Thor: The Dark World opens in theatres, bringing with it Chris Hemsworth as the sledgehammer wielding superhero with his rippling muscles, crazy mythology and Dark Elves.
The Marvel comic series borrowed the character from Norse mythology, coopting the God Of Thunder’s most famous weapon, the Mjölnir. In myth the name translates to “that which smashes,” and refers to his hammer, a fearsome club capable of leveling mountains, causing lightning flashes and boomeranging back when he throws it.
“The power within Mjölnir,” he says, “doth rage like the winter storms bursting upon the shore in furious assault!”
According to Nordic legend the mallet was forged by dwarven brothers Sindri and Brokkr but Marvel embroidered the lore, adding to the story the fictional Asgardian metal uru as the main component of the basher and an inscription that reads, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
The image of Thor flying through the air, propelled by Mjölnir, is the iconic picture from the comics and movies, but not from mythology.
According to legend Thor’s preferred mode of transport was a chariot drawn by two 1700-pound warrior goats named Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder. But they didn’t just provide transport, they also frequently provided dinner as well—literally.
After a long day of battle a tired Thor would be too tired to hunt for food, so he’d kill and eat the goats. When he was done, he’d carefully wrap the bones in their pelts, wave Mjölnir over the bloody mess, and before you could say “By the Hammer of Thor!” the goats would come back to life, ready for more adventures.
In the comics Thor has unlimited power when it comes to controlling the mighty hammer, unlike in mythology where he often used a magical belt called a Megingjörð and iron gloves to give him the strength to employ Mjölnir to its full effect.
The hammer has also had an influence outside of the movies, mythology and comics. The sci fi show Stargate SG-1 used the Mjölnir as a plot device, The Thor’s Hammer Organization are the bad guys of the Silent Storm video game series and the dramatic lyrics “And out of the forge of dwarfs, To hold in your hand now, And for evermore, I give you the Hammer of Thor,” came from the Viking folk rock band Týr.