In Avengers: Endgame,

Thanos was able to stop and catch Mjolnir and Stormbreaker mid-air as both Captain America and Thor used/called them BEFORE he got the Infinity Stones.

Since this character is clearly not worthy and had no super powers at the time, how were they able to wield Thor's Mjolnir and Stormbreaker, when even the Hulk couldn't do it in The Avengers?

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    Does he ever wield Mjolnir? I think he just blocks blows and deflects it. Stormbreaker is never shown to be given the same "worthiness" enchantment as Mjolnir, so that's likely not a consideration. Thor does say in Infinity War (before actually getting Stormbreaker) that attempting to wield a "Thanos-killing" weapon would destroy any of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but Thanos is considerably more powerful. He was able to touch the Power Stone without any problems, and the combined Guardians were only capable of doing that for a small amount of time. – Anthony Grist Apr 26 '19 at 10:00
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    Hmmm... "stopping" is not the same as "wielding". I remain to be convinced that he wielded Mjolnir. – Paulie_D Apr 26 '19 at 10:36
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    @GamerGypps Nope, she could stop Mjolnir. at no point does she "wield" Mjolnir. – Paulie_D Apr 29 '19 at 15:15
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    Has the strength to stop it from moving through her. Mjolnir continues to try and push forward while she pushes it back. (speculative: the incredible amounts of force this generates are why Mjolnir begins to crack). She is not wielding it. – AAlig May 10 '19 at 14:37
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    @GamerGypps That's the core issue, is that the MCU(Earth-199999) is inconsistent with regards to the comics. Sometimes the continuities align, but the movies have shown several things that disagree with the main marvel universe (Earth-616), so we can't make assumptions about the MCU based solely on the Comic continuity. – AAlig May 10 '19 at 14:50

Note: there is significant disagreement about whether Thanos actually wields Mjolnir and Stormbreaker. If he doesn't, no further explanation is required. For the purposes of this answer, I'll assume that he does and attempt to explain how this could be possible.

The criteria for wielding Mjolnir and Stormbreaker aren't clear.

At the beginning of Thor (2011) Odin places this enchantment on Mjolnir:

Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.

Unfortunately, Odin doesn't provide us with a handy guide of what "worthiness" means to him. Even after Thor becomes worthy at the end of Thor, he isn't exactly a paragon of good behavior. He's "heroic" in that he generally tries to do good, but he can also be arrogant1 and irresponsible2. The same descriptors apply to Tony, who can't wield the hammer. Neither can Rhodes, Barton, or Banner.

Option 1: Thanos is worthy

In an excellent answer to a related question, A J proposes that the worthiness comes from "being willing to sacrifice [oneself] to protect others." This isn't a airtight explanation3. Based on this criteria, Thanos might actually be worthy. At the beginning of Avengers: Endgame, he...

...destroys the stones because they are a temptation. Specifically, they are a temptation to the Avengers to destroy the new way of life that he has inflicted on the universe. The effort of doing this nearly kills him.

His logic is twisted, but his intentions are genuine. He believes he is protecting others from a grave threat, and he is willing to sacrifice himself to achieve this protection. It's possible that Mjolnir finds him worthy based on these criteria.

Option 2: Thanos is powerful

Thanos has been claimed to be "the most powerful being in the universe." It's not clear that this is literally true, but he is a remarkably powerful being able to do things that no one else can. We also know that Odin's magic isn't unbreakable: Hela is able to escape his imprisonment. This is speculation, but there's nothing logically inconsistent about Thanos being able to break or ignore Odin's spell.

1 "Strongest. Avenger." (Thor, Thor: Ragnarok)

2 "You were supposed to protect us. Asgard was supposed to protect us!" (Eitri, Avengers: Infinity War)

3 Just by being part of the Avengers, Barton and Rhodes risk their lives to help others. It's part of the job description. Futhermore, in Endgame, we see that...

...Barton is willing to sacrifice his life to get the Soul Stone.

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  • If the only restriction is "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." that doesn't say that unworthy people can't hold the hammer, it just says that unworthy people don't get any special power from holding it. Is it mentioned in the MCU that unworthy people can't hold/wield the hammer? – Acccumulation Aug 6 '19 at 20:14
  • @Acccumulation It's shown multiple times that unworthy people can't lift the hammer, even though they can hold the handle without any consequences. Physical contact isn't sufficient for the enchantment's definition of "hold" I guess. – Anthony Grist Aug 8 '19 at 13:00

Thanos never wields Mjolnir during Endgame.

What happens is Captain America takes a swing with Mjolnir at Thanos, Thanos grabs Captain America's hand (which is holding Mjolnir), and punches Captain America hard enough to knock him down. At this point, Mjolnir flies off to the side out of reach.

At no point does Thanos pick up/hold/carry/use Mjolnir in any way.

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Thanos does not wield Mjolnir, and Stormbreaker has no such requirement

Thanos does not wield Mjolnir, he blocks it, deflects it, and battles against it but never picks it up and uses it. Therefore worthiness doesn't come into play here.

And Stormbreaker wasn't given any enchantments about worthiness, anyone who is strong enough to wield it can. Not even Mjolnir had any enchantments for worthiness until Thor's first movie when Odin placed it:

Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.

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Yes, he is worthy, because looking at the science of Mjolnir, you have to be worthy to hold it in way, shape, or form. Remember how in Age of Ultrone, Tony couldn’t lift Mjolnir with his Iron Man hand.

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    This contradicts the other answers, which state that Thanos never wielded Mjolnir. – F1Krazy Dec 31 '19 at 22:36

Stormbreaker may not have the worthiness requirement, but I myself still think that Thanos was worthy. He genuinely believed that hat he was doing was the right thing to do. He was willing to sacrifice everything he loved (Gamora) and himself (the snap) in order to save half of the universe. He had a plan to save trillions, and he acted on it. He never wanted the stones for power, so after the job was done he destroyed them. These seem like actions that would prove oneself worthy of wielding the power of Thor.

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  • Killing half of the universe makes one worthy? Well TIL... – TheLethalCarrot Jan 2 at 13:52

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