WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, arriving in theaters April 27.
You might have thought Thor would end up charging into battle against Thanos with nothing but his new lightning powers and sheer will after Hela crushed Mjolnir in Thor: Ragnarok. If you're a Marvel Comics fan, you might have also guessed that Thor would end up wielding Jarnbjorn, which the comic book Thor wielded in The Unworthy Thor.
Either way, you'd have been wrong.
Thor isn't immediately given a new weapon in Avengers: Infinity War, in fact, much of his subplot consists of his journey to Nidavellir where, with the help of a few members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, he finds his new weapon: Stormbreaker. But what exactly is Stormbreaker and what are the new powers that come with it?
In the comics, the alien known as Beta Ray Bill was given a weapon of his own after defeating Thor in battle and displaying a true sense honor. Odin had the dwarves of Nidavellir forge Bill a new Uru hammer. It functions much like Mjolnir, and possesses many of the same abilities. The only real differences are purely aesthetic. Stormbreaker was a large, rounded mallet for the most part, with a short but sharp edge at the back of its head.
Its appearance has changed a few times, though it always revert back to something like the original. It briefly became slightly more axe-like when Beta Ray Bill was endowed with the power cosmic in Cosmic Powers Unlimited #5 (written by Greg Wright, illustrated by Scot Eaton, Don Hudson and Paul Becton). The second time its form changed was during Secret Invasion, in which the shape-shifting Skrulls managed to split Stormbreaker in two so a super-skrull could wield it.
Given the small Beta Ray Bill Easter egg in Thor: Ragnarok (his face is represented on the Grandmaster's arena), some fans speculated that the character might show up in Infinity War, armed with his signature weapon. This... did not come to pass. In fact, Thor's new weapon in the film seems to share nothing more than a name with its comic book counterpart, as was hinted through the film's marketing.
After crashing into the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor departs with Groot and Rocket for the home of the dwarves, Nidavellir. As Thor explained, the dwarves crafted Mjolnir, naturally making Nivadellir the best place to search for a new weapon, one capable of killing Thanos. When they reach Nidavellir, they find a desolate, dead star where dwarves and a burning forge used to be. Inside, they find a copy of Thanos' gauntlet and the lone dwarf king, Eitri, maimed and drained of hope after seeing his people slaughtered by Thanos. Together, the group manages to help Eitri forge a mighty axe: Stormbreaker.
Thor and Rocket reactivate the forge, risking the Asgardian's life to do so, so Eitri can melt the mystical metal down and forge the axe head. Just as Thor collapses and comes crashing down from the edges of the dwarf planet, the axe head is completed, all that's left is to find a handle. Eitri searches frantically as Thor lies dying on the floor. That's when Groot leaps into action, offering up a piece of himself to complete Stormbreaker.
While for the most part, Thor's new weapon seems to function just as Mjolnir did -- as we see when Thor swings it around and uses it to channel his lightning in the battle against Thanos' forces in Wakanda -- the axe is capable of transporting Thor and others from place to place with a bright, powerful beam, much like the Bifrost Bridge did before it was destroyed (with the rest of Asgard).
Stormbreaker also appears to be a much more lethal than Mjolnir ever was, as we see near the very end of Avengers: Infinity War. We're bound to see it in action in the next Avengers film, when the remnants of Earth's Mightiest Heroes deal with the fallout from Thanos' attack on the universe.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Infinity War will arrive in theaters on April 27. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Anthony Mackie as the Falcon, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Chris Pratt as Star Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Josh Brolin as Thanos.