Who Are Worthy of the Power of Thor?
Editor's Note: Recently on the podcast a listener wrote in asking why Captain America was able to hold Thor's hammer without transforming into a variation of Thor, as had other characters like Beta Ray Bill and Thunderstrike. Troy Benson responded with the following emails, which he has given me permission to edit into one excellent fanboy-provoking article.
Captain America's costume doesn't change when he picks up Mjolnir because Cap isn't truly worthy. To find the answer you have to go to the DC-Marvel crossovers, DC versus Marvel and JLA/Avengers.
In JLA/Avengers, Superman briefly utilized the hammer in issue #4 without undergoing a costume change. It became clear at the end of the book when Superman could no longer lift the hammer that Thor is able to circumvent the enchantment in "desperate hours". As Thor was being overwhelmed by the bad guys, he threw the hammer to Superman and knew that Superman would be able to wield it. Later in the book only Superman was surprised that he could no longer lift the hammer.
However, in DC versus Marvel #2 & #3, Wonder Woman barely touched the hammer and she was transformed into a wondrous version of Thor. No striking of the hammer was necessary; the Amazon is simply worthy.
So I believe that Thor, when necessary, can will the hammer to allow individuals who otherwise wouldn't be worthy to use the hammer (Captain America and Superman) while others are just worthy on their own (Beta Ray Bill, Wonder Woman, Eric Masterson, Odin). That might also explain why Cap doesn't pick up the hammer more often.
Of all heroes, why isn't Superman worthy to wield Thor's hammer? One word: mullet.
This isn't saying that Superman and Captain America are bad people. I don't know what makes one person "worthy" and others not. Does it make Bruce Wayne any less of a hero because he can "instill great fear" as opposed to having the ability to "overcome fear"? Of course not.
However, the type of individual Thor was in the old Norse days made me think more about what would constitute worthiness for possessing his power. Odin, Borr, Beta-Ray Bill and Wonder Woman are all warriors. I don't know anything about Eric Masterson but maybe he had a warrior's heart.
Captain America is a soldier but he has always been a reluctant warrior. He would much rather that everyone see reason than have them submit to him because he punched them in the face.
This differs from Wonder Woman who lives by the paradox of "peace through war". Superman is, well, just Superman. The one time Superman really had to go toe to toe against someone in a fight (Doomsday), he thought himself dead. In a fight, do you think that Thor would ever say to himself, "I should probably be dead now" and then die?
By those terms, those who are "worthy" of the power become Thor-esque, while those Thor allows to wield the hammer do not change at all. This excludes his Asgardian relatives and possibly Eric Masterson, because again, I don't know about him to truly comment.
It is what it is.
Benson serves justice as a crusading deputy district attorney
in a large metropolis somewhere south of Star City.