Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.
Mjolnir’s inscription is pretty clear. Being + Hammer + Worthy = some God of Thunder butt-kicking. What folks have some confusion over is just who it is that decides that worthiness. Once upon a time, Odin thought it was him. Don’t worry, we’ll touch more on that here in a little bit. In reality, the answer is less of a who and more of a what. That “what” is the hammer itself.
Mjolnir’s kept things pretty exclusive over the years, only letting a treasured few into its little club. Several came to pass in the old “What If” series, including the likes of Rogue, Black Widow, and Conan the Barbarian (listen, I don’t make the rules). We’ve got a couple out of towners, namely Superman and Wonder Woman, who’ve successfully wielded the hammer in crossover events. There are a couple of cheaters in the mix, with folks merging with Thor, wielding via technicality by simply throwing him (or his arm) around, some alternate dimension mishaps, and a clone, but we’re not going to count any of them. Then there are the real deal folks like Steve Rogers’ Captain America, Vision, and Valkyrie.
Oh, and one Jane Foster.
Jane’s actually held the hammer multiple times. The first of which takes place during an old What If back in 1978, and the second kicks off with the “The Goddess of Thunder” arc. Long story short, Nick Fury says some nonsense to Thor during the “Original Sin” crossover event which somehow makes him unworthy to wield Mjolnir. An (at the time) unknown woman picks up the hammer shortly after, and there’s a whole adventure of Thor trying to figure out just who that mystery lady might be.
The God of Thunder’s a little persnickety about losing the hammer at first, but after he sees the newbie’s skill, he goes so far as to relinquish his name (taking on the monicker of Odinson). Odin, on the other hand, is a little more peeved by the situation. Comic book Odin isn’t as, well, let’s say as evolved as his Anthony Hopkins-lookin’ counterpart. There’s a whole ordeal with the Destroyer, Freyja and Odinson assemble an army, and a lot of people fight. Jane Foster? Still Thor. Die mad, Odin.
Becoming the Goddess of Thunder comes at a price for Jane. Not because of the battles with gods, or because of her own humanity, but because of her chemo. The Jane Foster that picks up Mjolnir is fighting breast cancer, and every time she becomes the Goddess of Thunder the hammer rids her body of impurities. Like, you know, radiation. We’re going to leave that story spoiler-free, mostly because you should absolutely seek out the run! Other arcs that include this exceptional iteration of Thor are Marvel’s “Secret Wars”, as well as her arc in All-New All-Different Marvel (and the All-New All-Different Avengers). You can check out her current story in “War of The Realms” as well. In it, she hangs up the mantle of Thor in one of the coolest and most heart-wrenching ways possible. You have my highest of recommendations!
If you’ve read my work before, you know I spend a lot of time talking about why certain arcs matter. Jane Foster’s run as Thor is absolutely one of those arcs. We all love the MCU, but a lot of us know just how much it’s failed its women over the years. No one knows that better than Natalie Portman, who had previously exited the franchise. Looking at things on a broad scale, it’s incredible to see a now Ike Perlmutter-less MCU move in a more female-centric direction. When you take a look underneath the overarching importance of Jane Foster’s run to female readers, you’ll see something equally important in the fact that even the most mortal and seemingly impossible battles can be won.
Heroes don’t get things like cancer. Not in all of the glamour that is the film franchise that elected to divert away from Hawkeye’s deafness. Well, our new Thor does. Jane Foster doesn’t just have cancer, it’s a pivotal part of her story. Everyone deserves to feel like they can be a hero, and the fact that fighters of one of the most common cancers in women will now get to see a gruesome battle be both fought and won while also defending the universe is nothing short of incredible.
With how many story differences already exist in the current iteration of the MCU, it’s unlikely we’ll see Jane’s story look identical to her relatively new comic book arcs. And that’s great news! While it’s my sincerest hope that they keep her battle with breast cancer as a part of her story, I’m all about all of the differences that we can already see. Thor’s still worthy, and will likely keep his name. Asgard has a new King, and there are some questions as to how Mjolnir’s going to come back into play in Thor: Love and Thunder. The Valkyrie have already fallen, Hela’s already defeated, and there is no Odin to wage war against her, nor a Frigga to recruit her. The world is Jane Foster’s oyster, and we absolutely can’t wait to see Natalie Portman return to the MCU as the hero she’s always deserved to be.
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