One of the biggest pieces of news coming out of San Diego Comic Con is that Taika Waititi will be directing Thor: Love and Thunder, which will not only bring back Natalie Portman as Jane Foster (who bowed out after Thor: The Dark World and did some minor cameo stuff in Avengers: Endgame), but it will have her take control of Mjolnir. Following in the footsteps of Vision and Captain America, Jane will be showing everyone that she is indeed worthy.
Jane as Thor has been a pretty big part of Jason Aaron’s lengthy Thor run, which only just ended. For a while, Thor Odinson believed himself unworthy to lift Mjolnir and the hammer instead fell into the hands of Jane. As with many instances such as this, the replacement hero lasted for a couple years before the original returned to the role and the status quo went back to normal. Hell, this isn’t even Thor’s first rodeo on this. We had Eric Masterson back in the 90s, but he didn’t have boobs, so people didn’t freak out about it as much.
There is precedent when it comes to Mjolnir being wielded by a lady. Here’s look at Thor’s more feminine history from Marvel Comics.
So when it comes to the more modern version of Jane Foster Thor, you might as well just read Jim Dandy’s Jane Foster as Thor Explained piece. I’m going to be minimally redundant on the subject and will instead discuss the original instance of the concept, even if it was non-canon.
One of the earliest What If? issues asked, “What if Jane Foster had found the hammer of Thor?” Chased around by rock aliens, Donald Blake was meant to discover a walking stick, smack it against a rock, and transform into the Mighty Thor with the stick becoming his hammer Mjolnir. Odin’s plans are a little out there, but sure, why not. In this reality, Jane fell into the cave where the hammer was. Going through the same motions Blake went through, Jane transformed into a female Thor. Deciding to call herself Thordis, she rescued Blake, beat up the rock people, and became the world’s most powerful superheroine.
She had plenty of identical adventures to mainstream Thor and even joined the Avengers (Giant Man took over Wasp’s role when it came to undressing Thordis with his eyes), but as it goes, Loki had a big, sinister plot going on. In the end, Donald Blake returned to his Thor form and was given back Mjolnir. Thor shacked up with Sif, but Jane got the consolation prize of marrying Odin.
Rogue’s ability to carry Mjolnir didn’t seem to come from worthiness, but absorbing Thor himself. During her first appearance where Mystique’s gang of evil mutants attacked the Avengers, Rogue not only absorbed Ms. Marvel’s powers and life force, but she did the same to Thor, leaving his body nothing more than a husk. Things didn’t go so well for Rogue at first, as she accidentally killed her allies and Loki found her easy pickings to manipulate into overthrowing Odin and ruling Asgard.
Rogue saw through Loki’s lies purely through witnessing Odin’s heartbreak. In her mind, Thor appeared before her, explaining that all this time she was looking to fill the void in her soul and accepting her Thorhood would do just that. He told her, “Thor is not simply a person. Thor is an ideal, an example for others to follow. This is your fate, your true destiny! To be that ideal, to be Thor!”
Rogue tore apart Loki’s forces and picked up where her predecessor left off as the hero of Asgard and Midgard. Coincidentally, the inscription on her hammer was changed to say, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he – or she – be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
In the 90s, Marvel and DC were personified as two giant, cosmic brothers who would fight for dominance until one universe was destroyed. lt was decided that these universes had to settle which reality would survive through a best of 11 series of one-on-one fights featuring heroes from their worlds. Trillions of lives seriously depended on Robin vs. Jubilee. Yikes.
One of the fights had Thor take on Captain Marvel. That’s…ummmm…the DC Captain Marvel with the “SHAZAM” and all that. Thor won due to logic. Captain Marvel got his powers from lightning and Thor was the God of Thunder. Unfortunately, his victory transported Mjolnir elsewhere, where Wonder Woman found it. While musing about the definition of what is considered “worthy,” she picked it up and became even more powerful than normal.
When faced with her Marvel opponent Storm, Wonder Woman decided to make the fight fair by dropping Mjolnir. Storm proceeded to zap her into oblivion, so I can only imagine a bunch of DC Universe civilians giving her the sarcastic thumbs up. “We’re all going to be wiped out into oblivion, but you got to hold onto your honor. That’s fantastic. We’re happy for you. Really.”
Later on, as the heroes of both worlds fought Darkseid and Thanos, Thor lost his hammer yet again. Wonder Woman casually handed it to him and it took Thor a second to realize that that shouldn’t have been possible.
The final issue of the long-running second volume of What If? featured a story based on the idea of Galactus and the Beyonder killing each other during Secret Wars, leaving the heroes and villains stranded on Battle World. 25 years later, there’s mostly a sense of peace among former enemies and everyone had long settled down. The second generation included the offsprings of Wolverine/Storm, Thor/Enchantress, She-Hulk/Hawkeye, Human Torch/Wasp, Dr. Doom/Enchantress, Titania/Absorbing Man, and Molecule Man/Volcana. It also had Sarah Rogers, otherwise known as Crusader, the daughter of Captain America and Rogue.
How did that conception even happen? I’ll leave that to you to figure out.
The heroic offspring worked together to take on the evil Vincent Von Doom, who, for the record, was a complete and utter punk compared to his pop. Crusader was magic’d away, but returned to the stronghold with Mjolnir in hand. Her boyfriend Bravado (Thor’s son, Balder Blake) wasn’t exactly thrilled that Crusader was worthy when he wasn’t. Thor shrugged it off with a smile. If Mjolnir said she was all good, who were they to argue?
Sarah Rogers was wielding Cap’s shield and Mjolnir years before Superman ever did and unlike him, she was legitimately considered worthy. Impressive.
EARTH X THOR
In the alternate future of Earth X, it wouldn’t have been all so interesting if the ageless Thor wasn’t visually changed up in some way. Loki had tricked Odin into believing that Thor needed another lesson in humility and so Thor was turned into a woman, mainly for him to deal with being ogled by men all the time. Loki thought it was hilarious and joked about how he gave Hercules his consent to make a move on his sister.
Being a woman didn’t really have much of an effect on the story, mainly because when it came to all the Asgardian goings on, Thor wasn’t even the main hero. Rather, it was Loki, who came to realize that their entire existence was a sham and they needed to fight back. In the Earth X reality, the idea was that nearly everyone was linked to the mutant gene. Inhumans? Mutants. Spider-Man? Mutant. Fantastic Four? Mutants. Hulk? Mutant. The Celestials created a failsafe in the beings they tampered with so that when they evolved into life forms of unlimited power (such as Franklin Richards), they would become susceptible to the beliefs of others.
What I mean by that is that somewhere some aliens got so evolved that their powers were unlimited. They came to Earth and were molded by belief to be gods. Thor, Loki, Odin, Hercules, and so on were nothing but brainwashed aliens all along and didn’t even realize it. Naturally, the Lord of Lies was the one to figure out that they were living lies.
It took a while for Thor to accept that Loki was telling the truth after all. She willed herself back into male form and became horrified. Eventually, the two joined forces and decided on what it was they wanted to be. Thor chose to be Donald Blake and exist as a doctor. Loki took over for his brother and transformed himself into the new Thor. But, you know, the kind of Thor that has a penis.
Back in the day, Chris Claremont and Art Adams did a big two-parter that dealt with the X-Men and New Mutants being lured into Asgard by Loki. It was notable for Loki giving Storm a very Mjolnir-like enchanted hammer called Stormcaster. Upon realizing that she was being manipulated, she gave it up, as well as her status of Goddess of Thunder. It was just a ploy by Loki in the end, but if push came to shove, would Storm have been recognized as worthy to pick up the real deal Mjolnir?
Years later, after the Siege on Asgard, Thor visited Queen Storm in Wakanda. In the aftermath of Siege, he discovered a box with Storm’s name on it. Opening up, they found Stormcaster. Storm was drawn to it and upon picking it up, she regained her goddess form and returned to Loki’s sway. Thor tried to talk her down and had to get physical. Becoming lucid, Storm grabbed Mjolnir from Thor’s hand and used it to smash Stormcaster to bits. She returned to her normal self and the two pondered the meaning of Loki’s posthumous intentions.
The What If? miniseries based on Age of Ultron was really cool outside of the bookends. The first issue is droll and depressing while the last issue is nihilistic and depressing. The series goes with the idea that Wolverine’s constant time travel in Age of Ultron proper caused tons of problems across the multiverse. At random points in Marvel history, certain characters would see all the different alternate realities at once, have an aneurysm, and die. Then we’d see how history would be changed by their mysterious deaths.
Thor was in the midst of fighting the Midgard Serpent Jormungand, where they were meant to destroy each other and fulfill Ragnarok. Instead, Thor suddenly started screaming and keeled over. Without Thor to complete the prophecy, Asgardian monsters ran rampant across Earth. Flash forward later where the only team of heroes left was made up of Nick Fury, Black Widow, Silver Sable, Falcon, Shang-Chi, and Microchip. The team flew towards Jormungand and all the other monstrosities in a Quinjet, armed with a lot of stolen Dr. Doom tech. Widow jumped out of the plane and Microchip realized that they were merely a distraction (or as Fury put it, “sacrifice”) for the real main event assault.
Picking up Mjolnir, Black Widow flew right at the serpent. Decades later, Nick Fury told the story, bound to a wheelchair. He was the lone survivor and admired the statues commemorating Black Widow and her fallen Valkyries.
Unfortunately, the fifth issue decided to mash up everything by having Ultrons infest all the worlds brought up in the miniseries and wiping them all out until a handful of alternate reality survivors started their own Exiles knockoff on a dead world. So Goddess Black Widow survived with a couple other characters, but at the cost of four realities being wiped out completely. That’s disheartening.
THE THORS OF BATTLEWORLD
For those who haven’t read Marvel’s massive Secret Wars event from 2015, here’s the quick version: the multiverse was imploding upon itself and the only thing stopping total annihilation was the team of Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, and Molecule Man. In the aftermath, all that was left was a planet called Battleworld made up of pieces of alternate universes. Every world that survived the implosion was recreated as a kingdom. Doom ruled as God and the Thors did his bidding as police sheriffs. Each kingdom would have someone deemed worthy enough to wield their own version of Mjolnir or a Mjolnir-like weapon.
There were several hammer-wielders who were some variation of Thor Odinson, but many others got to shine. This meant a handful of women deemed worthy. I’d be here all day if I gave each one her own profile, so I’m just going to list them off: Jane Foster, Storm, Angela, Dazzler, Valkyrie, Gamora, Katherine Renner, Lila Rhodes, Sif, Susan Storm, Tarene, and Ti Asha Ra.
Squirrel Girl’s whole deal is that despite her ridiculous powerset, name, and appearance, she’s one of Marvel’s heavy hitters. She’s the one who made her debut defeating Dr. Doom, after all. In one of her adventures, Doreen accidentally got cloned by a piece of Stark tech. While it was neat for her at first, it soon became apparent that her clone was evil.
The evil Squirrel Girl (named Allene to keep things less confusing) was able to overwhelm the original and went on to defeat pretty much all the Marvel heroes. She then stole a bunch of weapons from them, like an Iron Man gauntlet, Doc Ock arms, Hawkeye’s arrows, etc. She couldn’t budge Mjolnir, naturally. Doreen tried to stop her once again and was instead teleported to the moon, where she was doomed to suffocate.
Squirrel Girl’s BFF squirrel Tippy Toe stole the Iron Man gauntlet and the teleporter, flew to Mjolnir’s whereabouts, and teleported the hammer to the moon, next to Doreen’s dying body. Moments later, Doreen (who was surprisingly never referred to as “Thoreen”) appeared before Allene with a whole bunch of pissed off superheroes joining the fight. Once Allene was dealt with, Doreen gave the weapon back to Jane.
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