Why Captain America Couldn’t Lift Thor’s Hammer in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Here's why Steve Rogers couldn't lift Thor's hammer in Avengers: Age of Ultron but Captain America could in Avengers: Endgame.

Captain America With Thor's Hammer in Avengers: Endgame
Photo: Marvel Studios/Disney

This article contains Avengers: Endgame spoilers. But you’ve seen it. Everyone saw it.

There’s no shortage of memorable moments in Avengers: Endgame, but a guaranteed audience favorite was the moment Captain America picks up Thor’s hammer and uses it to beat the absolute purple crap out of Thanos. Why is this such a big deal? Well, for starters, the hammer in question, Mjolnir, can only be wielded by those who are considered “worthy,” a little mystical insurance policy put on it by Thor’s dad, Odin. It’s pretty cool to see the Avenger who is the purest of heart officially deemed “worthy” of the weapon of a god.

But it’s also a fun callback to an early scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where, after an evening of drinking, various Avengers gather to try (and fail) to lift Mjolnir while Thor has a good laugh. But when Steve Rogers tries…you mmmmight just see Mjolnir budge, a little something that Thor notes with some surprise.

“I’d say he’s not completely worthy yet,” Christopher Markus wrote on Twitter during a wide-ranging Avengers: Endgame watchalong and Q&A for ComicBook. “He still has the secret of Tony’s parents’ death to resolve.”

Ad – content continues below

That secret, of course, came to a head with Tony and Steve’s confrontation in Captain America: Civil War, since it turns out that Bucky Barnes (during his dark period as a manipulated and brainwashed enemy agent) was responsible for the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark.

Of course, this contradicts something that Civil War and Endgame co-director Anthony Russo said last year. “In our heads he was able to wield it, and he didn’t know that until that moment in Ultron when he tried to pick it up” Russo told the Happy Sad Confused podcast in 2019. “But Cap’s sense of character and his sense of humility, sort of out of deference to Thor’s ego, you know Cap in that moment realizing he can move the hammer decides not to.”

So, it seems that the directors and writers of Avengers: Endgame can’t decide on Steve’s relative worthiness in relation to Thor’s hammer. Of course, the person who would really be able to answer that question is Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed Avengers: Age of Ultron. He’ll have to be the tiebreaker in this one.

“Being worthy but pretending not to so as not to hurt his buddy’s feelings” sure feels like Steve Rogers behavior, though. And it gives Thor’s joyful “I knew it!” in Endgame when he sees Cap holding Mjolnir a little bit more weight.

Which version of events do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!