There's been a surprising amount of speculation as to whether Thanos could lift Mjolnir, whether with the help of the Infinity Gauntlet or because  the Mad Titan's twisted, but ultimately noble, moral code makes him somehow worthy. However, the digital release this week of of Avengers: Endgame may actually provide an answer.

A redditor pointed out an easy-to-miss detail from Endgame's climactic battle. Wielding Thor's enchanted hammer, brought back through time by the thunder god, Captain America lands plenty of blows on Thanos. He even uses the weapon to repeatedly summon lightning. There comes a moment, however, when the Mad Titan stops one of Cap's swings, and then smacks Mjolnir out of Steve Rogers' hand. That of course leads to Thanos nearly killing the determined Avenger.

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To stop Cap's swing, Thanos doesn't directly grab the hammer, though. He instead grips Steve's wrist. That led fans to wonder whether Thanos knew he wasn't worthy of lifting Mjolnir. So rather than go for the hammer, he went for its wielder. Sure, Thanos lifts Stormbreaker, but the ax doesn't have Odin's enchantment on it, so theoretically, anyone strong enough could lift it.

The follow-up question, then, is how would Thanos know about Mjolnir's enchantment? This version of the Mad Titan, from 2014, never had any previous encounter with Thor. Perhaps Loki told him about it when he was recruited by Thanos before the events of 2012's The Avengers. Or maybe Thanos didn't know at all, and he was operating with a simpler combat tactic. It's not uncommon for fighters to aim for their opponent's hands or wrists to make them drop their weapons, or to just stop their strikes.

To many, the answer to the overarching question is blindingly obvious: No, Thanos could not lift Mjolnir. He's a homicidal maniac who snuffs out half of all life in the universe because he thinks it's his destiny to do so. Thanos is vile and self-obsessed, with the unwavering conviction and power to back up his evil deeds. He might not see his actions as such, but they are evil. If anything, this little snippet from Endgame further proves that point. If Thanos knew about the hammer's enchantment, and he actively avoided grabbing it, then he knew he was unworthy.

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But you could still turn this speculation around a bit. Although we know him to be malicious, Thanos believes himself noble and just in his cause. By all accounts, he considers himself the hero of this story; he likely views himself as "worthy." Maybe not of specifically wielding a magic hammer he's never seen before, but worthy of achieving his goals and living happily, knowing he's made a difference. By that logic, maybe, just maybe, Thanos could lift Mjolnir. He never tries during any of his appearances, but it remains a decently valid argument.

That's a big maybe, however. Mjolnir's enchantment judges its potential wielder on its own; how the wielder views himself or herself doesn't exactly matter. Regardless of how much Thanos tries to justify his actions, by Mjolnir's account, he's still probably unworthy. It stands to reason Thanos would not be joining the short list of candidates to wield that hammer.

Vision wielded Mjolnir because he had only just been "born," so he still had the air of innocence about him. Hela wielded the hammer long before Odin enchanted it. She didn't hold it when she returned in Thor: Ragnarok, rather she held it back from returning to the thunder god. Before it could fly back to his hand, obviously, she destroyed it.

As to why Cap could wield Mjolnir in Endgame when he couldn't budge it in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron ... Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have offered their own, sometimes conflicting, explanations. Fans have provided their own theories, ranging from his earlier guilt about withholding his knowledge that Bucky Barnes killed Tony Stark's parents to a lack of desire to wield that power as, essentially, a party trick (and maybe humiliate Thor in the process).

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos. The film is available now on Digital HD, and will be released Aug. 13 on Blu-ray and 4K UHD.

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