One of the most curious aspects of Avengers: Infinity War was that Groot lifts Thor’s Stormbreaker axe, even though it was believed that characters need to be worthy in order to wield such a weapon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Going back to Chris Hemsworth’s very first appearance as the Asgardian god in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, being considered worthy enough to wield Mjolnir was an integral part of his journey to become a superhero. Unfortunately, his trusty hammer was shattered to pieces in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Throughout the film, it was apparent that Mjolnir merely channeled (and perhaps augmented) Thor’s godlike powers. But in Infinity War, it was clear that Thor couldn’t rely on his inherent abilities, that he needed a new weapon in order to defeat an Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Thanos. And so, that’s what he did. He traveled to Nidavellir and forged Stormbreaker, a weapon not only strong enough to kill Thanos but counter the Infinity Gauntlet and even summon the Bifrost. However, the weapon wasn’t ready until Groot completed it by dismembering himself – and, in doing so, he became the first person to lift Stormbreaker. The question is, how?
During a Vudu Viewing Party for Avengers: Infinity War, co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo revealed a key difference between Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and his new ax Stormbreaker: the latter doesn’t require worthiness. That’s why Groot was able to lift the ax, not because he was worthy but because he didn’t need to be. It’s something fans presumed, but it’s always great to get official confirmation from the creative team behind the film.
It appears that it’s not as much about worthiness as it is about the strength and willpower to wield such a weapon. As viewers may recall, Groot was in intense pain when he merged the two parts of Stormbreaker together using an extension of his arm, something that Thor briefly warned of while aboard the Guardians’ ship. Sure, he chopping off one’s arm isn’t the easiest thing to do, but simply touching the weapon clearly started to burn Groot. Of course, it had just been forged, so there’s that, but while anyone can technically lift Stormbreaker, that doesn’t mean they have the strength to carry such a weapon for a long period of time, let alone use it in battle like Thor.
It would be interesting, however, if fans got to see a recreation of the Mjolnir scene from the beginning of Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron at some point in Avengers 4, in which all of the Avengers tried lifting Thor’s hammer, but Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers was the only person who could even nudge the weapon at all. While some fans have theorized that Steve was merely acting, Thor was convinced that no one but him was worthy enough to wield Mjolnir. But Stormbreaker is another thing entirely. Steve is incredibly strong and his willpower is almost unmatched, so if anyone other than Thor could theoretically use Stormbreaker, it’s Steve Rogers.