* The image of Loki in the feature of this article is by DeviantArtist HarvesterOfDreams.
Every since the first appearance of the Thor's mighty hammer, Mjolnir, in Journey Into Mystery #83, readers been curious about the inscription on the hammer that reads, "Whosoever holds this hammer, if (s)he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." They have wondered whether anyone other than Thor is "worthy" of holding the hammer, and sure enough, Marvel has revealed a number of other characters over the years who have shown to be worthy enough to wield Mjolnir. They have come in all shapes and sizes, from fellow superheroes, to relatives, to future relatives to even the occasional alien creature. Each of them, though, in one way or another, was determined to be "worthy."
Of course, the circumstances behind each one holding the hammer was very different, which opens up the question, naturally, of which one of the characters in question is the most worthy. We'll rank the 22 comic book characters (so not counting film) that have wielded Thor's hammer in the main Marvel continuity (so no What If...? stories, but inter-company crossovers count), while the "worthy" enchantment was in place (so no Hulk or Superman, who both lifted it when the enchantment was removed) in the order of least worthy to most worthy. We're sure that there will be some surprises along the way!
- Loki/Mjolnir art by HavesterOfDreams.
22 "STEVIL" ROGERS
We'll start with the character who clearly was not worthy of wielding Thor's hammer. During the crossover event, Secret Empire, it appeared as though Captain America, who had been altered by the Cosmic Cube so that he now believed in the teachings of Hydra, was actually still worthy of wielding Thor's hammer, which he took during battle with the Avengers.
In the end of the crossover, it turned out that he was a fake copy of the real Steve Rogers, and that one of his allies had used a sliver of the Cosmic Cube to change the enchantment when he wielded it. So he probably belongs off the list entirely, but the enchantment was still there, it was just altered, so we are keeping him here.
Another character who did not deserve to use the hammer at all under normal circumstances was Loki, the trickster god and Thor's brother. The only reason that Loki became eligible to wield Mjolnir was due to a spell cast during the crossover event, Axis. The spell inverted a group of superheroes and supervillains that had gathered in Genosha for an attack on Red Onslaught.
The villains had shown up to save the day after Red Onslaught had used counter-measures that prevented the heroes from stopping him. They did not want to let Red Onslaught destroy the planet. So now, depending on where you were on the axis, you were now on the opposite side. Thus, Thor became evil and Loki became good, and worthy of holding Mjolnir. This was all temporary, of course.
Air-Walker has had a strange life in comics. He was initially chosen to be Galactus' herald when he was a member of the Nova Corps. He served Galactus well, but ultimately was killed during one of his missions to find a planet for Galactus to devour. Galactus missed his herald, so he took the last spark of Air-Walker's soul and placed it into an android body. The new Air-Walker bored Galactus, so he sent him to find Silver Surfer to get him to come back to being a herald again.
When Air-Walker arrived on Earth, he encountered Thor. He shocked the thunder god by being able to life his hammer briefly! As it turned out, "worthy" only applies to humans, so androids can lift the hammer. Since his worthiness doesn't matter, he ends up low on the list.
19 AWESOME ANDY
One of the more tragic beings in the Marvel Universe is Awesome Andy. Originally introduced as the Awesome Android, the synthetic servant of the Mad Thinker, its technology was twisted and tinkered with until it slowly became sentient. It kept working for the Mad Thinker, but it obviously craved more out of life that didn't come down to evil plots or its main ability: absorbing other people's powers.
In an encounter with Thor, it was able to hold Thor's hammer and Thor convinced the android that it had absorbed his "worthiness." This was likely just a gambit by Thor, but hey, stranger things have happened. The Android was emancipated and became known as Awesome Andy. Sadly, his life as a sentient being ended up in heartbreak and it decided to abandon sentience and return to the employ of the Mad Thinker.
An area where the Marvel Comics Universe and the real ancient myths of the Greeks and Romans coincide is that they both depicted the heads of the various religious groups of gods as being very petty guys. Zeus is very often doing some messed up stuff that seems like it is based more in cruelty than anything else.
So you would not think that Zeus would be worthy enough to lift Mjolnir, but he also has a very special place as the top of his pantheon and as a result, he is treated with a lot of respect, including from Thor's hammer, apparently. That's why, when Zeus and Thor met for the first time in Thor Annual #8 (they ran into each other during the Trojan War), Thor is shocked to see that Zeus can stop his hammer.
It really seems like the only thing that makes Odin worthy of wielding Mjolnir is that he was the guy who had the hammer forged in the first place, and as a result, he has been able to lift it through most of his life. However, even there, in recent issues, Odin has found that Mjolnir no longer allows him to lift it. We also learned just how Odin created Mjolnir in the first place -- he trapped a sentient storm in the hammer.
Throughout his spotty comic book career, Odin has constantly done super shady things., mostly by playing with other people's lives as if they are merely pawns in his chess board. He and his son often clash over how callously Odin treats others.
With everything that we know about Odin, it is kind of shocking to note that Odin's father, Bor, was even worse than his son in a lot of ways! However, Bor was at least straightforward in his actions. He was a warrior king and he attacked every problem like it was a battle. That was obviously not always the smart way to go about things, but there was a certain innocence in his actions that was always lacking in Odin's underhandedness.
Going with the general theme of "Allfathers can lift Mjolnir," when Loki resurrected Bor and set him upon Earth (beset by visions that made it seem like Earth was controlled by demons), Bor was able to grab Mjolnir from Thor and wield it himself.
One of the rare Allfathers who actually seemed to be a swell guy, Buri was the head of the Asgardians before they were even known as Asgardians (back when they were simply the Aesir -- what we know now as the Asgardians is a merger of the Aesir and the Venir). His son Bor defeated him in combat, leading to Bor taking control of their people. When Bor later died, Odin defeated him, as well, leading to Odin being in charge.
Buri retreated to the mountains and only came out once to visit Thor as a baby. When Odin died and Thor was injured in combat, Buri rescued him and nursed him back to health. During this time, he showed that he could easily lift Mjolnir.
14 WONDER MAN
When Wonder Man debuted, he gained his powers from the Enchantress, who tricked him into working for the Masters of Evil. The ionic powers she gave him made him, in his mind, nearly as powerful as Thor. He sadly died soon after being introduced, sacrificing himself to save the Avengers (who he had infiltrated at Enchantress' behest). Then it was discovered that, due to the way his powers worked, he really couldn't die.
He re-joined the Avengers and was obsessed with comparing himself to Thor (everything was "I once knocked Thor out!" and "My punches hit like Thor's hammer). Well, years later, the Enchantress tried to enthrall him again and she even got him to capture the Avengers and siphon off of their abilities. This allowed him to lift Thor's hammer. He then realized what was going on and freed his friends and returned the hammer to Thor.
13 RED NORVELL
Speaking of Odin's sneaky plans, one of this sneakiest involved stripping his son of the title of Thor and using special weapons to give an Earthling the ability to lift Thor's hammer (plus seemingly be as strong as Thor). This was seemingly all part of a plot by Loki to get this new Thor to woo Sif away from Thor just to mess with his brother.
In the end, though, it turned out that Loki and Odin were working together. Odin had a vision that Thor would be killed by the Midgard Serpent, so he just made sure that a different Thor would die. Years later, in honor of him following his orders so well and dying in place of his son, Odin resurrected Red Norvell and made him a more traditional Norse hero.
12 MIGUEL O'HARA
In 1992, Marvel debuted "Marvel 2099," a whole line of comics that were set in the future of the Marvel Universe. One of the most popular characters in the series was Miguel O'Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099. When the comic book industry went into a big sales tailspin, it naturally hit this new line of books hard and after a few attempts to revive interest in the line (like having Doctor Doom invade and take over the United States), the regular line ended.
In 1998, Marvel published a one-shot called 2099: Manifest Destiny, to wrap everything up. Captain America was revived in the future and he was given Mjolnir and he fought the good fight until he died. Before he died, he handed the hammer over to Miguel, who became the new Thor and helped guide the advance of the human race over the next century.
Woden was the son of Sif and Thor. He appeared in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy series, which was set in the future of the Marvel Universe. When Sif and Thor got married, Sif gave up being an adventurer but Thor refused to do so. Without Thor there to guide him, Woden became a little jerk. Sif got Odin to force Thor to give up adventuring. Odin agreed and Thor helped teach Woden to become a hero.
The problem was, Thor eventually forgot how to be one, as he drank himself to the point he was no longer worthy. Woden was so disgusted that he left home. He returned years later when Loki attacked Asgard. Woden claimed his birthright and he was able to pick up Mjolnir and become a great hero, just like his father once was.
Magni was part of a long-running plot line during Dan Jurgens' run on Thor that saw Thor bring Asgard to Earth and then, slowly take over Earth, as Thor had received the Odinforce after Odin's death (one of Odin's many temporary deaths in the comics). King Thor ends up marrying the Enchantress and they give birth to a song, Magni, in 2020.
Magni was almost killed when Balder and the heroes of Earth tried to rebel against King Thor. They were all killed, including Captain America and Wolverine. Over a hundred years later, Magni was convinced by Thor's old significant other, Sif, that his father had gone power mad. Magni ended up picking up Mjolnir and going to war with his father. Ultimately, King Thor realized his son was right and Thor went back in time to prevent his reign from ever happening, sadly also erasing Magni from history.
The most impressive thing about Dargo Ktor, the young man who became the Thor of the future, is how willing he was to give up his great power soon after becoming worthy of it. Dargo was attending a protest of the monolithic corporation that ruled over Dargo's era when trolls were sent by the corporation to attack the protesters. A number of the protesters were worshipers of Thor and as a result, they had his hammer set up on a block like Excalibur. Dargo just needed a weapon to protect himself and shockingly picked up the hammer and became the new Thor!
However, the reason the hammer was in the future was that Loki had brought it there to keep it away from his brother in the past. So Dargo heroically gave up the hammer and sent it back to its rightful time and owner (it eventually came back).
During Walter Simonson's iconic run on Thor, he had an amazing story arc where Loki transformed Thor into a frog. This allowed Loki to secretly take control of Asgard using a duplicate of Thor under his command. However, the frog Thor befriended the other frogs in Central Park and they helped him reach Mjolnir, which Thor was able to take control of (being Thor still, of course) and become Thor, Frog of Thunder! He went to Asgard and was transformed back into his rightful body.
However, a sliver of Mjolnir was accidentally kicked off by one of Thor's flying goats and one of Thor's frog friends, Puddlejump (secretly also a transformed human) picked up the sliver and was worthy of the hammer and became Throg!
7 SQUIRREL GIRL
The hook with Squirrel Girl for years is that she was able to defeat every enemy. This was due to how her first appearance saw her (and her army of squirrels) defeat Doctor Doom. So since then, a recurring gag was showing her defeat many different major Marvel villains, from Thanos to Galactus.
In the graphic novel, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats up the Marvel Universe, Squirrel Girl is accidentally cloned. Her other self, Allene, decides that squirrels needs to be in charge and proceeds to beat up the Marvel Universe. She seemingly even kills Doreen (the original Squirrel Girl) when she tries to stop her, but luckily, from Allene's earlier defeat of the Avengers, Mjolnir was nearby and Doreen picked it up and became Thor (temporarily)!
6 ERIC MASTERSON
Eric Masterson was an architect who Thor befriended and when Eric was fatally wounded during a battle between Thor and a super villain, a guilty Thor decided to merge with Eric, saving Eric's life and bringing back the old Don Blake/Thor situation, only now with Eric in place of Don Blake. This went on for a while until Thor was forced to kill his own brother, Loki. Balder exiled Thor and surprisingly, Eric regained the ability to turn into Thor!
He served as Thor in his own particular style until the original Thor returned and Eric was given an enchanted mace to become Thunderstrike. Eric later took up the cursed Bloodaxe to defeat Seth (the god of Death), leading to him becoming obsessed with blood lust. He ended up breaking free of the curse, but he died in the process.
5 THOR ODINSON
The most notable example of Mjolnir's wielder is clearly Thor Odinson, the hero who first picked up the hammer all the way back in Journey Into Mystery #83. Thor used the hammer for justice for many decades. However, in recent years, he was a bit troubled. He fought against Gorr, the God Butcher, a powerful alien who was going around killing the gods of different planets. When Thor ultimately stopped him, Gorr told him that Thor winning made the universe a worse off place.
Later, Nick Fury (with the power of the Watcher) confirmed that that was true. Thor then became unworthy of using his hammer. He bummed around the universe using different weapons before only recently returning to his hammer. Since he was actually dubbed "unworthy" at one point, we have to have him relatively low on the list.
4 WONDER WOMAN
One of the greatest warriors of all time, Wonder Woman balances that aspect of her personality by also being one of the biggest pursuers of peace in the world, as well as one of the most notable believers in the power of Truth. During the DC vs. Marvel crossover, Thor battled against Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel's magical lightning ended up zapping Thor's hammer to DC's Earth.
Wonder Woman found it and picked it up, transforming into a perfect version of herself as Thor. She then had to battle Storm of the X-Men. Wonder Woman ultimately determined that it was unfair of her to defeat Storm while using Thor's hammer, so she rescinded the hammer and was then defeated in battle by Storm. Like Dargo, her giving up the hammer might have been her most worthy action!
3 BETA RAY BILL
Beta Ray Bill was part of an alien race that had lost their home planet. They all packed into a fleet of space arks to go out and find a new home. The people all got into suspended animation while Beta Ray Bill and his sentient ship, Skuttlebutt, traveled the universe looking for a new home for their people. While traveling past Earth, they ended up going too close and Earth believed that they were under attack.
Thor was sent to defend the planet and he battled with Beta Ray Bill until a shocking moment occurred. When Thor was separated from his hammer and turned into Don Blake, Beta Ray Bill picked up the hammer and turned into a Thor-like version of himself. Ultimately, Odin made a second hammer for Beta Ray Bill, called Stormbreaker, that made him nearly as powerful as Thor.
2 STEVE ROGERS (CAPTAIN AMERICA)
During the late 1980s, Captain America and Iron Man were going through some troubles. Captain America split from the United States government and took the new superhero name, simply The Captain. Iron Man, meanwhile, was attacking anyone who used Stark armor technology, to keep his armor tech from being stolen and used against him (or other innocents). When Iron Man attacked the prison guards at the Vault (the Guardsmen), Cap showed up and they fought.
When Cap next met Thor, Thor was unsure of who to side with, but then during a battle, Thor was separated from his hammer and The Captain picked it up and Thor realized that no matter what the situation was, he knew he could trust that Steve Rogers was doing the noble thing in the situation.
1 JANE FOSTER
Amazingly, Jane Foster was actually ruled "unworthy" of being a god earlier in her life, when she and Thor were trying to get married and Thor's father, Odin, objected. Normally, that would cause her to fall down the list a bit, but since we know Odin is a lying, sleazy dude who will do anything to get his own way (and his own way was breaking up Thor and Jane), then we don't believe that she was ever really "unworthy."
What she has shown since she has taken over as the new Thor has been all the signs of being the worthiest Thor yet. Mjolnir, itself, for instance, has opened itself to her in a way that it never has for any other Thor. Plus, she just recently sacrificed her very life to stop the evil Mangog, proving her worthiness in the middle of a terrible tragedy.