The film Black Panther not only brought the kingdom of Wakanda to the big screen, audiences also got to learn more about the mythical metal known as vibranium. Audiences also have been following the exploits of Wolverine ever since he made his cinematic debut in the 2000 film X-Men. The 2003 sequel X2 and the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine went into further detail the nature of adamantium and how it was bonded to Wolverine's skeleton. Marvel fans have seen Thor appear in three of his own films as well as all three Avengers sequels, but time has not been spent learning about uru, the magical metal that was used to make Mjolnir.
Adamantium is a metal that can be made on Earth if you have the immense resources required to do so. Vibranium can only be found in Wakanda but you have to go through the Black Panther to have at it. Uru metal is much harder to obtain and much harder to forge. However, there are wonderful benefits to having uru-based weapons. Who came up with the name uru? How does the Infinity Gauntlet have ties to Asgard? Get ready for answers to these questions and many more as we learn 15 weird facts about uru, the magical metal in Thor's hammer!
15 THE ONLY PLACE TO FIND URU
If you want vibranium, then you need to travel to Wakanda to obtain some. Adamantium isn't something you find, it's something you make, and the process is quite elaborate and expensive. True adamantium was created by Dr. Myron MacLain, the same scientist that created Captain America's shield by accident during World War II. So what about uru metal? Where on Earth can we find that stuff to make our own hammers to fly around with? Unfortunately the substance is not that easy to find and it requires you traveling to a different planet to obtain it.
Uru metal can be found on Nidavellir, which is Norse for "low fields" or "dark fields." In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Nidavellir is a ringed structure in space (referred to as an Alderson disk) that was built around a dying star. In the comics, it's a planet that made up one of the nine realms (10 if you count the rejected realm of Heaven) connected to the world tree, Yggdrasill. Besides having uru, Nidavellir is reported to have every precious gem stone you could possibly imagine. Nidavellir is where Mjolnir was forged, as well as the black uru replacement arm for Thor. Precious materials are mined by Asgardian dwarves with Nidavellir making its first appearance in Journey Into Mystery #103 back in April 1964.
14 URU IRL
It's great when life imitates art, but it's even better when life imitates comic books. Although the fictional Tony Stark created the Iron Man armor, a Russian named Nicholas Yagn built an exoskeleton that modified human movement way back in 1890! If you want to climb walls like Spider-Man, don't look for a radioactive spider, instead look for Gecko Gloves, invented at Stamford University. So, could we find uru metal in real life? The answer is a surprising yes. Given the properties of uru, the closest substance we have in our galaxy is metallic hydrogen, and in order to obtain a sample you'll have to travel to Jupiter.
Scientists theorize that the core of some planets and stars have a center of metallic hydrogen. Mjolnir is made of uru metal, which is unbelievably strong given how light it is. Before you get on a rocket ship and scoop up some metallic hydrogen from the core of Jupiter, let's not forget the one thing you probably will never be able to obtain: enchantments from Odin. This might arguably explain some of the fantastic properties that the uru has, like being both light and strong, might be because of Odin's spells, which are adding to the already awesome strength possessed by uru metal. Can someone get Neil deGrasse Tyson in a room with Thor's dad?
13 WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Thor is a character that features prominently not only in Marvel comics but also, and originally, in Norse mythology. Marvel had a pretty good template to follow: Odin, Mjolnir, the Bifrost and other famous items and characters found within the pages of Thor have existed for quite some time for centuries within the Norse mythos. Did the Norse storytellers talk about how Uru metal was forged in the heart of a dying star? That would be a no. Uru is a dialect of the Bantu language of Tanzania, and it's also the name of a company that was recently bought by Adobe. How did the uru in Thor's hammer get it's name?
The "famous" Asgardian material was named by a famous "Lee" at Marvel Comics. That would be Stan Lee's brother, Larry Lieber (don't forget Stan Lee's real name is Stanley Martin Lieber). Lieber was credited with creating the fictional name, and the earliest iterations of Thor credits his favorite weapon as being called not Mjolnir but his "Uru Hammer." It was corrected years later by writer Roy Thomas, but kept the name uru to describe the material the hammer was constructed out of. Looks like genius runs in the family!
12 URU TRAP
Just how strong is uru? We've seen Mjolnir, a hammer forged from uru, break the strongest shields and knock down the mightiest of enemies, but what else can it do? To truly understand just how awesome uru is, we need to not look at the accomplishments of Thor Odinson, but of the mythical feats of his father, Odin Borson. In the beginning of time there was a cosmic storm referred to as the Mother of Thunder, also known as the God Tempest. It lived for eons, passing from system to system, making some believe that it had sentience. One day the storm the size of a galaxy made its way to Asgard and the All-Father put an end to its tempestuous tyranny.
As the story goes, Odin and the Mother of Thunder fought for days, and although it's unclear how one fights with a storm (cosmic or otherwise), Odin proved to be victorious. Using the power of the Odinforce, he was able to seal this galactic-sized storm into the strongest thing he had available: uru metal. What do you do with a nugget of metal that has a God Tempest trapped inside of it? You turn it into a hammer, of course. It was that piece of uru that was given to the dwarves of Nidavellir and forged into Mjolnir, the mighty weapon of Thor!
11 ASGARDIANS ASK FOR IT BY NAME
Asgardians have been around for thousands of years, and instead of traveling the galaxy in starships they're basically crazy space-vikings traveling the cosmos using magically enchanted weapons such as hammers, spears and swords. Hey, if this barbarian thing has been working for you for as long as it has, why fix something that's not broken? Asgardians love their uru weapons, and why not? Not only is it a strong, light material, it works exceptionally well with magic. If you're lucky enough to have Odin permanently enchant your weapon then be prepared to be the coolest cat on your side of the Bifrost.
Odin has several weapons forged of uru and recipients of his enchantments. Odin had a magnificent sword named the Odinsword (of course) as well as a spear named Gungnir. Heimdall's sword was made of uru, too. Another uru weapon was Jarnbjorn, the weapon that Thor used before he was worthy enough to wield Mjolnir. Speaking of Thor, even though he no longer wields Mjolnir, he still keeps uru metal close to him: the prosthetic left arm he wears is made from black uru. The rock troll Geirrodur had an uru spear named Tordenstock. Uroc (an animated statue) and the Destroyer (a living suit of armor) are two creatures comprised entirely of uru.
10 THE HEAT OF A STAR
Let's say you're able to get a hold of some uru and you want to make myself a hammer, how do you do that? Do you get an anvil and a forge and start making me some weapons? We're talking very special metal here that requires very special circumstances. Adamantium can be molded at 1,500 degrees fahrenheit (816 degrees celsius) and steel melts at 2,500 degrees fahrenheit (1370 degrees celsius), so what temperature does uru need to be worked with? If you saw Avengers: Infinity War, you saw that Thor needed to use the heat of a dying star to forge his new weapon, Stormbreaker.
The dwarves of Nidavellir were very adept at working with uru and dealing with immensely hot temperatures. They worked in caves and have forgers underground that have built such famous Asgardian weapons as Thor's Mjolnir and Odin's Gungnir. Where else could you find a forge fit enough to handle enchanted Asgardian metal? Pittsburgh, of course! Journey Into Mystery #118 printed in July 1965 and featured an intense battle between the God of Thunder and the Destroyer, a sentient suit of Asgardian armor made from uru. The Destroyer used a beam that sliced through Mjolnir, but Thor is able to repair his hammer two issues later, not in Nidavellir but at a Pittsburgh steel mill!
9 URU-N MAN
Comics fans got to explore further Asgardian legend in the 2011 Marvel crossover Fear Itself (referenced by characters as The Serpent's War). The Red Skull's daughter was able to summon to Earth several Asgardian hammers that came into possession of both heroes and villains. They were transformed into evil servants of Cul, Odin's brother. Cul and his army are immensely powerful, and as an act of strength, Cul destroyed Captain America's shield. In order to give the heroes a fighting chance, the Avengers turned to Iron Man, who knew a thing or two about constructing weapons.
Iron Man traveled to Svartalfheim (which was technically Nidavellir) in order to work with the dwarves and forge enchanted Asgardian uru weapons. The stress he was under was immense, and in order to get the blessing he needed from Odin to give his weapons that magical mystery punch, he had to sacrifice the most important thing he could think of to Odin: his sobriety. Afterward, he's able to construct weapons for such heroes as Wolverine, Red She-Hulk, and Doctor Strange, but the real marvel is Tony upgrading his armor with enchanted uru metal. It had an uncanny resemblance to the Destroyer! Of course, we can't tell you how the Asgardian enhancements worked because there were no actual drawn scenes depicting Tony using his new armor! Everyone, including Tony, was forced to return the uru, except for Red She-Hulk, who made off with her sword.
8 INFINITY URU
During the Marvel Comics limited series Thanos Quest, we saw the titular character collect the Infinity Stones (which at the time were called Infinity Gems) in order to kill off half the universe's population in an attempt to impress and court Mistress Death. Once he assembled all six items, he mounted them on his glove and thus the Infinity Gauntlet was born. In the movie Avengers: Infinity War, there's a slightly different variation on that story. In IW, Thanos traveled to Nidavellir and forced the dwarves there to make a gauntlet for him that would enable Thanos to tap into the power of the Stones.
In the comics, the Infinity Stones are easier to handle and are not as dangerous to make physical contact with. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill was only able to physically handle the Power Stone due to his Celestial heritage, and earlier in the film we saw Carina, the assistant to the Collector, die after trying to grab it. In Infinity War, Thanos instructed the dwarves of Nidavellir to make a gauntlet for him that was either made from an uru cast or possibly constructed from uru as well. We know that the Asgardians have an affinity for uru weapons, and in Thor: Ragnarok it's revealed by Hela that Odin was in possession of a fake version of the Gauntlet.
7 LIGHT YET STRONG
Just how heavy is Thor's hammer? Considering that Thor can lift over 100 tons, it seems like the hammer could weigh literally thousands of pounds and Thor could still throw it around like it was made from styrofoam. Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted that Thor's hammer weighed as much as a herd of 300 billion elephants, but this was due to Tyson erroneously thinking that Mjolnir was forged of the heart of a dying star, as opposed to in the heart of a dying star. However, we do know the dimensions and weight of Mjolnir: it's 22.7 inches long and weighs 42.3 pounds. Not bad for a weapon that can crack planets in half!
So is the result of Mjolnir being light and strong thanks to the uru metal that the hammer is comprised of? We have certainly seen other weapons made of uru that have done significant damage even without the enchantments of the All-Father. Looking at the length and weight of Mjolnir, those dimensions would place the density of the hammer at 2.13 grams per cubic centimeter, making the material lighter than aluminum! So Thor's Dad may have used some magic to make the uru stronger than it normally is, but given its rarity and the difficulty in forging the material, it's still pretty darn strong for its weight.
6 CAPTAIN AMERICA'S SHIELD
Captain America's shield proudly sports the red, white and blue colors of the American flag. The shield is as iconic as Steve Rogers and serves as a symbol for the American ideal. Captain America's indestructible shield serves as an allegory for the strengths and beliefs of the American people never shattering. However, there have been occasions in which Cap's shield has been broken. In the Marvel crossover Secret Wars back in 1984, Doctor Doom obtained the power of the Beyonder and used it to attack his enemies. The attack was so devastating it killed almost all of the heroes and also shattered Cap's shield. Eventually the heroes were revived and the shield was repaired.
In the 2011 crossover Fear Itself, Captain America's shield was destroyed by Cul, the brother of Odin. It was a shocking moment that showed not only a dire moment for our heroes, it also let readers know just how darn powerful Cul was. After Cul and his forces were defeated, Cap's shield was repaired by the dwarves of Svartalfheim with some improvements. Cap's shield was a blend of vibranium and steel and is considered one of the strongest weapons in the Marvel Universe, but when the dwarves repaired the shield they also added uru metal, making it stronger than ever.
5 STRONGER THAN ADAMANTIUM? VIBRANIUM?
So let's end the debate, shall we? Of all of the mythical Marvel metals, which is stronger: adamantium, vibranium, or uru? Should we take a moment to picture Thor with a vibranium hammer? Black Panther with a suit made of uru? Although vibranium is strong, it's not known primarily for its strength. Wakandan vibranium is known for its ability to absorb kinetic energy and Antarctic vibranium (also known as anti-metal) is famous for being able to destroy other metals on contact. So now that vibranium is out of the running, what is stronger: Wolverine's skeleton or Thor's hammer?
When you look at a diamond, you can judge its quality based on its durability (how easily it can be scratched) as well as toughness (its ability to withstand breakage). We're not sure if we can do the same test with adamantium and uru, so we'll just focus on toughness. We don't recall too many stories of adamantium breaking, but there are a number of stories that highlight Thor's hammer, comprised of uru, shattering on more than one occasion. We also don't hear stories of adamantium smashing planets apart or punching holes in dimensions. You can put an enchantment on any item, but uru handles magic exceptionally well. Given its strength and its inherent ability to handle magic, we would argue that uru has the potential to be stronger than adamantium. Nuff said!
4 UNBREAKABLE... EXCEPT WHEN IT ISN'T
Thor has used his mighty hammer to breach the armor of a Celestial, fly through space at impossible speeds as well as puncture holes in between dimensions. Is there nothing Mjolnir can't do? As mighty as his weapon may seem, it has been damaged or destroyed on more than one occasion, and Thor looks completely surprised every single time it's happened. In the previews for Thor: Ragnarok, audiences were shocked when they saw Hela grab Mjolnir in mid-air and destroy it without any effort. His weapon was later replaced by Stormbreaker in Avengers: Infinity War. In the comics, Stormbreaker was the replacement hammer for Beta Ray Bill, and Mjolnir's destruction happened at the hands of a variety of people.
The Asgardian animated suit of armor known as the Destroyer was able to slice the hammer in half with a beam from its gauntlet. Thor fought against Fenris and Ulik who were both armed with weapons made from uru. The three mighty warriors clashed their weapons together at the same time and the impact was so profound that Mjolnir was shattered as a result. Even Thor was directly responsible for Mjolnir's destruction; his hammer was reduced to rubble after using it in an attack against the Celestial known as Exitar. Non-Asgardians also were able to shatter the uru metal as well: the Molecule Man was able to atomize it thanks to his ability to control and manipulate matter.
3 THOR'S URU ARM
For Thor, 2010 was the start of some trying times. In the Marvel crossover Siege, we saw the destruction of Asgard at the hands of the Sentry. The crossover Fear Itself occurred in 2011 and Thor died in battle, fighting his uncle (don't worry; he was resurrected several issues later). In the 2014 crossover Original Sin, Thor not only learned he had a long-lost sister, he also became unworthy to hold Mjolnir after Nick Fury whispered to him "Gorr was right." Without his hammer, Thor went under the moniker Odinson and while battling Malekith the Accursed lost his left arm. It would have very appropriate to change the comic title from The Mighty Thor to The Unlucky Thor, but that wouldn't move books off the shelves.
Since Asgardians love themselves some uru metal, Thor went back to the dwarves of Nidavellir and had them fashion him a new arm. Using the same furnaces that constructed Mjolnir, the dwarves made Thor an arm made out of black uru. Screwbeard the dwarf told Thor that that arm would still be around even after all the stars turned to dust, providing Thor with one heck of a warranty. Indestructible weapon constructed from uru metal? Yeah, we've heard that one before. We'll believe it when we see it, Screwbeard.
It's hard to imagine Tony Stark without thinking about the Iron Man armor. When you envision Hawkeye, can you do so without him holding his bow and arrows? In Marvel Comics, there are many heroes with weapons just as iconic as the people that wield them. When you think of Thor and his hammer, the relationship is symbiotic, but dissimilar to the connection between Eddie Brock and the venom symbiote. Eddie and Venom have a parasitic symbiotic relationship (the symbiote benefits at the expense of the host) but the relationship between Thor and Mjolnir is more... mutually beneficial.
Korg in Thor: Ragnarok says that Thor had a special and intimate relationship with his hammer. Thor battled for centuries with his trusty Mjolnir at his side, and a big part of that relationship was due to the uru metal that comprised his hammer. Uru metal soaks up magic like a sponge and its strength and abilities only improve when it becomes enchanted, which is why uru is the preferred metal for Asgardian weapons. Thor was able to channel his energy though Mjolnir and the uru metal in turn became stronger due to Thor's already formidable strength. Let's see Captain America's shield do that!
1 DIMENSION BREAKING
We've heard about uru used in forging weapons, but what else could it be used for? We know that Iron Man coated his armor in uru metal during the Marvel crossover Fear Itself, but unfortunately readers never saw the armor in action to understand what the enchanted metal actually did to Tony's suit. In Asgard, besides dwarves there are trolls, and the king of trolls was named Geirrodur, who made his first appearance in Journey Into Mystery #101 back in February of 1964. Geirrodur came up with a pretty clever way to use uru and it wasn't by creating a weapon out of it.
With the help of Loki, Geirrodur became the king of trolls by overthrowing the previous ruler, Veidemaris. Geirrodur was a master blacksmith and weapons maker, so using his ingenuity, he came up with a design for a burrowing machine made out of uru. Because of the amazing properties of the metal, this machine was able to dig holes into other dimensions. His machine was able to construct a tunnel that connected Asgard to Earth. Geirrodur also used a spear made of uru metal named Tordenstock, which is also a very reliable cabinet you can purchase at Ikea. That last part is a lie; not even uru could make an Ikea cabinet sturdy!