Even after he realizes he doesn’t need Mjolnir in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor still goes after a new weapon in Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s why.
One of the biggest moments of Thor: Ragnarok is Thor realizing he doesn’t need Mjolnir to fight against his sister Hela, but in Avengers: Infinity War he immediately sets out to find create Stormbreaker in order to fight Thanos. This might seem inconsistent with the lesson he learned earlier, but Thor’s arc in Infinity War is actually the next step in the path Ragnarok set out for his character, and there’s more to Stormbreaker than Thor simply needing a weapon that packs a punch.
Going back to the first phase of the MCU, much like Tony Stark, Thor also started off as a brash and arrogant character. While Tony had to confront the damage his weapons caused first hand, Thor was banished to Earth by his father, Odin, for invading Jotunheim. He’s then forced to reckon with his arrogance and impulsiveness, and only after sacrificing himself to save a human town does he prove himself worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Since then, the hammer has been a symbol of his value as a person, as a superhero, and of his capability of leading Asgard in his father’s place.
When Mjolnir is destroyed by Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, this is not just a blow to Thor’s strength and powers, but also the symbolic destruction of Thor’s right to be Odin’s heir and a man worthy of the throne. However, despite not having Mjolnir anymore, Thor still fights his way out of Sakaar in order to go back and save Asgard from Hela’s reign. Without realizing, he already had become the man his father always wanted him to be: a true hero. His vision of Odin at the end of Ragnarok simply put into words what was already happening to his character. It’s significant that is not Thor who kills Hela. Instead, he comes up with a plan to defeat her at a great cost, knowing it is the only way to save people.
In the end, Mjolnir’s destruction revealed Thor’s growth as a character, but it also represents his first steps into a journey of self-discovery that would continue in Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. During the last scene of Ragnarok, Thor becomes the leader of the remaining Asgardians. However, Infinity War completely strips him of that role as Thanos destroys his ship and kills Loki and the others. Confronted by utter defeat and immense loss, Thor falls back to what he knows: relying on his physical strength and powers. That’s why he goes get a new weapon because it’s the only thing that he can control. Focusing on revenge was a way to cope with his grief. Like in Ragnarok, it was just not a question of power levels, but Thor’s emotional state.
Once he accepts his failures and deals with his grief in Avengers: Endgame, Thor finally comes to terms with who he really is and what he wants. Not only does he accept and celebrate it when Captain America wields Mjolnir, but he also steps down and gives the throne to Valkyrie, recognizing she’s a better leader. At last, Thor becomes his own character, not defined by his father’s expectations or his role as heir of the Asgardian throne. Thor: Ragnarok was the start of this journey but Infinity War and Endgame finished his character arc, opening up endless possibilities for Thor moving forward.