Thor’s power originates within Thor. He’s the God of Thunder, not the Dude Who Carries Thunder-God-Power-Hammer.
That said, magic is a funny thing, as are curses. In Thor’s case, his own powers are “removed” until he can pick up the hammer, and he can’t pick up the hammer until… Well, spoilers, you know…
Anyway, as for Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer’s name) itself, the powers are basically agreed to be the following:
- It’s a very good hammer, good at hammering just about anything, really really hard (basically as hard as Thor wants it to hit).
- When thrown, it will unerringly return to Thor’s hand.
- When Thor aims it, it doesn’t miss.
Between the movie and the comics, there are a few other powers hinted at, though I would submit that the majority of these (like teleportation) are actually particular manifestations of one or more of the above powers combined with Thor’s own (say, unerringly aiming the hammer at a point halfway across the galaxy, then throwing it so hard it travels there instantaneously).
In a nutshell, it’s a really big(*) hammer, that allows someone with god-level powers to actually do even more damage when he hits something – or, conversely, a lot LESS, based on his desires.
When you think about it, it’d be pretty ridiculous for a god to carry around weapons that didn’t make him even more powerful.
(* It also has, according to Norse mythology, the ability to shrink to a pocketable size when not in use)
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