In Avengers: Age Of Ultron, there was an amusing scene where several of the Avengers attempted to lift Thor's hammer, to no avail. That is, almost. Despite how the scene played out, the jury remains out on whether Steve Rogers could lift the hammer--or at least it does for those of us who believe that Rogers could indeed have lifted it but chose not to for reasons of his own. The Vision would later have no such scruples; and just as in the comic, there may be other instances in the films where more people will find themselves lifting and even wielding Mjolnir.
But when did the ball start rolling on this development?
We'll have to put our backs into it and lift up the curtain on another
Marvel Trivia Question
How many mortals were able to lift Thor's sacred hammer?
Before we go further, however, let's backtrack a bit and refresh our memories on just why no one but Thor is able to wield his powerful hammer:
Though there are some who don't give up so easily, especially when it involves shabby insolence.
For our question's answer, we have to go back to 1983 to find the first such story, where Odin is as surprised as we are to discover that Beta Ray Bill has managed to take on the power of Thor and wield the hammer, when up to that point no one but Thor and Odin had ever managed the feat. Taking advantage of the condition that Thor must revert to Donald Blake if the hammer was out of his possession for sixty seconds, Bill retrieved Blake's walking cane and (much like Blake himself) struck it against a hard surface in frustration. And history is made.
Bill would be found worthy to wield the hammer not only by the weapon's enchantment, but by Odin himself--and as a result, Bill would receive a similar gift from Odin to wield in Mjolnir's place, for use when he returned to save his people.
Next, from the year 2537, a cult of Thor worshippers on Earth have discovered a possible means to free themselves from the oppressive "Corporation" which runs their government, inspired by an object that would surely be of use to them--if only there was one among them who could take possession of it.
One of the rebels, a teenager named Dargo, is skeptical of the belief these cultists hold in a "god of thunder," and equally skeptical of the power of "some stupid old hammer" that was unearthed a few hundred years ago. But Loki of Asgard takes the hammer's existence far more seriously, and he has come in search of it--no matter how many mortals he must slay to find it. And in trying to save his people, Dargo finds that the hammer's legend is no myth after all.
Back we go to 1988, where Thor returns to the Avengers to find much has changed in his absence.
Things are changing in Asgard, as well. Odin is missing and presumed dead--and Balder the Brave rules the realm in his absence, while Seth, the serpent God of Death, begins a series of strikes into Asgard as a prelude to war. But Seth hasn't forgotten Thor, either.
And so Seth moves against Thor, regarding it as a win/win: depriving Asgard of its strongest defender, while gaining his revenge on the one who was responsible for his injury. But despite the numbers set against him, Thor has a committed and long-time ally at his side.
Yet even as Thor and the Captain hold their ground, there is still the powerful Grog to consider. Taking Thor by surprise, Grog forces the hammer to be dislodged from Thor's grip--and while disarming Thor is the most he can gain from the maneuver, it turns the tide of battle back in the favor of Grog's forces once more. Cap realizes the urgency of returning Thor's hammer to him--but he is no god, and stronger beings than himself have tried what he's attempting and failed.
Yet there's one difference between the Captain and the many others who preceded him who failed to lift Mjolnir. Aside from not admitting defeat and never giving up, we'll discover that the hammer's enchantment finds one other thing of value in this man.
The battle done, Cap's ability to lift and wield the hammer has removed any doubts from Thor's mind about who to trust in the disagreement currently between Cap and Iron Man--that, despite the costume change and his own government's rejection of him, Cap remained as honorable and trustworthy as ever. And now there was another distinction he carried.
Then there's Eric Masterson, Thor's mortal friend who was for a brief time joined in essence with him, only to see him banished from existence as punishment for slaying his evil half-brother, Loki. But arrangements were made by Heimdall, temporary ruler of Asgard (that's quite a turnover in rulers those Asgardians have), to have an Asgardian presence replace Thor to safeguard Earth--one who had already proven worthy of Thor's friendship, and would go on to prove equally worthy of his power.
And after a brutal battle with no less than the fearsome Ulik, Eric assumed the mantle and the hammer of Thor until such time as his friend could return to reclaim it.
Good grief! We haven't missed anyone, have we? Who knew there was so much of Mjolnir to go around?
Here are a few links to help you tie up some of this post's loose ends.
- You can see the return of Eric Masterson, Beta Ray Bill, and Dargo, all in the same story, as part of... I am not making this up... the Thor Corps. It's raining thunder gods!
- Eric's right to wield Mjolnir is demonstrated even before circumstances forced him to assume the identity of Thor, when the Mongoose returned to claim his revenge--and we see Eric's life force joined with that of Thor's for the first time. Only this time, just as it was with Donald Blake, Eric will be on the inside looking out.
- Check out further details of how and why Captain America felt compelled to turn in his uniform and shield and change his identity--as well as the reasons behind his falling out with Tony Stark.
Before Eric made the scene, have a look at... the Fantastic Four!
Er...The God Squad?
The Fraternal Order Of The Hammer?