Let us consider Thor’s Hammer, a mystical-magical weapon named Mjolnir, inscribed with: “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
I’ve read various fics in which other Avengers try to pick up Thor’s Hammer and occasionally they succeed. They have been found worthy! Cool!
But then, I was wandering around online and found this awesome analysis of a scene in the movie Thor, (by Alis Dee, the author of the (awesome, awesome, awesome!) series, Agent Loki: International Man of Mayhem.) In the analysis, she points out that Thor’s big redemptive scene? Isn’t so much him sacrificing himself to save others as it is him refraining from using others as his meat shields. Which, wow, sets the bar kind of low for what “worthy” means. Which makes it all the more depressing that no one else on Earth can lift the hammer.
However, then I had some thoughts:
Thought #1: Worthy or not-worthy, in this case, is being judged by a mystical-magical hammer. What’s the scale here? And what’s being measured? What exactly counts as being worthy here? Given that one aspect seems to be refraining from using friends and innocent bystanders as meat shields, I’m guessing that the hammer is judging worth on a whole different system than most modern Earth cultures judge, and only includes a nominal nod towards empathy.
Maybe it’s warrior ability and prince-like behavior, or having just the right amount of empathy (not too little and not too much), or something.
Following this train of thought, I kind of want a story in which none of the other Avengers can lift the hammer, but someone else completely inappropriate can. Is it one of their current enemies? Maybe a Lex Luthor type of enemy who wants to rule and, while vicious and deadly, is only as vicious and deadly as is required for taking over the world? Or is it Director Fury who already seems to be the great and powerful Oz to a certain extent? Oh, the possibilities.
However, that actually lead to…
Thought #2: Thor was perfectly capable of using Mjolnir when he went to Jotunheim, when he was fighting the Jotun, when he returned to Asgard, and when he was back-talking Odin. It wasn’t until he was cast down by Odin that he failed to lift the hammer.
So is part of being worthy being in Odin’s good graces? Because is sounds like that one sets the bar for worthiness pretty darned high. And makes the definition of being worthy completely dependent on the opinion of one being rather than based on behaviors or feelings.
Then, actually, pretty much in writing this description up, I had…
Thought #3: There are multiple ways of interpreting what it would mean to possess the power of Thor. Now, I know that in comic book canon various other people have picked up the hammer before and the interpretation is that they get a lot of extra “power.” Okay. But, ignoring that canonical interpretation, let’s consider alternatives. For instance, what happens to Thor, in the mean time? Is it that the wielder will have an equivalent amount of power, or is it that they’ll have Thor’s power, in which case Thor will not have Thor’s power?
Or, better yet, is it that they’ll be able to control Thor. Maybe it's a kind of a slave connection. If some suitably worthy person gets a hold of Mjolnir, they have Thor at their command?
Because this interpretation would actually solve some of the previous problems. The original issue that prevented Thor was using the hammer wasn’t that Thor didn’t have enough empathy or Odin’s approval necessarily, it was that he didn’t have control of his own life. He had acted based on Loki’s taunts and Odin’s commands and it wasn’t until he was cast out and learned to act based on his own thoughts and desires that the hammer considered him master of his own fate and thus worthy to captain his own soul and all that?
In which case, wouldn’t it be kind of funny if, having settled on Earth to be an Avenger for a while, Thor acquired a personal assistant to help keep his life organized and she (or he) was perfectly capable of lifting Mjolnir? Or even that was the test? Could the applicants for the position lift Mjolnir?
Anyway, I would love to see some fanfiction which delves into the issues of what counts as "worthy" according to a mystical-magical weapon.