You are not worthy …

So, a friend of mine sent me a link to this preview of Age of Ultron. It starts with a scene where all of the Avengers are sitting around, and then they all try to lift Thor’s hammer, which can only be lifted by someone who’s worthy. Everyone who tries fails … including Captain America. Now, initially this bugged me a little bit because, in comics canon, Cap is one of the heroes who can indeed wield it (see this description). But this was a bit of a throwaway scene before introducing the serious issue (at least by the video) and the movies don’t have to stick to comics canon, so that’s not that big a deal. But the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me, and I eventually realized that that was because the scene would have completely destroyed the characterization of both Cap and Thor as established in the movies.

Let’s start with Captain America … in fact, the movie Captain America. Why was it that Erskine pushed for the 98 pound weakling Steve Rogers over all of the other candidates? Why did Erskine think that Rogers could actually use the serum without going nuts like so many of the others did? What was it that Erskine say in Rogers that he didn’t see in any of the other candidates? His internal character. Steve Rogers was, without the serum, a generally good and virtuous person. And Erskine said that the serum enhanced what you already had, so bad qualities were magnified … but so were good qualities. So taking the serum should have made Cap a better person, and in fact almost a paragon of virtue. So would such a paragon not be worthy of wielding the hammer? Especially since Thor isn’t, in fact, that sort of paragon?

That’s the real issue here: based on their movie characterizations, there is no way that Cap is less worthy — on the basis of character — than Thor is. Cap may have changed through his movies, but Thor is still deeply flawed, as evidenced by his reaction to the others not being able to lift the hammer. Cap has already learned the lessons that Thor needed to learn in order to be worthy of the hammer. So in order to have Cap not being worthy while Thor still is make sense, there are really only two ways to go: either Stark is right that the hammer really is tied to Thor as a person — which makes the statement misleading and hurts the implication that Thor needs to prove himself or someone else might — or it’s judging on different criteria than overall character, which would need to be explained and is difficult to pull off.

So, as one part of a joke scene, it has rather startling implications. It probably would have been better to have Cap refuse to try instead of Black Widow … unless you use Cap trying to demonstrate something. And to do that, I suggest that Cap didn’t fail to lift the hammer because he wasn’t worthy, but because once he clearly knew that he could lift it — with that first attempt — he, himself, refused to wield it and pretended that he couldn’t. Why would he do this? Because he didn’t know what would happen to Thor if he actually took it up. Would Thor lose his powers? Would they be able to share it? Doing so could greatly impact Thor’s life, and all Cap would get out of it is avoiding looking “unworthy” to Thor and the others, and access to some power. Since Cap wasn’t even interested in power when he joined the Super Soldier program, it’s perfectly consistent with his character that getting the power of Thor wouldn’t really interest him, and that he’d be able to ignore what the others thought of his worthiness, and didn’t want to impact Thor that way. This is why his saying “No, thanks” works better than Widow’s, since these sorts of things are in his character.

But doing it this way could lead to — and I hope things do work out that way — a really cool later scene. We’re at the climax of the movie (or movies, I guess). Ultron is about to win. Thor is out. Cap needs a weapon. His shield isn’t handy, but Mjolnir is. He hesitates for a second, grabs it, and uses it. He wins the day (or at least the moment). Thor recovers and sees him holding it. The following conversation happens:

Thor (a little regretfully, perhaps): So you’re worthy now.
Cap: I was worthy then.
Thor: But then why …?
Cap: You being the only one able to wield it meant the world to you. I didn’t want to take that away.
Thor: And now?
Cap: It meant the world to everyone else.

I’m not sure if this is where they’re going. I hope something like this is where they’re going, because if not this manages to wipe out their own characterizations in a really bad way … over a silly, fun, little scene. Well, you’d have to give them credit for efficiency [grin].

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5 Responses to “You are not worthy …”

  1. malcolmthecynic Says:

    Perhaps it will be a sign of Cap’s character development – he was worthy once upon a time but his character has changed and the movie partially about getting that”worthiness” back.

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