While the Asgardian God of Thunder could only wield the hammer Mjölnir once he’d proven himself worthy, the situation was somewhat reversed for Thor concept artist Charlie Wen, who had to design a hammer that was worthy of the God of Thunder.
Most viewers were pretty content with the version wielded by Chris Hemsworth in the eventual film, but there were evidently plenty more, often weirder designs for the trademark weapon that could’ve made the cut. In fact, Wen posted some early artwork to Facebook just the other day, where he also gave a little context on his involvement with the 2011 pic.
“I promised a few weeks ago that I’d take you back to the very early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I knew @ryan_meinerding_art way back because I’d hired him onto God of War, then a few years later, he invited me to meet with Kevin @kevfeige to talk about helping to develop more films for Marvel since Ironman was such a success.
I was supposed to have a long lead time to develop the look and feel of the Avengers world years before production, which would have been incredible to have that kind of time- but I was pulled into developing the look and feel of Thor’s world first as it needed help. I began design passes for Thor & Asgard, but was asked to design his hammer (Mjölnir) first because Hasbro needed to begin production on its toy line (shortly after this, @kenneth_branagh joined on to direct the film!— huge fan since Henry V!).
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“The first image is the initial pass that goes from more traditional to wacky. The purpose was to begin establishing with Kevin a sense of boundaries and comfort levels for the magical realms of the MCU (in comparison to the earthly ground of Ironman’s tech). It’s always necessary to go too far! In these stages, it was paramount to begin designing the MCU as a connected and cohesive universe. The following images are hammer designs that got approved for the film (and toy;).”
The design the studio eventually went for would become one of the defining accessories of Hemsworth’s character, from the first Thor right through to the weapon’s eventual destruction at the hands of Hela in last year’s Ragnarok. Fortunately, the Stormbreaker axe has proven to be a worthy replacement that could’ve saved the universe, if only the God of Thunder had remembered to aim for the head.