Mythology Of Mjolnir
Mjolnir or translated “the Crusher” is the hammer of the Norse god of thunder, Thor. In the Norse mythology Thor was required to wear iron gloves and a special belt to wield this tool of destruction. Along with being capable of leveling mountains, conjuring lightning, and causing death, it could also revive life in animals and humans, shrink to fit in the pocket of Thor, and once thrown, flawlessly striking any target, it would return to his right hand – we just established that Thor is right-handed, you heard it here first!
This incredibly powerful weapon was forged by the hands of dwarves. The Norse people recognized dwarves as master craftsmen in their mythology seeing them…well…actually, never “seeing” them. According to their tales, no human could visually see a dwarf, as they were invisible to our sight. So in Nordic myth, dwarves were never considered to be short in stature. Thor’s hammer was a product of Loki’s misdemeanor when he decided to cut the golden strands of hair off of Thor’s wife’s head. In pleading for his life, he promises that the Ivaldi sons are capable of crafting her new strands of golden locks, even more beautiful than the original. He was right, but along with the hair, the Ilvadi sons assembled two other objects, a ship you could fold up and place in your pocket, and Gungnir, the deadliest of all spears. This reckless god then made a wager with the brother dwarves Brokrr and Sindrii, taunting them by saying they did not possess the skills required to craft three new creations equal to those of the sons of Ivaldi had forged. He even put his own head on the line, literally, he bet his own head! Well they accepted this wager, succeeding, even through the annoyance of a pesky “fly”, buzzing, biting, and stinging them through the process. To no surprise the fly was Thor’s troublemaking brother, Loki. One of these three new creations they produced was Mjollnir, gifting it to Thor. Don’t fret, Loki kept his head, using it cunningly to escape the loss of it by the skin of his teeth. Revealing he never bet his neck, therefore it was not to be harmed, being it wasn’t part of the deal. The dwarves then sewed his mouth shut and bought him back to their cavernous home.
Although it possesses similar qualities, even in some cases identical, Thor’s Hammer in the Marvel Universe has its own individual traits, making it unique to the comics. One thing we don’t witness in the Nordic myth, is the idea that there are prerequisites to wielding or lifting the hammer. And as for the comic-book community, arguing of the weight and enchainments of the hammer, there is no mention of these subjects in the Nordic myths.
300-Billion Elephants or 300-Billion Mice
Over a year ago, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claimed that because it was made of neutron-star matter, Thor’s hammer equaled the weight of a “heard of 300-billion elephants”. Immediately an eruption went off in the geek community, mimicking that of the big bang. It was shortly pointed out that deGrasse Tyson made an error, not in his mathematics, or in his knowledge of neutron-stars, but in his comic book expertise. Thor’s hammer was not forged from a dying star, yet in a dying star. V-Sauce then released their take on the weight of Thor’s hammer, (you can view that video on our blog Science and Speculation Behind Thor’s Toolbox). Now, at V-suace they speculate how heavy the hammer would actually be if it was constructed of a dying star. Claiming that deGrasse Tyson was even wrong in stating it would be as heavy as 300-billion elephants, unadequately estimating the mass of this weapon if it were actually fashioned from a dying neutron, it would be heavier, making it more unbearable to heave over your shoulders.
The actual weight of Thor’s hammer, according to a Marvel Comics trading card issued back in the early ’90’s, is 42.3 pounds, staying in close relation to the original Nordic folklore, it is by no means unbearable to lift. That’s no more then a medium sized dog! But It’s not the weight of the hammer that makes it unmanageable to lift, it’s the enchantment placed upon it making it impossible to wield if you are seen as unworthy. Inscribed across Mjolnir is “Whosoever holds this hammer, If he be worthy, shall possess the power of…THOR”. But what is this standard of worthy? Lets go though all the instances in Marvel history, when a character used Mjolnir.
ALL ARE WORTHY!?!
Mjolnir’s definition and standard of worthy may differ from the rest of the worlds. Although some of these are admirable heroes, being pure of heart and motive, I sorely doubt the other half of these allowed to wield the power of Thor would use it for the greater good. In some cases the hammer completely gives the illusion of having an enchainment placed upon it, making it’s power only capable to those who would use it morally. But then other times it seems to only weigh 42.3 pounds. Mjolnir should consider running background checks, that’s all I’m saying.
The Destroyer: Jouney into Mystery #119
The Red Hulk: Hulk #5 (2008)
Red Norvell: Thor #276
Kro: Thor #286
Beta Ray Bill: Thor #337
Captain America (Steve Rogers): Thor #390
Erik Masterson (Thunderstrike): Thor #433
Woden: Guardians of the Galaxy #42
Magni: Thor #76 (V2)
Iron Man: The Avengers #122 (1972)
Zeus: Thor Annual #8