WARNING: Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and the MCU will be found below.
One of the bigger fan payoffs of the entire MCU played out near the end of Avengers: Endgame, and it was a delight to witness in a crowded theater. During the climactic battle against Thanos, Captain America plucked up Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, which called back a long-standing question that’s lingered since Age of Ultron. This involved Steve Rogers being able to wiggle the weapon while Thor’s face swiftly transitioned from smugness to “dammit.”
In Endgame, Lebowski Thor looked delighted, though, when Cap was able to scoop up the hammer and twirl it with a seemingly practiced hand. The ease at which Cap was able to wield Mjölnir against Thanos sparked a further question: has Cap been worthy of possessing the power of Thor all along? And did he downplay this ability (and fake only being able to manage a mere wiggle) in Ultron to allow Thor to save face? On Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast (via Collider), directors Joe and Anthony Russo confirmed that — as far as they were concerned — Cap always held the ability to handle Mjölnir, and he simply chose not to do so. From Anthony Russo:
“In our heads he was able to wield it, and he didn’t know that until that moment [in] Ultron when he tried to pick it up. But Cap’s sense of character and his sense of humility, sort of out of deference to Thor’s ego, you know Cap in that moment realizing he can move the hammer decides not to.”
Joe Russo further elaborated on why Cap’s big revelation carried so much impact several movies after the wiggle:
“I think it goes all the way back to Ultron. I think everyone who’s a Marvel fan, in that moment where Cap tested the hammer, felt deep down in their heart that he was worthy and that he could potentially lift that, and boy wouldn’t it be special one day if he did. And obviously if you create drama around the circumstances of him wielding the hammer, and then kicking Thanos’ ass for 30 seconds after that, we felt like we could create a risible moment for the audience.”
Indeed, viewers loved seeing Steve Rogers go to town with Mjölnir, which was one of several major Cap developments. We also witnessed his surprise, time-bending resurrection of the Peggy Carter romance and enjoyed his admission that, yes, he does have America’s Ass. Falcon holds the shield now, but fans will associate Steve Rogers with that last descriptor until the end of time.