He is truly meant to be the best of us. In a handful of moments in Marvel comics history, Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America, proved himself to be worthy of lifting the mighty hammer, Mjölnir.
As fans know, those who can lift Thor’s hammer are those so pure of heart, they may have the right to rule Asgard. But most times Steve Rogers lifted the hammer, becoming king was never his intention. He was always just looking out for the little guy. And that’s what he was doing in Avengers: Endgame.
In the final, seemingly hopeless battle of Avengers: Endgame, Captain America surprises audiences and maybe even himself when he lifts Mjölnir to sock it to Thanos. (Thor, however, saw it coming. Smiling to himself, he shouts: “I knew it.”)
It’s the kind of moment that’s made for cinema. But some Marvel fans may have seen it coming, too. Not only because it was foreshadowed in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, but because there have been a handful of times in comics when Captain America was worthy to lift the hammer.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the moments it’s happened before that may have spoiled Avengers: Endgame’s biggest moment for comic book fans.
The Mighty Thor #390 (1988)
One of the first times Cap lifted Mjölnir was in The Mighty Thor #390, published in 1988. At the time, Steven Rogers wasn’t “Captain America” — he was a man without a country operating as “The Captain.” Reminiscent of his stint as the vigilante Nomad, Cap again gave up the shield and name when he disagreed with the creation of the Commission on Superhuman Activities.
In The Mighty Thor, the God of Thunder had been away and comes back to Earth only to find out how much the team has changed, including Steve Rogers. When some Egyptian deities arrive on Earth and begin their attack, Thor and Steve team up for old time’s sake, and when things get rough, Steve briefly lifts Mjölnir, proving to Thor that Steve Rogers is still himself, Captain America or not.
Fear Itself #7 (2011)
Many years passed before Cap could lift Thor’s hammer again. But in the 2011 Fear Itself crossover event written by Matt Fraction, Cap rallies the Avengers against the Asgardian God of Fear, the Serpent, which allows him to use Mjölnir. This is the first time as Captain America that Steve Rogers lifted the hammer.
Secret Empire: Free Comic Book Day (2017)
In the controversial and poorly timed storyline Secret Empire, a Marvel crossover event that saw Hydra’s resurgence (which accidentally coincided with widespread demonstrations of nationalism in the United States), a “rewritten” Steve Rogers who was a double agent for Hydra lifts Mjölnir in the Free Comic Book Day prologue for Secret Empire.
This moment, which was leaked online ahead of Free Comic Book Day in 2017, caused polarizing reactions online that stemmed from the strong connotations of Nazism and Norse mythology. But as the storyline later revealed, the hammer “Nazi Cap” lifted wasn’t the genuine Mjölnir.
Because of reality being rewritten by a sentient cosmic cube called Kobik, the hammer that Cap lifted in Secret Empire was also rewritten to feature the inscription, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be STRONGEST, shall possess the power of Hydra.” Soon enough, the real Captain America came roaring back and punched his fake Nazi double in his dumb face, using the real Mjölnir.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
In a brilliant Easter egg that became foreshadowing, the Avengers’ afterparty in Age of Ultron saw Captain America (Chris Evans) try to lift Mjölnir. To the shock of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the hammer barely nudges before Cap gives up. As Avengers: Endgame proved, Steve was indeed worthy. It just wasn’t his time.
Avengers: Endgame will be released in theaters on April 26.