Recently on Reddit, the Russo brothers did an AMA after the massive success of Avengers: Endgame. In the AMA, u/GeneralBenKenobi (hello there!) asked the Russo brothers, “Could Captain America always weird Mjolnir (meaning he could have picked it up in Age of Ultron and decided not to), or did he progressively get more worthy over time?” Anthony Russo responded, “He always could. Our interpretation of the famous scene in Ultron was that he realized he could pick up Mjolnir he quickly chose not to, because he didn’t want to embarrass Thor.”
In unison, fans cried out, “I knew it!” as Thor did at that moment in the movie. Well, all that is a bunch of horseshit. Captain America was not always able to wield Mjolnir. It’s a classic case of the Russo Brothers getting caught with their pants down.
Before we get to the why, let’s lay down some ground rules. According to Einstein, time is made of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff. So if you think that if Cap is ever available to weird Mjolnir, he was always worthy because time is relative, you’re wrong. It’s stated in the rules set by Professor Hulk in Endgame that once you go to the past, it becomes your present. So, no, Captain America wasn’t always worthy. Time travel is sticky stuff.
The Scale Of The Ultron Scene Was Too Small
One of the first things you should consider is the sense of scale when talking worthiness to Mjolnir. Thor deals with gigantic, cosmic threats that affect the nine realms. Loki wanted to take over the throne in the first Thor, Malaketh in the second Thor movie and so on. Those are gigantic, super threats to life as the MCU knows it. Thor is worthy because he protects everyone from said cosmic threats. When Captain America attempts to lift Mjolnir in a game, the sense of scale is not near as big, as a matter of fact, it just doesn’t matter. When the universe needed help the most, when Thanos was on the verge of being re-snapped, Captain America was selfless and completely worthy to wield Mjolnir because of the scale of the situation. It wasn’t a bar game, it was do or die.
That begs the question of Vision from the very same movie. In a sort of call back to the scene where everyone was attempting to lift the hammer, Vision lifts it to hand it to Thor. This is a bit of a grey area. While Vision isn’t completely human, he should be able to lift because he’s simply a machine. On the other hand, he’s given life through the Soul Stone in his head. But, since Vision is so young, his “heart” of you would call it that, is pure and without malice. While neither of these theories are answered, they’re still fun to speculate on.
Captain America Had to Taste Defeat To Become Worthy
It may sound cliche, but Captain America had to become humble in defeat to become worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Being humble in victory is easy, and an easy path. There’s nothing to be humble about, in honesty. In defeat, you learn who you really are. After losing the battle and half of the entire universe in Infinity War, Captain America truly learned how deep losing can run. Sure, he lost his best friend Bucky in World War 2, but he still saved the day. He always came out on top. This time he did not, he lost. In that defeat he became humble. Cap was not truly stripped of everything until The Decimation. He asked help from Tony Stark, who he didn’t get along with and destroyed an airport fighting. We’ve seen arrogance and humbleness play a part in wielding Mjolnir before, in the first Thor movie. When Thor went to the home of the frost giants to wage battle because he knew he could, he became too arrogant. Odin banished him and it wasn’t until he became humble again when he wanted to protect Earth and Jane from Loki’s onslaught.
Captain America Knew Bucky’s Secret And Lied
This one is the most glaring hole in the Russo brothers and Kevin Feige’s “he was always worthy” theory. Captain America knew about and blatantly hid the murder of the Stark family from Tony Stark because of Bucky’s involvement. Someone who lies and covers up a murder will never be worthy of Mjolnir. We see that play out in Civil War and is an integral part of Captain America’s arc as a whole. Not telling Tony Stark about the incident automatically rules him out as being worthy of wielding the hammer. Then in the final moments of Civil War, he has emotion fueled hatred for Iron Man, hince him bashing his helmet on in a blind rage. It’s not until after those moments, he can pick up the hammer.
So, as you can see, it’s a combination of things that allows a being to pick up Mjolnir. While Captain America would become worthy of wielding it eventually, he wasn’t always capable of doing so.