Magneto: Who is the Master of Magnetism?

Magneto fights for Mutantkind

Spoilers for the X-Men movies, particularly X-Men: First Class

Magneto: “I have been known by many names. Max Eisenhardt. Erik Lensherr. Magnus. Magneto. Each name marks its own sin, and one day I will answer for those offenses. But not today. Only my actions…what I do in the name of all mutants…hold any real meaning.”

Magneto #1

A man floats down from the sky, surveying the crowd before him. He sees people that have been ostracized, some feared for their monstrous appearances, some hated for their strange, miraculous powers. He sees men and women too scared to venture where normal people may see them and children with haunted eyes, forced to grow up far too soon by the world’s cruelty.

He sees his faithful Acolytes, fury etched on their faces by the pain the crowd has suffered, eager for justice to be served. He sees all of this and once more is reminded of his past, of the furnaces and the camps. And as he begins to speak, Magneto swears to his mutant brethren, “Never again.”

From Auschwitz to Genosha: Magneto’s Backstory

Callisto: If you’re so proud of being a mutant, where’s your mark?
Magneto: I have been marked once, my dear, and let me assure you, [pulls back his sleeve to reveal the serial number tattooed on his arm] no needle shall ever touch my skin again

X-men: The Last Stand

Magneto debuted in The X-Men #1 in 1963. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Originally written as a madman who wanted to conquer the world, he would soon become a nuanced freedom fighter and terrorist.

Born Max Eisenhardt, the boy who would become Magneto had a simple life until Germany launched an invasion of Poland. As a Jew, Max and his family were be sent to a concentration camp where his parents were killed and he was forced to work as a sonderkommando.

Max was eventually freed, manifesting his powers in the process. Lacking control of his powers, he was captured and sent to Auschwitz where he met his eventual wife, Magda, who he later escaped with during the Birkenau Revolt.

Adopting the alias of Magnus, Max settled down with Magda in Ukraine, eventually having a daughter named Anya. However, Anya was burned alive by the KGB when Magneto’s powers were revealed. He slaughtered everyone in town to avenge her, leading Magda to flee in fear of his power and rage.

Desperate to distance himself from the horrors he had seen, Magnus gave himself a new name, Erik Lehnsherr, and traveled the world learning all that he could with a particular focus on his powers of electromagnetism. During his travels, he met his greatest friend and enemy, Charles Xavier.

They discussed several things, most importantly the mutant phenomenon. Charles, ever the idealist, thought that humans and Mutants could coexist, but Erik feared that mutants would be made to suffer the same horrors as the Jews. They parted ways as friends, but would next meet as enemies.

The Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants: Magneto’s History

Magneto: There is a chasm between you and I, Charles. A gap that cannot be crossed. With each passing day, I fear it never will be.”

Powers of X #2

Having seen humanity’s hatred for mutants, Erik vowed to protect mutants by any means necessary. Gathering several like-minded Mutants, he created the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in an attempt to conquer the world. He and his Brotherhood would wind up fighting Charles’ own group, The X-Men.

Though never managing to defeat them for long, Magneto still fought for Mutantkind, even regaining his youthful strength when the High Evolutionary (a mad scientist and enemy of Thor) regressed him back to about 30 something).

Magneto would eventually join the X-Men after wounding Shadowcat, a fellow Jewish mutant, and realizing how far he’d fallen. Magneto became a hero before backsliding into villainy, if somewhat mellower about it. Since then, his morality has been like a revolving door. He is sometimes good and sometimes evil, but always does what he thinks will help Mutantkind.

Magneto would eventually be given the island nation of Genosha by the U.N., which he turned into a sanctuary for Mutants. While attempting to incite the population into war with the humans, he had his powers telepathically severed, weakening him severely.

This proved a perfect opportunity for Cassandra Nova (Professor X’s evil twin sister) to unleash a horde of Sentinels to commit mutant genocide, destroying Genosha, and seemingly killing Magneto, who was later revealed to have survived.

Ferocious Ferrokinetic: Magneto’s Powers and Personality

Apocalypse: Traitors! You dare defy your master?!
Magneto:I call no man master! Especially one who would slaughter the innocent along with the guilty!

X-Men: The Animated Series

True to his moniker, Magneto has control over the forces of electromagnetism. He can manipulate metal with a thought, has a limited amount of telepathic abilities, and has studied multiple fields of science, which allows him to use his powers in rather unconventional ways. (Or just lets the writers do whatever they want and justify it as “magnets. How do they even work?“)

Using his powers at their full potential drive Magneto mad, so if he wants to remain sane and good, he has to dial back his powers. This is why he’s able to fight a full team of X-Men evenly, but needs their help to stop threats as a hero.

Perhaps his greatest feats of strength are pulling Professor X’s mansion out of the ground, trapping Red Skull underground and driving him (even more) insane, and using his powers to literally tear the Adamantium from Wolverine’s bones.

Having suffered the horrors of the Holocaust, Magneto will do anything to keep them from happening to mutants. While some might point out that Magneto’s ‘mutants first’ policy is similar to the Third Reich’s ‘Aryans first’ policy, Magneto justifies it by saying that he only does what he does to protect mutants and has limits to what he will do, such as refusing to harm children or those he finds ‘innocent.’

Magneto’s ideas of defending mutants are often compared to Malcolm X’s “defense by any means” policy, while conversely, Professor X’s dreams of harmony are often compared to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Actors Who Portrayed Magneto

John Stephenson – Fantastic Four (1978)
Michael Rye – Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
Earl Boen – Pryde of The X-Men
David Hemblen – X-Men (1992)
Christopher Judge – X-Men: Evolution
Tom Kane – Wolverine and The X-Men
Maurice LeMarche – The Super Hero Squad Show
Ron Hadler- Iron Man: Armored Adventures
Neil Kaplan – Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers
Sir Ian McKellen – X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Days of Future Past
Michael Fassbender – X-Men First Class, X-Men Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix

Didya get all that?

While he has suffered so much already, Magneto will always be there to protect mutantkind.

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