Marvel Comics wasn’t far off on the magical abilities of this heavy iron hammer. Marvel claimed it’s made from a fictional metal called Uru, but the myths say it is only iron. Thor’s ferocity and pride as the greatest warrior of the Norse deities was also as the legends described. Aside from Norse Myhtology descriptions of him with red hair instead of blond, the character you see watching The Avengers is much the same as the legendary god of thunder.
In the stories told in the Prose Edda, the dwarf, Brokkr, was visiting Asgard, when Loki approached him with a challenge. After showing off several treasures made by the Sons of Ivaldi that were gifts to Asgard, Loki claimed that no other dwarf could ever make anything as beautiful or useful. Brokkr was offended and bet his head for Loki’s head that his brother could make more useful treasures.
Brokkr worked the forge while his brother worked his magic and they made three powerful items. The shape shifting Loki tried to interfere and is suspected to have been the gadfly that bit Brokkr in the eye. The bite distracted Brokkr long enough to make a mistake on the third magic item, which was Mjölnir. It came out shorter than the dwarf brothers had wished, but despite that mistake, Mjölnir along with the other two items impressed the deities of Asgard who then declared the dwarves the winner of the bet.
Loki was clever to keep his head so he informed the dwarves that they had won his head, but not his neck so they could not remove it from his body. Brokkr instead sewed Loki’s mouth shut. Mjölnir was then given to Thor along with a pair of gauntlets, Járngreipr, which would aid him in wielding the magical hammer.
Mjölnir was bestowed with unlimited striking power, allowing whoever wielded it to control how hard it would strike. When thrown, the magic helped the aim of the hammer so that it would never miss and would never fly so far that it could not be called back to its master. Another ability it was given was the ability to shrink down so that it could be easily concealed under a cloak.
In the Marvel Comics, Thor required possession of Mjölnir to wield lightning, but mythology is unclear about this detail. Thor was the god of thunder long before he held Mjölnir, and some stories support that he did wield lightning through the hammer, but Thor did not need it to call on the storm. It’s possible he used the hammer to enhance the strength of his lightning as it did the power of his punch.
One thing is certain, in the hands of Thor, Mjölnir is one of the most powerful weapons ever conjured up. In one story Mjölnir is stolen by giants who demand a ransom. Loki disguises Thor as the ransom and once the giants unwittingly hand him Mjölnir, he lays waste to every giant involved in the plot. Lucky for the rest of the universe, Thor was an honor bound warrior who fought to defend Asgard and his father Odin. He wasn’t a warmonger, but was not the kind of person you started a fight with either.
In the story of Ragnarök, Thor goes to battle against the children of Loki. Loki turned against the other gods of Asgard after being punished for his numerous crimes and imprisoned and tortured. Thor killed the giant serpant, Jörmungandr, whose venom ended Thor’s life seconds after Jörmungandr was dead. Ragnarök is meant as a prophetic story that has not yet come to pass and it is not said what will happen to Mjölnir after that. So for now, Thor is still the owner of Mjölnir.
I hope you have enjoyed this installment of Fantasy Weapons Weekly. Click here to view the catalog of all the fantasy weapons I’ve written about.