Thor: Ragnarok comes out this week! You can get your tickets here.
In the comic book world, there are certain phrases that every reader can recite.
"In brightest day, in blackest night…”
“With great power…”
"Thing ring do your thing!”
Ok, that one may not be as memorable.
The one that is certainly on everyone’s mind this week actually has two versions - one of which was introduced recently to get around some changes to the character. Obviously, we’re talking about the inscription on Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor. If you don’t know it, it goes like this…
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he/she be worthy, shall possess the power of…THOR!"
But just who is worthy? Well, you may think of one or two people. If you really know your stuff, you may even get up to five or six peeps who have picked up Mjolnir in the comics. The real answer though, is maybe way too many people. The current tally (as I counted) is over 27 people and sentient beings which kinda makes it all a little less special. Still, let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?
There have been a number of Thors over the years (and we’re not talking about alternate realities here) but only a few have really stood out.
Obviously, there’s Thor himself, who for a time thought he was just a dumb human named Donald Blake, but you know all about him so we’ll move on.
The first non-Asgardian to wield Mjolnir was Beta Ray Bill, a Korbinite champion who beat up Thor and took the mystical hammer. For a bit of time, Bill refused to return it to Thor, and Thor’s dad Odin decided that there was only one way to figure out who should hold Mjolnir - Beta Ray Bill and Thor would fight to the death (Odin may not be a great dad). Bill beats the tar out of Thor again, but refuses to kill the god of thunder, believing that Thor is too worthy a warrior to kill. Impressed by Beta Ray Bill’s mercy, Odin has a second hammer, named Stormbreaker, created so that both Thor and Beta Ray Bill can kick all the butt.
The cutest Thor is Throg, the frog who became Thor. As the story went, Thor got turned into a frog by Loki, and while he was a frog, Thor helped a group of frog living in Central Park defend their home from rats. One of the Central Park frogs, named Puddlegulp, revealed to Thor that he used to be human but was turned into a frog by a Romani. After Thor returned to his human form, Puddlegulp found a sliver of Mjolnir and picked it up. When he did, he became Throg, defender of Central Park.
In another sign that Odin is a real dick, a man named Roger “Red” Norvell briefly became Thor, but it was only so that the God of Thunder could die fighting the Serpent of Ragnarok, as prophesied while making sure the real Thor kept on living.
A human named Eric Masterson became Thor for a time after the real God of Thunder was trapped in Hell. When the real Thor came back, Eric was given his own version of the hammer, a mace called Thunderstrike. All of this was super lame. How lame? Eric’s main enemy was a dude called Bloodaxe. Hard to get more '90s comics than that.
Odin himself can lift Mjolnir, as can Thor’s gramps Bor and his great gramps, Buri. Loki has lifted the hammer on at least two occasions, much to the shock of everyone. The Destroyer, a suit of Asgardian armor magically brought to life, has also handled the hammer with ease.
Along with the Destroyer are a few other sentient beings that have lifted the hammer, such as Andy the Awesome Android, who can mimic the abilities of others did it while fighting Thor. Feeling all kinds of special (what with all that hammer lifting), Andy left behind his evil creator the Mad Thinker, and got a job at a lawfirm. Comics can get real kooky, and that's why we love them. Other androids, like Air-Walker and a mining robot built by Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, have also lifted the hammer. And, of course, in the movies Vision was able to lift it. The whole android thing really gives credence to Captain America and Tony’s argument that Vision lifting the hammer doesn’t mean he’s worthy, just that robots and machines can lift it.
Most recently, Thor’s long time love Jane Foster became the first woman in continuity to wield Mjolnir and become Thor. Much of Foster’s run as Thor has been something of a commentary on men’s fear of women gaining power - when she first gets the hammer, Odin sent out the Destroyer to kill her and retrieve the hammer, but a whole load of superwomen came together to keep that BS from happening. Jane is still the owner of Mjolnir in the comics, but that could be changing in the coming months.
While Captain America couldn’t lift it in the movie (although it did shift a little when he tried), he has lifted it in the comics a few times. Like all the androids, Cap didn’t turn into Thor, suggesting that while he isn’t worthy of being Thor, he is pure enough to wield the power. When Cap did lift it for the first time, he quickly handed the hammer to Thor, so the purity may well have been that Cap had no intention to use the hammer himself.
Another true blue hero - Superman - was able to lift Mjolnir, and while he didn’t turn into Thor, he fully intended to use the hammer in battle. The obvious question is whether the Man of Steel was able to lift Mjolnir because he is worthy or because he is just that strong. Supes is, after all, far more powerful than any Marvel hero (I mean, Hulk is strong, but Superman can literally move a planet out of its orbit if he wants). Superman isn’t the only DC hero to lift Mjolnir: Wonder Woman not only lifted the hammer, but turned into Thor, proving that she is worthy of the power which is pretty obvious. I mean, she’d freaking Wonder Woman.
Along with Superman and Wonder Woman, a long list of characters have been worthy of wielding Mjolnir when out of continuity, including the daughter of Captain America and Rogue, Rogue herself, the Spider-Man from the year 2099, Black Widow, and Squirrel Girl.
Who else will wield Mjolnir in the future? Only time, and writers looking to either have a shocking moment in their comic or wanting their character to be more important than they maybe should be, will tell.
Again, Thor: Ragnarok comes out this week! Get your tickets to see it at the Drafthouse here.