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Consistently across the Marvel version of Thor's various incarnations only the 'worthy' may lift Mjolnir, his enchanted hammer.

The inscription reads, "Whosoever holds this hammer, be he worthy, shall posses the power of Thor."

In the movie, of course, a large part of the story is centered upon Thor

becoming worthy.

In the comics and crossovers, many people have been able to wield Mjolnir, including Storm, Captain America, Beta-Ray Bill, Conan, a random paramedic (who hands it to an astonished Thor, laying on a stretcher), and Wonder Woman.

However, Superman wields it briefly in one crossover, but then can't lift it. Thor says Odin had briefly lifted the enchantment to allow Big Blue to use it.

So what determines one's 'worth' to the hammer? I know Superman is a Dick and all, but that Alternative Character Interpretation is hardly canon.

  • 2
    Worthiness to wield Mjolnir is a Stan Lee invention, the original Mjölnir is a fascinating study all on its own. – Athena Widget Dec 2 '15 at 3:49
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    @AthenaWidget: Granted, the mythological hammer did not have any such restrictions (though I believe it was heavy enough that only Thor could use it one-handed, as its short handle made necessary). That said, this question is not regarding the mythological hammer, only the Marvel one. It's had the referenced properties since the character was created, IIRC. – Jeff Dec 2 '15 at 14:23
  • Agreed. I was trying to add a little flavor to this fascinating topic. I'll remove that comment if it detracts. – Athena Widget Dec 2 '15 at 14:28
  • Last I heard, that superdickery website was massively virus-infested. Has it been cleaned? – pleurocoelus May 24 '16 at 13:48
  • @pleurocoelus: So far as I know? I actually haven't been on it in a while. – Jeff May 24 '16 at 23:27
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From what I've read up about it, the worth is determined by Odin. The person has to be worthy in Odin's eyes, or be able to break the enchantment that Odin placed on the hammer. What Odin considers worthy I guess is just up to his personal opinion and can probably change with his emotions or what have you.

Wikipedia on Mjolnir

  • 57
    I think you mean 'worthy in Odin's eye'. – Katey HW Dec 13 '11 at 22:14
  • 12
    @KateyHW - Eye see what you did there. – Valorum May 2 '15 at 9:22
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    If its all based on Odin's opinions, how come Odin didn't stop Thor from using his hammer in Thor 2, when Thor left Asgard to find Malekith? – Howzieky Oct 29 '16 at 19:18
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    Odin doesn't decide. The worthiness is his opinion of the person, and not what they do. Thor kept to his values when finding Chris Eccleston and so was able to weild the hammer – yolo Jun 22 '18 at 20:16
10

Strictly from the Marvel Universe perspective
Since the time (Jul 1 '11 at 15:23) the OP asked the question there has been some new developments, that leads us to an astonishing conclusion. It is not Mjolnir that determines the worth of the wielder. But it is the wielder who determines their own worth to wield the mighty weapon.

Original Sin #7 (Aug 27, 2014) shows Nick Fury whispering to Thor.

Later, Nick Fury whispers an unrevealed secret to Thor that causes him to lose the ability to pick up his hammer.1

1Italic added

Fury Whispers to the Son of Odin

After which the God of Thunder is rendered incapable of lifting his primary weapon.

enter image description here

What that whisper was is still a mystery as of this writing, its revelation may shed even further light on this fascinating and age old question.

  • 2
    For what it's worth, what Nick Fury whispered has been revealed. However, this doesn't prove the wielder is the one determining worth. At best it shows the wielder won't be able to lift Mjolnir if they consider themselves unworthy, but not that they will be able to lift it if they do -- Mjolnir may still have something to say about that. – Jeroen Mostert Jun 6 '17 at 15:03
5

I always felt that some sort of honorable soul of the warrior deal was at work with that one, a willingness to kill and die for the right reasons, something Superman isn't (primarily not a warrior, he has killed but not without deep consequence to his conscience ergo the 'Odin clause' if you like, was needed in the emergency that was the JLA/Avengers crossover.

Use Captain America as your benchmark and you have a short list of who's worthy.

  • Welcome to the site. Have anything in the material(s) to backup that feeling ? – Stan Aug 9 '13 at 3:06
  • Hi sorry for the late reply, life gets in the way. As an aside, love the site! I just feel that everyone who's ever been 'worthy' has been a soldier/warrior type always a step away from being a leader of men but always leads by example. Cap is a good example. – Lead Sharp Sep 14 '13 at 1:19
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    @LeadSharp: The paramedic, who picked it up and handed it to a shocked, battered Thor on his stretcher wasn't a warrior or a leader. – Jeff Oct 5 '13 at 20:33
3

I'm sure no one will like this answer, but it's a freaking Deus ex Machina. Mjolnir decides who is worthy depending on the writer's needs.

0

I believe what makes an individual worthy is the same characteristics that make a greaat person, selflessness, courage, honor, and the willingness the sacrifice ones self for the greater good. Pure of heart and intention. Ask yourself, why did Odin take it from Thor? and what what the expectation for Thor to get it back.

  • 2
    While this would make a nice comment, it lacks the supporting evidence necessary for it to qualify as a valid answer. You should edit your answer to either quote the sources you derived this answer from, or elaborate on your analysis and reasoning of canon material that led to this conclusion. – thegreatjedi May 8 '16 at 10:18
0

I think it is an issue of integrity, something that much of our culture has forgotten unfortunately to do the right thing even when no one is looking. Which also connect to being honorable just and selfless. Traits like selfishness, greed, andvarrogance are traits that would not allow one to hold the hammer. While traits of humility, kindness, generosity and most importantly self denial and self-sacrifice, are traits that would allow one to lift the hammer. If you look at the characteristics that allowed anyone who held the hammer to hold it you will notice these traits. The paramedic is a good example look at how they are in a job that at anytime could but themselves in harmed was they respond to fires, shootings and bombings when there is no guarantee that the situation is safe yet and they are unarmed you cannot protect himself of danger still lurks in the shadows. Then consider Captain America who was always self sacrificing even to the extent of throwing himself on what he thought was a live grenade. The people who have held the hammer pit themselves in harms was with out even stopping to thing about what their giving up...in the movie when Thor could hold it again he had been humbled, kind and finally walked out with out hesitation and offered up his life to save others...I guess even better yet is to say sacrificial love.

  • Do you have anything official to back this up? Without that, it's just speculation. – Rogue Jedi May 24 '16 at 23:43

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