# Why isn't Captain America worthy of Mjolnir?

I haven't see the movie yet, but in the trailer, we can see Cap trying to lift Mjolnir in the humorous scene where every Avenger gives it a try.

Mjolnir even moves just a tiny bit and at this very moment we see Thor's smile disappearing. This, of course, is intended as a humorous and lighthearted scene.

But it got me thinking: why isn't Captain America worthy of Mjolnir? He seems to be the most "perfect" human being anyone can be: brave, not selfish, legitimate leader, prompt to sacrifice (as seen in the first movie, when he jumps on a fake grenade).

I ask this question in light of this very specific scene, but I'm interested in the Marvel Universe (and Marvel Cinematic Universe) as a whole. Maybe Captain America did wield Mjolnir once? Maybe he has some individual flaw I am not aware of that makes him unworthy?

• He picked up fight with Ironman: "Big Man in a metal suit." – Captain Cold Apr 22 '15 at 16:16
• I saw a headcanon concept (definitely NOT official) that in that scene, Steve COULD lift Mjolnir. If you watch closely, he sort of brushes the handle with his fingers before very theatrically trying to lift it. The idea is that he bumped it slightly, realized he could move it, but then decided to pretend he couldn't because he didn't want to show-up his friend at a party. Obviously just a fan-concept, but it's in-character for Steve and fun to imagine. – Nerrolken Apr 22 '15 at 16:37
• Part of the probes here is we still don't know how mjolnir determines worth. Steve may be a super man and be worthy of many things, but may not be worthy of the powers of a god. – phantom42 Apr 22 '15 at 16:43
• You have it backwards. It was Mjolnir that wasn't worthy of Cap, not the other way around. – Darth Hunterix Apr 25 '15 at 20:52
• Well, it could still be really heavy. You could be an absolute saint and be worthy of two tons of gold, but that doesn't mean you could lift it. – Misha R May 15 '15 at 5:59

The Russo brothers recently revealed that they interpreted the scene in that he could always lift it but just chose not to as we see in this answer by @galacticninja.

GeneralBenKenobi: Could Cap always wield Mjolnir (meaning he could have picked it up in Age of Ultron and decided not to), or did he progressively get more worthy over time?

Russo_Brothers: Anthony: He always could. Our interpretation of the famous scene in Ultron was that when he realized he could pick up Mjolnir he quickly chose not to, because he didn't want to embarrass Thor.

reddit, r/marvelstudios, We’re Joe and Anthony Russo, directors of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame. AMA!

However, it is worth pointing out that before they said this Kevin Feige answered this in a reddit AMA stating that he could always lift it and was just being polite to not ruin the lighthearted moment that was that scene.

KrazzyDJ: Cap lifting Mjolnir was one of the strongest (crowd-cheering) moments in Endgame. Does he become worthy in that moment or has he been worthy for a while since, say, Avengers: Age of Ultron?

KevFeige: We think he was always worthy and was being polite in Age of Ultron.

reddit, r/marvelstudios, Hi reddit, I'm Kevin Feige. AMAA

If we go into an in universe perspective we find out that Thor believed Cap could always wield Mjolnir. First off his reaction to seeing Mjolnir move in the scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron seems to show that he is aware of what happened. Later in Avengers: Endgame he says he was aware that Cap could wield Mjolnir back in that scene when we actually see it happen.

Thor: I knew it!

Avengers: Endgame

Just to address the other part of the question Cap has wielded Mjolnir on several occasions in the comics. The very first time he does this I believe is in Thor Issue 390 when Captain America wields Mjolnir in order to give it back to Thor. Later on after the battle Thor and Cap both hold Mjolnir's handle whilst talking about the bond that now binds them. In particular the last panel appears to be what you are looking for.

Click image to enlarge.

Near the end of the Fear Itself comic series in Issue 7 we see Steve once again lift Mjolnir.

Click image to enlarge.

After this point things get a bit weird and Cap wields Mjolnir in the Secret Empire series. To cut a long story short Cap is brainwashed by Hydra who have changed Mjonir's inscription to read:

Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be strongest, shall posses the power of Hydra.

It goes through some hoops but eventually Cap is freed and fights the Hydra Cap and in the battle wields Mjolnir before giving it to Lady Thor.

Click image to enlarge.

The last instance in the comics that I am aware of is in What If? X-Men Age of Apocalypse where Cap wields Mjolnir all the way through. What is interesting is that in this story Cap can also use Thor's lightning powers.

Click image to enlarge.

My interpretation was a little different than yours. When other characters try to move Mjolnir, it doesn't move at all. When Captain America tries to move it, it moves.

I think he probably doesn't pick it up, because he knows this is supposed to be a light-hearted moment, and he doesn't want to cause Thor any embarrassment, or cause conflict. Now he knows he's worthy, Thor knows, and he's made his point.

I guess we'll see when the movie comes out...

Update after seeing Avengers: Endgame. There is a scene in the latter film which specifically calls back to this scene from Age Of Ultron, and boy howdy, do I feel vindicated.

• This would be cool if it's true. – Clyde Apr 22 '15 at 16:41
• I'm hoping there's a scene in the movie where he does wield it. – Adam Davis Apr 22 '15 at 17:07
• @AdamDavis: I'm hoping there's a scene where they weaponize the Mjollnir-vs-shield shockwave effect. I spent the entire Battle of New York waiting for them to find a way to use that against the Chitauri, but they never did! :( – Mason Wheeler Apr 22 '15 at 18:52
• I don't think Steve looks like he's aware of the fact.. From that clip atleast. Maybe the full scene in the movie could look different... – Stark07 Apr 23 '15 at 8:24
• So I finally saw the movie. I really didn't feel like he could have lifted it. – Kalissar Apr 27 '15 at 7:41

I've heard people say they thought it was because when he tried to pick it up, it was for the wrong reason. They were playing a game in the scene, trying to see if anyone could pick it up. People speculate if it was for a more serious reason, instead of a game/showy reason like in the scene, he would pick it up.

Edit: We know in comics he has picked it up before, so he definitely has the ability to, or at least the potential.

• +1. This is the most common story I've heard. The other idea I hear often is that Steve, frankly, isn't violent enough. Mjolnir requires humility, hence Thor's quest for worthiness, but it is also a weapon of the god of the Vikings: Steve might just not have quite enough Klingon blood for Mjolnir's taste. – Nerrolken Apr 22 '15 at 16:39
• It also makes me wonder if there's a connection to the worthiness of the current wielder. In most cases of others picking up the hammer, Thor is in some way incapacitated or "not worthy". – user31178 Apr 22 '15 at 19:37
• If context matters and showing off / playing a game is an unworthy action, doesn't this raise the question of why this doesn't seem to apply to Thor? Why is it that for anyone else to lift it they have to be extraordinarily worthy and have an extraordinary urgent need for the hammer, but Thor can use it as his daily driver? – Random832 Apr 22 '15 at 20:59
• @Random832 need to re-watch the scene. But he might possibly be just letting everyone else try and not really showing off that he is the only one. Or another possible answer is once you initially pick it up you can now pick it up until deemed unworthy(making a big mistake). All of these are guesses, until the movies comes out we'll not likely know. – Clyde Apr 22 '15 at 21:08
• Snip. Comments (which were becoming decidedly not nice) have been removed. – Valorum Apr 24 '15 at 5:42

### Captain America COULD be worthy, but in that moment, NOT worthy enough to wield the hammer. When Mjolnir has been wielded by others, it is usually a moment of extreme peril and then the "almost worthy" can level up, temporarily to become "worthy-for-the-moment."

• Several times in the canon Marvel Universe, Mjolnir has been lifted by Captain America and others but this is usually "in extremis." These would be situations where the Hammer is what is needed to solve the problem and the enchantment is temporarily lifted so that a "nearly worthy individual" can make the grade.

• Captain America and Superman have both "made the cut at least once."

• But as Thor points out a few seconds after the action has ended: "There is an enchantment 'pon my hammer laid by my father Odin. It is not... easily lifted by others. My father is stern, Superman. But not stupid. A very few worthies have been allowed to over come the spell, in desperate hours. But know this. Perhaps it was but briefly... but it was in good hands."

• Hey Thaddeus, I was waiting for an answer of yours but this one doesn't actually answer the "why isn't he worthy" part of the question. What do you mean by "Not worthy enough at this moment" ? What does he need, at this moment, to be worthy enough ? – Kalissar Apr 23 '15 at 7:54
• @Kalissar I think the comic answers that -- there has to be a need for someone else to use the hammer, and there was no need. – Matthew Read Apr 23 '15 at 12:45
• Superman with Mjolnir & Captain America's shield. Yeah, that's not overkill in the slightest. – Omegacron Apr 23 '15 at 13:56
• At the dinner party, there is no threat that cannot be handled by the current worthy user of Mjolnir, Thor. Therefore, the hammer's movement signifies the potential worthiness of Steve Rogers, but he is not engaged in a struggle where Thor is unavailable and thus remains "on standby." – Thaddeus Howze Apr 23 '15 at 21:12
• He-Man! What are you doing pretending to be Thor – Huangism Apr 27 '15 at 14:20

## Spoilers all for Avengers: Endgame

To update as of Avengers: Endgame

Captain America is indeed worthy and uses Mjolnir in the battle against Thanos.

Thor even says himself,

"I knew it."

Which implies that during the scene in Age of Ultron that Steve was worthy at that time but chose not to. This was confirmed by Anthony Russo in a Reddit AMA post, Captain America could have wielded Mjolnir in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Q: Could Cap always wield Mjolnir (meaning he could have picked it up in Age of Ultron and decided not to), or did he progressively get more worthy over time?

Anthony: He always could. Our interpretation of the famous scene in Ultron was that when he realized he could pick up Mjolnir he quickly chose not to, because he didn't want to embarrass Thor.

Kevin Feige also confirmed this in an earlier Reddit AMA.

KrazzyDJ: Cap lifting Mjolnir was one of the strongest (crowd-cheering) moments in Endgame. Does he become worthy in that moment or has he been worthy for a while since, say, Avengers: Age of Ultron?

KevFeige: We think he was always worthy and was being polite in Age of Ultron.

# Because Steve Rogers isn't worthy, yet...

Being "worthy" is pretty sketchy and is discussed to death, but the scene that actually explains this best is from the very end of Age of Ultron.

Steve Rogers: But if you put the hammer in an elevator?

Tony Stark: It'll still go up.

Steve Rogers: Elevator's not worthy.

Steve is jealous of The Vision and wants a reason why he couldn't, we expect as much from Tony, but Steve feels cheated that he "wasn't worthy". During the party he wanted to wield the hammer to show off, little more. Now Mjolnir wiggles, because we know Steve is a good person, but right then and there, his intentions were less than worthy.

Steve wanted to wield the hammer for the very same reason that Thor did when he landed on Earth:

And Thor failed here too, so why could the Vision wield it? Because he wanted to hand it to Thor to get the Avengers moving against Ultron and immediately handed it off. The Vision didn't necessarily want Mjolnir, he wanted the Avengers to work together - thats what made him worthy.

• If "showing off = unworthy", that means the contest was rigged all along. And if that is the case, then why does Thor himself gets a pass to pick up Mjolnir and toss it flamboyantly? Also, there is no reason to believe Steve is jealous or feels cheated, and it isn't necessary to explain the elevator conversation at the end of the movie. It's a simple mystery why the Vision is worthy since the contest scene established that no one else is worthy, and it is a valid question whether being artificial counts. – J Doe Feb 17 '16 at 1:30
• Vision could also simply be like the elevator, in kind and/or intent. – Cees Timmerman Jun 7 '17 at 8:54

So, after watching Avengers: Age of Ultron we now know that in MCU

Vision is consistently worthy of wielding Mjolnir, even if there is no special need or peril

and thus we can disregard any notions that it requires a moment of peril. Outside of MCU Captain America was worthy of wielding Mjolnir twice in moments of great peril, so that is where the theory came from, but for the above reason that same logic would not apply to MCU.

Now, regarding the most upvoted theory that Captain America didn't lift Mjolnir to prevent putting Thor in a hard position:

I didn't see any indication of that in the rest of the movie and I think that if that was the intended idea it would have been made abundantly clear. Do please correct me however if I am wrong, because I did not pay special attention to this.

So what does that leave us with? Honestly, I think the fairest assessment is that within the boundaries of MCU it has not been made clear why he was only able to partially move Mjolnir. One would expect it to be a binary thing: Either one is or one is not worthy to wield Mjolnir. I believe that is why Mark Bessey's theory has a lot of merit, however at best that is for now just a fan made idea.

• I've been wondering this. Vision is basically a child, he was only a day or so old by the end of the movie. He hasn't yet been subjected to his human nature. Could his innocence be what allows him to? I tried my best to be subtle while being specific with this question. – Robert Apr 27 '15 at 15:50
• @Robert Personally I don't think that would make sense, because he does have two quite 'human' natures in him. It's not like he started out from a blank slate like a child. – David Mulder Apr 28 '15 at 6:49
• Do we see Vision summoning storms, throwing lightning or controlling Mjolnir? No. Lifting Mjolnir and USING it are two different things. Vision can lift it because he is a sentient machine. He isn't "worthy" enough to gain the power of THOR, however. – Thaddeus Howze May 3 '15 at 2:23
• @Thaddeus You took that elevator discussion at the end of the movie seriously?! :O I am pretty sure that was just the two of them trying to think up excuses for why they had failed where Vision succeeded. – David Mulder May 3 '15 at 8:01
• @DavidMulder with his suits able to act independently (on autopilot without anyone inside them) you'd think that was a theory Tony could easily put to the test, I'll hope to see that happen in some future MCU offering. – Pelinore Mar 17 at 16:08

brave, not selfish, legitimate leader, prompt to sacrifice

The same can be said about Tony Stark aside from the not selfish part. He's brave, Tony's usually the first to face off against an enemy. He's a legitimate leader, he's actually the one who rallied the avengers to Cap's side in the first movie. He's also prompt to sacrifice. Remember who saved all of New York and all of the Avengers from a nuclear blast?

But more to your question. This version of Captain America isn't the same as his comic book counter-part. In the comics, Cap is perfect, or as close to perfect as he can be. In the MCU, this isn't the case. Sure, Steve is a very good human being, but he suffers from major flaws. He's extremely arrogant, almost on Thor's level from the movie Thor.

In the MCU, it's clear that Steve considers himself better than every other human on the planet. Some of his lines from the Avengers shows that. "Big man in a suit of armor, take that off and what are you?" This line alone is incredibly insulting. He's not only telling Tony that he's nothing without that suit of armor, but basically that anyone Steve feels is beneath himself is nothing. It's the equivalent of saying something along the lines of "Oh, you never served your country or gave back to your community? You're beneath me."

Again, yes, Steve is brave, heroic, and selfless, but these qualities aren't what make someone worthy. Remember, Thor had those same qualities, as does Tony(aside from the selfless part). What made Thor unworthy in the first Thor movie was a combination a a few things. His arrogance, dude thought he was untouchable, better than everyone else on Asgard, and above the law due to his heritage. Cap is almost just as arrogant. Thor also wasn't humble in the beginning. He never recognized others for assisting him, it was always his achievements, no one else's.

Cap is also extremely self righteous. Watch most of his arguments or confrontations with anyone in the movies. In his head, he's always right, it's his way or the high way and if you don't agree with him, you're wrong, end of story. This is evident by his guilt tripping of Bucky in CA:TFA. Yes, Steve was trying to do his part to help the country, but he flat out made Bucky feel like shit for trying to dissuade him from enlisting.

Bucky was trying desperately to save Steve from embarrassment, prison, and probable death. Bucky was being a good friend and even suggested other ways Steve could help the war effort, something Steve actually scoffed at(again, even before he went through the Super Soldier program, he thought he was above certain people and certain things). Like I said, he made Bucky feel horrible for trying to protect him, all because Steve felt he was right and above working in a factory to produce supplies for the troops.

Steve: "What do you want me to do, collect scrap metal in my little red wagon?"

Bucky: "Yes!"

Steve: "I'm not going to go sit in a factory. Bucky, Bucky, come on, there are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them. That's what you don't understand, this isn't about me."

Bucky: "Right. Because you got nothin to prove."

This dialogue clearly shows that Steve doesn't believe that doing something like this is worth while. Sure, his words can be considered patriotic, but Bucky sees right through him. Steve's motivations to join the military are entirely self-centered. He feels he has to prove something to the whole world. He's basically saying, "You want me to join the women folk making weapons and shoes while all the men go out and fight? Phhp. please, I can fight just as well anyone else, just watch." In face, we can add a few more unworthy qualities based on this alone. Narcissistic, self-centered, sexist....I'm sure there are many more that can be added, but I think we're around a half dozen traits that would make MCU Steve unworthy.

Now that I think about it, MCU Captain America is actually a douchebag, even more so than Tony Stark or Thor.

Steve's arrogance shows multiple more times in the movie. Ordering Col. Phillips to give him names and information, you're a Captain dude, not God. Again, The hell I can't, I'm a Captain. Pretty sure Peggy Carter's position was much higher than a newly promoted Captain.

His self righteousness is on full display in the Avengers as well. In the scene where he discovers that SHIELD is using the Tesseract to make weapons. He blatantly doesn't care that Earth's weapons are nothing compared to people like the Hulk or Thor. He doesn't care about the fact that if the Hulk were to go on a world wide rampage, that no one could stop him with their current weapons. Or if Asgard or another civilization were to attack Earth, humanity would be utterly defenseless. None of that matters, all that matters is that SHIELD is using an energy source to make these weapons. Nevermind the fact that it can advance humanity. All Steve saw was HYDRA weapons and designs and remembered what they could do. Even Fury's explanation as to why they were using the Tesseract went through one ear and out the other. To Steve, he was right, period, end of story, humanity's defense be damned.

These are the glaring reasons why Captain America is not worthy to wield Mjolnir in the MCU. He's extremely arrogant, self righteous, narcissistic, self-centered, sexist, prideful, and thinks of himself as above everyone else. These are the exact aspects that made Thor unworthy to wield the hammer in the first Thor movie. It wasn't until Thor dropped his pride, arrogance, self righteousness, and accepted his own humanity that he was able to re-wield Mjolnir. I imagine by the beginning of Age of Ultron, Cap will have started to lose his arrogance, pride, and self righteousness, which is why he's able to move the hammer, but not yet pick it up.

• Tony Stark is a heavy drinker, Steve Rogers is not, so... I would expect the Norse gods to favor Stark. – Beta Apr 25 '15 at 23:41
• “In the MCU, it's clear that Steve considers himself better than every other human on the planet.” Nope. He just has a distaste for guys like Tony Stark. – Paul D. Waite Apr 27 '15 at 8:24
• @PaulD.Waite, and yet, he considers himself above working in a factory to help the war effort. Watch the movies Captain America is in and really pay attention, you'll see that Steve really does think himself better than everyone else. – Robert Apr 27 '15 at 12:09
• I would dispute the sexist charge, Steve isn't saying women are inferior, in fact he never mentions women in that conversation, and he treats Peggy with respect when no one else will take her seriously. But otherwise I think this is a good answer that actually explains why he is unworthy. You may lay it on a little too thick though, Cap has a lot of good qualities and Mjolnir did budge for him – childcat15 Dec 8 '15 at 19:28
• "I'm not going to go sit in a factory. Bucky, Bucky, come on, there are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them. That's what you don't understand, this isn't about me."- how does "I got no right to do less them them (lay his life on the line in the ultimate sacrifice)" = "I think I'm better than people who work in factories."?? That's a odd take. – PoloHoleSet Aug 11 '16 at 18:17

According to Anthony Russo*, in a Reddit AMA (Ask me anything) post, Captain America could wield Mjolnir as far back as the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Q: Could Cap always wield Mjolnir (meaning he could have picked it up in Age of Ultron and decided not to), or did he progressively get more worthy over time?

Anthony: He always could. Our interpretation of the famous scene in Ultron was that when he realized he could pick up Mjolnir he quickly chose not to, because he didn't want to embarrass Thor.

*Anthony Russo is one of the Russo Brothers, who directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

• You might be interested to know that Feige confirmed this before the Russo brothers did and his word probably has more say on this than theirs. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 16 at 12:50

My personal theory is that Mjolnir is more than just a hammer, it's a very advanced piece of ancient celestial technology, and contains something at least equivalent to a weak AI.
We see in Thor that the hammer is able to respond to voice commands from Odin when it is given instructions, and it is intelligent enough that it is able to determine when Thor has become worthy to wield it again and is able to propel itself to him.

It is safe to say that there is no actual "magic" in the MCU*, just technology and knowledge that is indistinguishable from magic, and so an intelligent hammer is believable.

This means it decides who it will allow to lift it, and who can't. It's not just inanimate objects, otherwise the truck with the tow rope in THOR would have been able to move it from the impact site. It can move and direct itself, and so if it wants to stay in one place it does. If it wants to move it does. If it wants to be picked up by someone then it allows it.

The hammer itself wanted to show the Avengers that Vision had it's blessing, so it allowed Vision to pick it up to get the point across. That doesn't mean Vision would always be able to lift it.

This actually makes the scene with Cap trying to lift the hammer a little more amusing; If the hammer is intelligent, could it have wobbled a little just to mess with Thor?

* Even in Dr. Strange when the Ancient One is describing how they do their "magic", she says something like "What you call spells is the programming language of the universe, powered by energy channeled from other dimensions..."

Recent event update: Recent evidence is pointing to the idea that Captain America has always been able to lift the hammer, but decided not to because he didn't want to hurt Thor. Once he touched it and it moved even bairly, he knew he could pick it up, and so stopped.

• Oh, the worshippers of the God of AI are zealous in their insistence that there is no magic... tsk, tsk. (Shakes head.) – Wildcard Jun 6 '17 at 7:28
• @Wildcard I did say 'at least a weak AI'. Mjolnir being sentient is the only thing that really explains all of it's behavior and abilities. Say what you want, but at least from what we've seen of the MCU with Asgard, Guardians of the Galaxy, Legion, Dr. Strange, etc. there are certain rules and technologies that allow people to manipulate the universe, which is essentially magic, but in an orderly, predictable, scientific way. – AndyD273 Jun 6 '17 at 13:05

My interpretation is that although cap is worthy it is still Thors hammer and he is alive and well. Cap can not fully lift the hammer then because he would simply be showing off, if he were to lift it to be able to protect someone he would be able to.

Captain America is mortal, so is Thor but in a different way. There seems to be a form of energy exchanged between Thor and Mjolnir that is not there all the time between anyone else and Mjolnir. It could very well be what makes Thor worthy and no one else until Thor is to far out of the fight.

In the movie, Captain America tells Tony Stark that he has a dark side, just nobody's seen it yet. Captain America's yet unseen dark side could possibly be why he isn't worthy.

I think Steve is very much worthy of Mjolnir, but at that particular moment had too much self-doubt about himself and his ability to lead the team. He doesn't believe he is better than everyone else, he actually has self-esteem problems that always thinking he is not doing enough. Thor was deemed unworthy because of his self-centeredness in his first movie. Once he was going to give his life selflessly for others, the Hammer responded once again. Cap is sometimes haunted by the fact that he can't save everyone and that he may not be doing enough to help people. These doubts are probably effecting his "worthiness" as decided by Mjolnir. Other than that, he would be worthy.

I realized I'm a bit late to party here, but I stumbled in because the same question was bothering me. But the theory that I've come up with now is that it was circumstantial. Cap could lift the hammer in a different context, when he truly needed to, the same way Vision is able to lift the hammer in the movie because he needed to. The team wasn't sure if he could be trusted, they weren't all sure if he was truly on their side. The hammer allowed itself to be lifted to prove that Vision was worthy.

I like to view this in a bit of a different way than most. In my little world, Thor was grinning as each Avenger made an attempt, but was actually expecting Steve to lift it. When he failed to do so, the grin disappeared...

Only one person can wield the Mjolnir at a time. Other people can wield the hammer if Thor is not worthy or not in the same universe.

## protected by user1027 Aug 19 '15 at 15:25

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