the rising popularity of Norse mythology. This is one of those moments when we reflect on the influence that popular culture has on our everlasting interest in the Viking pantheon. Specifically, we are going to talk about the scene from the movie Avengers Endgame when Steve Rogers, more commonly known as Captain America (played by Chris Evans), manages to lift Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.
Of course, if someone hasn't watched Avengers Endgame, it is wise to stay away from this article as it obviously contains spoilers for Avengers Endgame as well as Avengers Age of Ultron, possibly even for X men as well. Also, most of the Marvel films about Steve Rogers/Captain America. Actually, this article is the best to read after watching most MCU films.
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First, we should mention a couple of things about the Mjolnir as we know it from Norse mythology. It was crafted by the dwarves Brokkr and Eitri, who were tricked by the God Loki and later gifted to Thor. The myth about Thor's hammer never specifies that no one is able to lift it. Because Thor is that mighty, it is assumed that most other gods and creatures from the pantheon wouldn't be able to lift it.
In fact, some manage to lift Mjolnir, notably the creators Brokkr and Eitri, probably Loki when he gifts it to Thor, Thrym, the giant when he steals it (a story for another time), and Thor's sons Magni and Modi who inherit the hammer from their father.
Mjolnir in Avengers
Mjolnir shows up both in comic books and in MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). The hammer has an inscription on it which says, ''Whosoever holds this hammer if they are worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.'' In comics, Captain America manages to lift Thor's hammer Mjolnir twice. Once, it was in Thor 390 in otherwise not the huge situation, and the other time was similar to the situation of Avengers Endgame when Thor gets taken out, and Captain America manages to lift it while uttering the famous rallying cry "Avengers Assemble" during the fight. While we understand the importance of comics for the community, we are here going to focus primarily on the movies here.
Avengers Age of Ultron
In Avengers Age of Ultron, we have a first hint that one day captain America could be able to lift the weapon in a scene when Avengers sit around the table and try to lift Mjolnir. Each attempt is met with complete failure until Steve Rogers tries to lift the hammer. At first glance, it seems like he failed completely as well, but if you look closely, you can notice that Cap could move the hammer a little bit which shows a look of shock on Thor's face. That there is the first moment when we see the possibility of Captain America managing to wield Mjolnir one day as Thor himself. It is important to stress once more that wielding the hammer has nothing to do with physical strength. The only thing that is important is the worthiness of a man or woman that tries to lift it.
In Ragnarok, Thor and Doctor Strange are trying to find Odin. When they finally find Odin, he tells Thor and Loki that they have a sister Hela who would try to take over everything after his death. Soon after there, Hela came. At one point in the fight, Thor tries to throw Mjolnir at her, but she just destroys it easily. At that point, it seemed that Captain America would never get the opportunity to lift Thor's hammer.
Eitri, a dwarf who created Mjolnir, created a Stormbreaker for Thor, a powerful ax. And for some time, that was that. Mjolnir was sort of forgotten.
Avengers Infinity War
Then came Avengers Infinity War. Avengers were fighting Thanos and, everyone thought that like every time, good guys are going to win, evil Thanos will be defeated, and peace will last on Earth. Unfortunately, this didn't happen, and the film ended in possibly the most shocking ending of all Marvel films, with Thanos destroying half of the universe's population. Among those who remained were Tony Stark (Iron Man), Thor, and Captain America. Many were destroyed, including Spiderman, almost the entire crew of the Guardians of the Galaxy, T'Challa, and many others.
After this depressing ending came to the last movie so far, Avengers Endgame (or Avengers 4). The world is in chaos after the ending of Avengers 3 (known in the world as the Snap. Many are gone, and the world is united in sadness. The remains of the Avengers meet from time, but there is an overwhelming sense of dread and depression. Aside from all that, Tony Stark's practically retired and not interested in righting the wrongs. When they go to Thor's village, they find him in a horrible state. He let himself go, became very fat, and started drinking and playing video games all day, blaming himself for the death of his friends. The return of Ant-Man in the films brings a great change of pace since they realize that there is a possibility of time travel. When they go to enlist Tony Stark's help in making a time-traveling machine, he refuses them at first. After they leave, he changes his mind and finds out that time travel is, in fact, possible. They gather the remaining avengers and decide to collect the infinity stones, which would help them resurrect their fallen friends.
See our article on: What Is The Meaning Of A Viking Hammer Necklace
While gathering stones, Thor's returned to 2013, where one of the stones is located, and Mjolnir is not destroyed. In order to affirm himself, he summons the hammer which comes to him, proving to everyone, including himself, that he is able to lift the hammer, consequently meaning that he is still worthy. He then carries the hammer to 2023, where they try to resurrect everyone and defeat the Mad Titan once and for all.
At the end of the movie, there is a huge battle scene where Thor's unable to kill Thanos after he makes him drop his hammer. At that moment, Thanos tries to kill him, and the situation looks really bad. While the battle between them continues, we notice that Mjolnir is slightly rising (to the collective gasp of fans in cinemas). Then, in a lightning-fast move, we can see Mjolnir moving fast into Captain America's hands while the lighting hits it (there are many videos online of fans screaming at this exact moment). Look on Thor's face at that moment is precious, and he yells I knew it, telling us that this was the moment he expected probably since Avengers Age of Ultron. It is one of the turning points of the battle and is maybe the most recognizable scene from the film (aside from the "I am Iron Man" part).
How Did he Lift Thor's Hammer?
There is one easy explanation for this. Simply, Steve Rogers is worthy. Now, it comes the next question. If he was worthy to lift Thor's hammer now, why couldn't he do it in Age of Ultron? The answer to that question is pretty complex, but among many possible explanations, one is very likely.
In Captain America The Winter Soldier, Cap finds out that his friend Bucky Barnes was the one who killed Tony Stark's parents. In order to protect his friend, Steve Rogers said nothing of the incident, but that weighed heavily upon him. That doesn't mean that Cap wasn't worthy at all. He simply wasn't worthy enough to lift Mjolnir. At the end of Avengers Civil War, the truth comes to light, and the fate of Tony's parents becomes known when Captain America tells him, and that serves as the main moment when that heaviness lifts from his chests. The problem is, after that, there is no Mjolnir around.
The first chance Captain America gets is at the end of Avengers Endgame since that is the moment when Thor's hammer is returned to their reality. Cap being able to wield one of the most exciting moments and best scenes in Marvel movies.
Everyone who was following Captain America from the beginning knew that he was just a small, scrawny kid with a big heart and the willingness to prove himself. When at the end of Avengers Endgame, Captain America finally managed to lift the mighty hammer, it showed to fans that everything is possible for everyone. True worthiness is not in the muscles. Captain America's achievement proved that.
Of course, it is clear to everyone that Marvel films are fiction and that comic books do not show real life, but MCU gives us a really important life lesson. If Cap Steve managed to do that marvel (pun intended), then everyone possesses the same inside them. And if that is not a great lesson, we really don't know what is.