79

Especially in the beginning of the first movie, Thor is brash and often petulant. He seeks the glory of king-hood without understanding or accepting the self-sacrifice and responsibility that such a role requires. He is brave, yet selfish.

My question is Why was Thor worthy? I would think that some nice, selfless guy should be able to lift Mjolnir, but it is portrayed as some rare trait of extreme virtue that only Thor and perhaps a couple others possess.

Because Thor himself doesn't appear to be excessively virtuous, it seems like the power to lift Mjolnir was endowed on him, not earned by him, so why all this pretense about worthiness?

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    We have several questions about how Mjolnir determines worthiness. In short, it's inconsistently portrayed. – Valorum Jun 5 '17 at 19:39
  • @Valorum I disagree about the closure. This question is about Thor's qualities. The other question discusses Mjolnir's quirks. The answers here are more on-point. – Gallifreyan Jun 5 '17 at 20:00
  • @Gallifreyan - yes, but the top answer here is unsourced and also (possibly) incorrect. – Valorum Jun 5 '17 at 20:03
  • @Valorum Does it change the fact that the two questions are completely different, and the other question doesn't have good and sourced answers as well? – Gallifreyan Jun 5 '17 at 20:05
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    @Valorum No, the dupe target asks for Mjolnir's criteria for worthiness (and has no definitive answer). This question asks about how Thor fits the criteria (and has an answer that makes sense). – Gallifreyan Jun 5 '17 at 20:09
28

Odin fully believed Thor was worthy to take his place on the throne as King. It was only once Odin deemed Thor unworthy of being King that he lost the ability to wield Mjolnir.


Previously, both myself and KutuluMike argued that Thor's hammer hadn't been enchanted at the beginning of Thor. However, Valorum found this quote from Odin before Thor loses his hammer.

ODIN (CONT'D): So long entrusted with this mighty hammer, Mjolnir. Forged in the heart of a dying star, from the sacred metal of Uru. Only one may lift it. Only one is worthy. Who wields this hammer commands the lightning and the storm. Its power has no equal -- as a weapon, to destroy, or as a tool, to build. It is a fit companion for a King.

Thor Transcript via The Internet Movie Script Database

This implies that Odin believed his son was worthy to wield Mjolnir at the start of Thor. We see Odin define what he believes are the essential virtues for a ruler as he prepared to crown Thor King of Asgard.

ODIN: Today I entrust you with the greatest honor in all the Nine Realms. The sacred throne of Asgard. I have sacrificed much to achieve peace. So, too, must a new generation sacrifice to maintain that peace. Responsibility, duty, honor. These are not merely virtues to which we must aspire. They are essential to every soldier and to every King.

Thor turns back to face his father. Odin looks upon his son with pride.

You see these beliefs again when Odin has Thor take his vows, emphasizing the preservation of peace between worlds.

ODIN (CONT'D): Thor Odinson, do you swear to guard the Nine Realms?

THOR: I swear.

ODIN: Do you swear to preserve the peace?

THOR: I swear.

ODIN: Do you swear to cast aside all selfish ambition and pledge yourself only to the good of all the Realms?

THOR: I swear.

After Thor betrayed his father's trust by disobeying a direct order and attacking the frost giants, his father deemed Thor unworthy of wielding Mjolnir.

ODIN: Thor Odinson... You have disobeyed the express command of your King. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you have opened these peaceful Realms and innocent lives to the horrors of war.

You are unworthy of this Realm... unworthy of your title... unworthy of the loved ones you've betrayed. I hereby take from you your powers.

Odin extends his hand towards his son. Mjolnir goes flying from Thor's grasp into Odin's hand.

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    If only one may lift it, how do you explain it being lifted by Vision later? – phantom42 Jun 6 '17 at 10:42
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    @phantom42: that's another question. The answers are not in contradiction with Odin's intent, though possibly with his implementation of the concept. – Jeroen Mostert Jun 6 '17 at 11:46
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    Note that even if Odin really says "only one may lift it", this would still not necessarily pose any problem with Vision lifting it, because, as the linked question explains, androids like Vision may be a loophole, being able to lift Mjolnir without being worthy (and thus not gaining any of its powers). Aside from all that, at the time Odin says it he has not yet altered Mjolnir to "whosoever, if he be worthy", and Vision only lifts it afterwards. It could have been "Thor only, even if he be unworthy" before. – Jeroen Mostert Jun 6 '17 at 13:22
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    Interestingly, when I read every quote in your answer, if I ignore the bold sections, I see something different. Odin makes a big deal out of peace. Thor, in fighting the frost giants, broke the peace, and became unworthy. In defending the town, he fought for peace, and was once again worthy. – Scott Mermelstein Jun 7 '17 at 14:20
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    It's important to note Vision isn't just an android, he has a friggin Infinity stone in his forehead, which is probably much more powerful than Mjolnir or anyone who crafted it. It's entirely possible the stone's power overwhelms any enchantment on the hammer. – Drunken Code Monkey Jun 8 '17 at 3:51
101

At the beginning of the movie Thor, Mjolnir is not enchanted. It's just Thor's war hammer, built for him by whoever makes Asgardian weapons. He uses it because it's his, with no other particular requirements.

After the fiasco with the Frost Giants, Odin places an enchantment on the weapon -- this is what he's doing when he whispers into the hammer, just before sending both it and Thor to Earth. You can see this in the Thor Transcript.

      Odin holds Mjolnir in his hand, stares at it bitterly. He
      closes his eyes, lost in contemplation, whispers something
      quietly.

      ODIN (CONT'D)

                     (WHISPERING)
      Whosoever holds this hammer, if he
      be worthy, shall possess the power
      of Thor.
      RUNES appear on the side of the hammer, as if carved into its
      smooth surface. The runes linger for but a moment, then
      disappear. Suddenly, Odin turns and hurls the hammer into
      the Bifrost.

At this point, Thor isn't worthy of the weapon, as we can see when he tries to lift it and fails.

By the end of the movie, his character has grown more humble and more worthy by nature of having to confront his own flaws. When he finally

sacrifices his life to save the town

he becomes worthy of the hammer, and remains so from then on.


It's important to note that the definition of "worthy" here is the Asgardian definition. There are likely things about it that may seem unusual to us, but imagine as a rough estimate what a Viking might think of as worthy. Being brave in battle, being able to defeat enemies, defending the weak and helpless, putting yourself in harms way for the sake of others, etc. These are the things that appear to qualify as worthy.

Being obnoxious, or a braggart, or a drunk, or promiscuous -- none of these things really detract from someone's "worthiness" to wield a weapon of battle. They may be things that we see as detrimental to someone's personality, but in the eyes of Odin's enchantment, as long as that person continues to exhibit the virutes it cares about, everything else is irrelevant.

Also note that, at least in the source material, many other people are equally as worthy as Thor to wield Mjolnir. Besides Vision, we haven't seen that happen in the MCU yet, but there was a hint of it in Age of Ultron -- Steve Rogers did move Mjolnir ever so slightly from its resting place. This wasn't a mistake either -- the camera cuts to Thor who clearly noticed and was worried, before relaxing when Rogers fails to lift it. Whether this was just an Easter Egg for comics fans, or it was a hook for future development, remains to be seen.

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    This version of events isn't borne out by the novelisation. It states that the hammer could already only be lifted by one who was worthy; "Odin’s thoughts were interrupted by another gasp from the crowd. Then the room erupted in applause. The mighty Thor had arrived. Thor raised Mjolnir, the hammer that only the worthy could lift, high over his head and soaked in the adoration.". In the 'enchantment' scene, Odin appears to be reminding Mjolnir what the magic entails and that it should wait until Thor is worthy again before being wielded. – Valorum Jun 5 '17 at 19:52
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    @Valorum I was explicitly asking about the movie. I tagged it with marvel-cinematic-universe. – BlackThorn Jun 5 '17 at 20:34
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    what a Viking might think of as worthy. [...] defending the weak and helpless, I am not very sure about this one, I see it more related to the chivalry code than to the Viking one. – SJuan76 Jun 5 '17 at 20:36
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    @Valorum From the official Thor transcript: Odin holds Mjolnir in his hand, stares at it bitterly. He closes his eyes, lost in contemplation, whispers something quietly. ODIN (CONT'D): "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." – Stevoisiak Jun 5 '17 at 22:21
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    Am I the only one who realizes that the line, as written, does not prevent anyone from lifting Mjolnir? It simply makes a worthy-lifter ALSO gain Thor's powers? i.e. if Captain Rogers lifted it, he wouldn't just be a human with a neat hammer. – Plutor Jun 6 '17 at 10:46
1

Despite Thor's brash personality he has fought for justice and saved many people from foreign worlds and defended Asgard and Earth. He is worthy to be king but realize his time is spent answering the call to protect vulnerable populations throughout the nine world and other galaxies thereby being absent from Asgard. Odin All Father has gifted him with Mjolnir to use as a weapon to build or to destroy. Mjolnir is made from the powered essence of a dying star. It can only be lifted by those that are worthy. Thor is extremely worthy by his very nature and by his great deeds.

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    This doesn't explain why Thor would then cease to be worthy after fighting the Frost Giants – Stevoisiak Jun 5 '17 at 22:56
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    I'm not sure this answer says anything meaningful, really. It just says "Thor defended people and so he's worthy." You could apply that to literally millions of people on this planet alone. – Ellesedil Jun 6 '17 at 19:12
0

From what the MCU has shown us, it seems that Mjolnir's main qualification for worthiness is that the one who wields it must have peace and safety as the overall goal of their life, making great sacrifices in the name of it, including the sacrifice of their own life.

The moment that Thor once again became worthy in Thor was the moment that he was willing to lay his own life down for Earth, a planet which he had hardly any connection to at the time. He wanted to save not only Jane, but as he stated to Coulson, the entirety of Earth, even though earth was an unfamiliar place. That shows serious devotion to peace for its own sake.

Odin is worthy of wielding the hammer as well, as his conversations with Thor have shown that he desires peace and coexistence above anything else.

Mjolnir chooses people who inherently want to see peace and will do anything they must to find peace in every situation. Mjolnir presents itself as a tool for this peace.

-1

From the original transcript Odin says "only one is worthy, only one can lift it". He does not explicitly say "anyone can be worthy, anyone can lift it". When Thor is deemed unworthy, Odin strips him of his power and enchants it to Mjolnir. When he is worthy again he will lift the hammer and gain his power back. We do not know that the enchantment is everlasting. We do know that Thor has his godly powers when he isn't wielding the hammer after he is deemed worthy again. Do you really think Odin would allow for the power of a god to be stumbled across by any one else other than the one he intended? No. Thor is the only one who is worthy. Odin handed it down to him in that way.

  • 3
    This is a decent answer until the end. I'd recommend removing "Do you really..." to the end, then also providing a source for the quote you included from the transcript – amflare Oct 26 '17 at 17:12

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