“Worthiness” is a pretty vague quality, but it seems like if anyone in the MCU could pass the toughest of worthiness tests, it would be Steve Rogers, making it all the more perplexing that the noble Captain America was seemingly unable to lift Thor’s hammer in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
There have been many theories of why Steve was apparently unworthy of picking up Mjölnir in the 2015 film, ranging from the dark and elaborate to the knowingly silly. Of course, other fans have opted for the simple and somewhat underwhelming explanation that Cap, in fact, could lift the hammer, but was only pretending to struggle so as not to bruise his friend Thor’s ego. This new theory on Reddit, meanwhile, offers a similarly concise suggestion of why Steve was unworthy, while also hinting at a development to come in next year’s Avengers 4.
A year after Earth’s Mightiest Heroes defeated Ultron, the team was torn apart in Captain America: Civil War, and their conflict only intensified when it came to light that it was a brainwashed Bucky Barnes who killed Tony Stark’s parents. In a short post from user KennyDRick, it’s speculated that here lies the key to Cap’s unworthiness.
“I was doing some thinking and came to the conclusion that the reason Cap [couldn’t] wield Thor’s hammer was because he was still hiding the reality of what happened to Stark’s parents from Tony. Aside from that I feel he should have been worthy to wield it.”
While there’s not a lot to back up this theory, it’s admittedly hard to pin down many other morally dubious actions you could place on Steve Rogers up to that point that could tarnish his worthiness, even if his decision to keep this information from Stark was arguably justified.
In any case, now that the secret’s out in the open, KennyDRick suggests that Captain America may indeed be capable of lifting Mjölnir, and the upcoming Avengers 4 could finally see him doing so at the climax of the character’s arc – or at least lift a new version of the hammer after the first one was destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok.
Again, evidence seems very thin for this idea, but if this isn’t what Avengers 4 has in store for us, then you can at least expect some kind of culmination point for Cap’s tumultuous, decade-spanning journey when the film hits theaters on May 3rd, 2019.