In the Marvel Universe, whosoever holds the hammer Mjolnir, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor. It’s a simple promise, meant to protect the world from the might of Mjolnir. In theory, the weapon will never be unjustly wielded against the mortals of the Marvel Universe — and for the majority of his adventures, the god of thunder has not failed to measure up.
But Thor isn’t the only being in the Marvel multiverse revealed to be “worthy.” After all, the fictional cosmos is a place that, by design, is full of morally upright superheroes. In the comics, there are plenty of others who have, at one time or another, possessed the power of Thor; from Asgardians to humans, aliens to animals, and even a few superheroes from other universes entirely. After the cheekiest confrontation of this notion in Age of Ultron, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame revived the question when Captain America picked up the hammer to ward off Thanos. So who can actually pick up Mjolnir?
The answer according to comic history: so many people. So many, we’re going to break a selection of the most notable ones down by category.
In Marvel Comics, in which the Asgardians are magical rather than sufficiently advanced aliens, Mjolnir was forged by the dwarves of Nidavellir from a chunk of mystical metal known as uru, which itself served as a prison for a storm called the God Tempest, the Mother of Thunder.
When newly forged, the spirit of the God Tempest was still strong within it, and not even Odin himself could control Mjolnir. So, he gave it its famous enchantment, that only the worthy would be able to wield it and summon the power of its lightning. Thousands of years after that, he eventually bequeathed the hammer to his son Thor, who had sought for years to lift it. (Keep in mind, this is all Marvel canon, which is, uh, notably divergent from actual Norse mythology).
The gods Odin, Bor, and Buri — Thor’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather — have all hefted Mjolnir at one time or another. Odin, because it was his enchantment on the hammer in the first place, so he could do what he liked; while Bor and Buri were simply worthy.
And then, of course, there was Ragnarok, the android/clone of Thor — created by Tony Stark, Mister Fantastic, and a Skrull pretending to be Hank Pym — who believed himself to be Thor. Loki was even worthy once, but only during a period in which a magic spell had inverted the moral compasses of most of the characters in the Marvel Universe.
Four major Marvel superheroes have shown their worthiness to wield Mjolnir at at least one point in their lives: Captain America briefly picked up and tossed Mjolnir in Thor #390; Storm moved it to strike in 2011’s X-Men: To Serve and Protect #3,; Squirrel Girl hefted it in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe; and Jane Foster simply was the Thor of the Marvel Universe for a span of about four years.
She might also be the last person to wield Mjolnir. In her last act as Thor, she bound the rampaging Mangog in the chains of Fenris, attached Mjolnir to those chains, and threw the hammer into the center of the Sun.
And then, of course, there’s Beta Ray Bill, a noble alien warrior with a horse’s face. It was a surprise to nearly everyone in Asgard that Bill was able not only to lift Mjolnir but to summon its tempestuous power, and after further proving his worthiness, Odin gifted him with his own hammer, Stormbreaker. However improbable looking, the champion of the alien Korbinites has been a supporting Thor character ever since.
Throg, a frog named Puddlegulp, used to be a human man named Simon Walterson (a reference to long-time Thor scribe Walt Simonson). He was transformed into a frog by a racial stereotype, and was subsequently accepted by a frog community in Central Park.
He met Thor for the first time when the thunder god had been transformed into a frog by Loki, and together the two warriors defended the frogs of Central Park from an invasion of rats. Following that adventure, Puddlegulp obtained a sliver of Mjolnir and found himself worthy to wield it. He received the powers of Thor and was transformed into Throg, the Frog of Thunder, and the sliver into the mighty Frogjolnir.
I know exactly what you’re thinking: Why isn’t every Marvel comic about Throg? It remains a mystery to this day.
Notable wielders from other universes
Nothing happens in the Marvel multiverse without being canon somewhere. That’s particularly true for the company’s famous What If? series, an anthology of answers to questions like: What if Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four? Each What If? story has its own numerically designated parallel earth to exist in, just like the main Marvel Universe has Earth-616. And that means that each What If? story is canonical, just not in the main universe.
In the pages of What If? stories, Jane Foster picked up the hammer in 1978; Conan the Barbarian in 1983; the X-Man Rogue in 1994; Sarah Rogers, the daughter of Captain America and a merged Rogue/Carol Danvers, in 1998; Captain America (again) in 2007; and Black Widow in 2014.
In the alternate 31st century that is home to the first incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Woden Thorson is the son of Thor and Sif who, after some teenage struggles, proved himself worthy to wield the hammer. But not every multiversal Mjolnir wielder comes from the Marvel multiverse.
During the long-past days when Marvel and DC Comics were corporate-friendly enough to do crossovers, even DC Comics characters had the opportunity to have a go at showing their worthiness. Both Superman and Wonder Woman have possessed the power of Thor, Superman because Odin gave him special permission, Wonder Woman simply because she was worthy. And in the companies’ 1996 joint imprint, Amalgam, the gestalt character Thorion — that is, a mix of Thor and the New God Orion — wielded Mjolnir.
And finally, the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The MCU is like any other alternate story of the Marvel Comics Universe: It’s a canonical part of the Marvel Multiverse. And within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor isn’t the only Avenger to have wielded Mjolnir.
[Ed. note: the following contains spoilers for all of the Avengers films]
The Vision casually picked up the hammer and handed it to him in Avengers: Age of Ultron, instantly gaining the Avengers’ trust. And, in Avengers: Endgame, which what might be his final film in the franchise, Captain America not only lifted Mjolnir, but called it to his hand and summoned its lightning.
At the end of Endgame, we see Cap return with Mjolnir to the past, but unlike the Infinity Stones, there’s no reason he had to put the hammer back where it was taken from. Mjolnir might still be out there, somewhere in the Marvel universe, waiting for whoever is worthy.