The following contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. If you have not yet seen the film, please do so before reading the rest of this piece.
It’s one of the most memorable moments in Avengers: Endgame, and caused the audience to loudly cheer at almost every screening. It’s the moment in the film’s epic final battle when Captain America is able to lift Thor’s hammer Mjölnir in battle against Thanos. But fans already saw Steve Rogers try to pick up Thor’s hammer in the party scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron. And although it seemed to move a little, Cap couldn’t pick it up. So how could he wield Mjölnir in Endgame? What changed?
Well, now we have our answer. During a spoiler-heavy interview on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast (via Collider), Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo talked about the hows and whys of this already iconic moment.
Joe Russo said that its origins actually began in the party scene Avengers: Age of Ultron. Anthony Russo believes he was always truly worthy of the power. He only stopped himself from lifting the hammer to not embarrass his buddy Thor. Especially since his ego rests heavily on being the only one who can do that particular deed.
“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” according to Anthony Russo. “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.”
As we do see the hammer move a little bit in that scene, the Russos’ explanation does make sense. Still, in the head-canon of a lot of fans, Cap truly wasn’t worthy then. He was keeping a very large and terrible secret from Tony Stark. By Ultron, he knew that Bucky had killed Tony’s parents and kept that knowledge from him. It’s the one black mark on an otherwise impeccably moral person. But Cap not wanting to one-up his buddy is also totally in keeping with Steve Rogers as a character. So I’ll take it.
Images: Marvel Studios