Avengers: Infinity War has finally been unleashed to devastating effect, and as we try to survive in the wake of it, the film has definitely left us with some questions.
Of course there was a lot of loss in the newest entry to the blockbuster mega franchise, but there were also some really cool new introductions like Thor’s very rad new axe/hammer, Stormbreaker. Fans of the comics might recognize the name or the shape of Odinson’s new weapon, but might be slightly mystified as to where exactly the film got its inspiration as the creators took from two different parts of Thor canon, both contemporary and classic, to bring us Stormbreaker. So I’m going break down the history of both to help you better understand the MCU’s newest creation.
Comics in the ’80s were a weird and wonderful place, and one of the most experimental and exciting creators was Walt Simonson. Writer / artist Simonson’s run on Thor is a truly magical one and it introduced us to the first ever non Norse god to wield Mjolnir, Beta Ray Bill. A Korbinite Beta, Bill was introduced as a monstrous foe for Thor with a secret–he’s actually a hero! Stormbreaker was first introduced in 1984’s Thor #339 when, after beating the mighty Avenger at Skartheim, Beta Ray Bill decided that Thor was the truly worthy party amongst them. This led to Odin asking the Dwarves of Nidavellir–the very same from Infinity War–to forge Beta Ray Bill his own hammer: Stormbreaker.
Shaped like an anvil, the hammer is forged from Nidavellir’s indigenous Uru metal just like Mjolnir, and Bill and Stormbreaker had many adventures. In one such escapade the pair were endowed with cosmic powers by the Herald of Galactus himself, the Silver Surfer, and this transformed Stormbreaker into an axe, much more similar to the one that we saw in the film. Stormbreaker shares a lot of similar powers with Mjolnir: flight, the power of recall, and force projection. It also has some very unique magic too, as it allows Bill to return to his mortal form with a simple strike. Possibly the coolest power–and the one that was adapted for Infinity War–is the ability to create interdimensional portals to anywhere in the universe. The addition of Stormbreaker is particularly exciting, as we know Beta Ray Bill does exist in the MCU, because his head was one of the sculptures on the Grandmaster’s arena in Thor: Ragnarok!
When the mold on Nidavellir broke and revealed not an axe but a hammer, most fans likely thought of Jarnbjorn, the Dwarven forged battle axe used by Thor in the years before he could wield Mjolnir. First introduced in Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder #1, this weapon was created by Dwarves as well but made from Asgardian steel, and because of that was one of the sharpest objects on Earth. The blade was also charmed so that the axe was indestructible and could withstand any attack, including the powers of Apocalypse himself! Thor actually blessed Jarnbjorn with his own blood to enable it to cut through the armor of Celestials so that he could beat En Sabah Nur.
Jarnbjorn is probably most notable for all of the people who’ve wielded it. For Fantastic Four conspiracy theorists out there–like me–you’ll be happy to know that when Thor lost it once, Jarnborn was owned by Kang The Conqueror! Yup, the distant relation of Sue, Reed, Franklin, and Valeria rescued the axe from the tomb of Baron Mordo. It was then stolen by the Apocalypse twins. Dang, this axe sure does get around. And when Thor became unworthy in Aaron and Olivier Coipel’s recent run, Thor once again picked up Jarnborn as he could no longer wield Mjolnir. Fun fact: Jarnborn means Iron Bear in Norwegian.
So as you can see, the thunderous Stormbreaker we’re treated to in Infinity War is a melding of both Beta Ray Bill’s iconic tool and the Odinson’s on-again off-again alternative to Mjolnir. We loved the epic creation of this newest addition to the MCU’s lineup of cool super weapons, especially the heartfelt addition of a wooden handle directly from Teen Groot himself.
Did you like Thor’s radical new weapon? Miss Mjolnir already? Think Groot will be resurrected? Let us know all your Infinity War theories below!
Images: Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios