Tuesday, 29 November 2011

If He Be Worthy

I'm fairly certain anyone reading this blog is familiar with the stipulations attached to wielding Mjolnir, but just to cover the bases here is how it works.

Fans love to debate exactly what constitutes "worthiness" of the hammer, and who can lift it.  The following is a post I made at the Thor Message Board on the subject, though I've had to adjust it a little after the events of Fear Itself. 

In general, I think we can all agree that to be worthy of Mjolnir you have to have a heroic nature. Self-sacrifice, honour, desire to help others, that is all a part of the package. Describes a lot of heroes though, doesn't it?

Spider-Man is certainly self-sacrificing, arguably even moreso than Thor. He lives by the adage "with great power comes great responsibility", and Mjolnir is obviously a great power. However, Spider-Man is more motivated by guilt than a purely altruistic nature, and I think that is what takes him out of the running to lift the hammer.

If there is one character around who I personally think would be worthy, it's Ben Grimm. Ben is a hero's hero, sacrificing his own happiness to turn back into the Thing when others need him. He has dedicated his life to helping others as a member of the Fantastic Four. His never-say-die attitude is legendary (eg. his battle with the Champion). So why isn't Ben worthy? Quite recently we saw him try to lift the hammer and fail. I think the reason is Ben's own self-loathing and insecurity about his appearance. He doesn't have the self-confidence/esteem needed to wield Mjolnir.

This brings me to Captain America. Cap certainly embodies everything discussed thus far, without the guilt or self-loathing to weigh him down. Confidence is certainly something he doesn't lack. Cap has lifted the hammer on two occassions now, and it is worth noting that both times he has not undergone a transformation into a Thor-like being.  My feeling here is that while Cap had need of the power, he has never intended to take it from Thor, rather he has borrowed it. 

This leads me to the conclusion that to lift Mjolnir, you must have need of it. Beta Ray Bill certainly had a need, as his world's champion against Surtur and his hordes. Superman managed to use it once, and that was when the entire DC and Marvel universes were at stake. When there was no longer a need, even though he was just trying to return it to Thor (in far less perilous circumstances than when Steve did the same), Superman could not lift it.

Which ultimately leads us to why isn't Superman worthy. Again, this comes down to need. Superman doesn't need the power of Thor, he is just as powerful on his own. He exemplifies many of the same characteristics as Thor, but since he has no need of the power of Thor, he cannot lift the hammer either.

And before anyone asks about Wonder Woman, as far as I know the only Marvel/DC crossover that is actually in continuity is JLA/Avengers. That being said, you could argue that Wonder Woman was fighting for her entire universe, and since she lost to Storm (due to fan voting) she obviously could have used the power boost.

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