Years after he initially got the hammer to budge a little in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Endgame finally had Captain America wield Mjolnir in a triumphant moment during the movie’s big final battle. The revelation that Steve Rogers is worthy has resulted in much theorizing and coloring of past MCU events in a new light. For instance, the Russos now claim Cap could have lifted the weapon in Ultron but chose not to.
Similarly, there’s a moment in Avengers: Infinity War when Steve manages to hold off Thanos during the last push against the Mad Titan in Wakanda. It was mighty impressive, as the super-soldier was able to stand his ground despite his foe possessing a full Infinity Gauntlet of Infinity Stones at the time. In light of Endgame, then, did this happen because the Gauntlet sensed Cap’s worthiness, thereby keeping Thanos at bay?
According to co-writer Christopher Markus, who penned the script for both movies with Stephen McFeely, the answer is no. It’s actually far simpler than that. Markus believes that Thanos simply wasn’t putting his all into the confrontation as he was momentarily taken aback by Cap’s determination and willpower.
“I think in that moment, Thanos is impressed by Steve’s will. He’s like, ‘I can’t believe this guy who apparently has no powers is trying this.’ He’s almost like, ‘Really? Really?'”
This makes sense as, demented though he is, Thanos displayed a certain respect for the Avengers in IW. He was aware of Tony Stark and even showed some sympathy for Iron Man when he was about to kill him. It seems he shared a similar recognition of Cap’s own dedication to his cause, something the Titan knows something about.
In the end, of course, the assembled heroes proved that bit more dedicated as they were able to reverse Thanos’ actions and wipe him from existence. Maybe he should’ve put his back into his first skirmish with Captain America in Avengers: Infinity War.