Magneto (comics)

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For the Amalgam Comics character, see Magneto (Amalgam Comics). For the character from Strange Tales, see Magneto (Atlas Comics).
Magneto
Magneto on the cover of X-Men (vol. 2) #1.
Pencils by Jim Lee and inks by Scott Williams.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The X-Men #1 (September 1963)
Created by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter ego Max Eisenhardt[1]
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
Genoshan Excalibur
X-Men
New Mutants
The Twelve
Hellfire Club
Acolytes
Savage Land Mutates
Notable aliases Magnus,[2] Erik Lehnsherr,[3] White King[4] (later Grey King[5]) of the Hellfire Club, Michael Xavier,[6] Erik the Red,[7] White Pilgrim, The Creator
Abilities
  • Magnetism manipulation
  • Ability to manipulate electromagnetic fields
  • Magnetic force fields
  • Magnetic flight
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Skilled leader and strategist
  • Helmet grants immunity to telepathic attacks

Magneto is a fictional character that first appeared in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Magneto is the X-Men's first and most famous adversary. The character makes frequent appearances in books, movies, television shows, and video games related to the X-Men.

Magneto is a mutant, born with the ability to control magnetism, which gives him power over metal objects. In a world where anti-mutant bigotry is fierce and widespread, Magneto believes mutants must dominate humans if they are to survive as a race, and this typically makes him a villain and foe to the X-Men.

Publication history[edit]

Magneto's first appearance in X-Men #1 (September 1963).
Written by Stan Lee & art by Jack Kirby.

The character of Magneto first appeared in American comic books. He was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby as the first adversary for their new fictional team of superheroes, the X-Men. His first appearance was in The X-Men #1, published in 1963 by Marvel Comics. Magneto was an instant success with readers, and has been a frequent recurring character in the various X-Men comic books ever since. Magneto also appears occasionally in other comic books published by Marvel Comics, such as the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. His first solo title was a one-shot special, Magneto: The Twisting of a Soul #0 (September 1993). He has never had an ongoing series of his own. A trade paperback novel detailing Magneto's childhood, X-Men: Magneto Testament, was released in September 2008.

Magneto's first television appearance was in an episode of the 1978 animated series The New Fantastic Four. After this, he appeared a couple of times in Spider-Man cartoons. In 1989, he finally appeared alongside the X-Men in a half-hour pilot episode, X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. He has been a recurring character in all three X-Men animated series (X-Men, X-Men: Evolution, and Wolverine and the X-Men).

Magneto's first movie appearance was in X-Men (2000), where he was played by Ian McKellen. A young version of Magneto appears in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, where he is played by Michael Fassbender.

Character overview[edit]

The character of Magneto has appeared in a wide variety of media for over 50 years under the creative control of uncounted editors and writers. Consequently, the details of his life vary depending on what story one reads. This section attempts to summarize consistent character traits.

In the fictional setting of the X-Men, a minority of humans known as "mutants" are born with extraordinary powers which vary considerably from individual to individual. Magneto's mutant ability is to generate and control magnetic fields. Mutants are feared and hated by most normal humans, and are subjected to discrimination and institutionalized persecution. The struggle against this persecution is the focus of most X-Men fiction and defines Magneto's life.

Personality and beliefs[edit]

Magneto believes that mutants are superior to humans and are the natural progression of human evolution, destined to inherit the Earth at the expense of homo sapiens. In the face of fierce anti-mutant bigotry, he believes that only through the subjugation or extermination of humanity can mutants hope to survive as a race. This makes him the ideological opponent of Charles Xavier, another mutant and the founder of the X-Men, who wants mutants to coexist peacefully and equally with humans.

Magneto is grandiose, fond of great displays of power and spectacular acts of terrorism.

What people often forget, of course, is that Magneto, unlike the lovely Sir Ian McKellen, is a mad old terrorist twat. No matter how he justifies his stupid, brutal behaviour, or how anyone else tries to justify it, in the end he's just an old bastard with daft, old ideas based on violence and coercion. I really wanted to make that clear [when writing New X-Men].

—writer Grant Morrison on Magneto (2004)[8]

In the earlier X-Men books, Magneto was completely callous towards normal humans. In X-Men #4 (volume 1, 1964), he is willing to destroy the small fictional nation of Santo Marco with a nuclear weapon just to spite the X-Men. This bloodthirstiness alienates Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, his own children. Writer Chris Claremont softened Magneto's character somewhat in later books. In Uncanny X-Men #150 (1981), Magneto realizes he has become as monstrous as the Nazis who once persecuted him. In stories where Magneto succeeds in establishing a mutant nation, such as House of M, he relegates humans to second-class status but still accords them some rights and protection. Conversely, the Ultimate Marvel line of books depict an especially vicious Magneto.

In all portrayals, Magneto is aggressive, domineering, and vindictive. He has a dysfunctional relationship with his children, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who in most versions of the tale defect to the heroes.

In a 2008 interview, Stan Lee elaborated that he "did not think of Magneto as a bad guy. He just wanted to strike back at the people who were so bigoted and racist... he was trying to defend the mutants, and because society was not treating them fairly he was going to teach society a lesson. He was a danger of course... but I never thought of him as a villain."[9] In the same interview, he also revealed that he originally planned for Magneto to be the brother of his nemesis Professor X.[9] Writer Chris Claremont confirmed that Malcolm X was an inspiration for Magneto's development, as Martin Luther King Jr was for Professor X.[10][11][12][13]

Background[edit]

As a child, Magneto was a victim of persecution. In Uncanny X-Men #150 (1981), written by Chris Claremont, Magneto mentions that he and his family were interned at Auschwitz. Claremont intended that Magneto be a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, and most depictions of Magneto are consistent with this. This of course would mean that Magneto in the 21st century is a rather old man. In the comic books, he has been rejuvenated by various extraordinary means.

In X-Men Unlimited #2 (1993), writer Fabian Nicieza retconned Magneto as a Sinti gypsy in order to befit his marriage to his gypsy wife, Magda.[14] This change was in turn retconned in X-Men #72 (volume 2, 1998) as just an assumed identity, re-establishing Magneto as a Jew.

Family[edit]

In most versions, Magneto's childhood family was killed in the Nazi Holocaust, leaving him an orphan.

Magneto married a gypsy woman named Magda, with whom he fathered two children: Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These two characters first appeared in The X-Men #4 (1964) but were only established as his children in Vision and the Scarlet Witch #4 (1983). Magneto has a dysfunctional relationship with them. In most stories they have abandoned him to side with the heroes. Quicksilver and Magneto appear together in the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past. Their relationship is implied in a throwaway line by Quicksilver[15] but not confirmed.

In Uncanny X-Men #431 (2003), it is established that Polaris, a mutant who has similar powers of magnetism, is also one of Magneto's children. This plot point is respected in most subsequent X-Men fiction.

Real name[edit]

Marvel Comics' editors and writers have given Magneto a number of names in the comic books over the years. The first name Marvel gave Magneto was "Magnus" in Uncanny X-Men #161 (volume 1, 1982). In 1993, Marvel changed his name to "Erik Lehnsherr" (sometimes spelled "Eric").[16][17] This name in turn was retconned as a fabricated identity in X-Men #72 (volume 2, 1998). The 2009 miniseries X-Men: Magneto Testament establishes his true name as "Max Eisendhart". In the movies starring Ian McKellen, the Ultimate Marvel line of books, and the X-Men: Evolution animated series, "Erik Lehnsherr" is Magneto's real name.

Relationship with Charles Xavier[edit]

Charles Xavier is a mutant, a telepath, and is Magneto's classic archenemy. Xavier wants humans and mutants to coexist peacefully and equally. Xavier formed a paramilitary unit known as the X-Men specifically to combat dangerous mutants such as Magneto.

The earliest X-Men books did not allude to any relationship between Magneto and Xavier prior to the latter founding the X-Men. In the 1980s, beginning with Uncanny X-Men #161, writer Chris Claremont developed a deeper relationship between the two. They became old friends who had worked together for the benefit of mutantkind until ideological differences split them apart. In some versions of the tale, such as in X-Men: First Class and Ultimate X-Men, the split also coincides with Xavier being crippled by Magneto's hand.

Depending on the story one reads, their relationship since their split varies from guarded friendship to bitter hatred. In any case, they retain a profound mutual respect.

Mutant nationalism[edit]

A major goal for Magneto in many stories is to establish a separate homeland for mutants, with him as ruler. The first story in which Magneto tries his hand at conquest is in The X-Men #4 (volume 1, 1964) where he conquers the fictional nation of Santo Marco and is overthrown in the same issue by the X-Men. In the X-Men animated series from the 1990s, Magneto takes over the fictional island nation of Genosha and turns it into a mutant homeland to which any mutant is entitled citizenship. This story was retold in the comic books[18][19] as well as in the Wolverine and the X-Men animated series.

The Brotherhood[edit]

Mirroring Charles Xavier, Magneto is a natural leader and founded his own group of like-minded mutants: the Brotherhood of Mutants, who fight for mutant supremacy rather than equality. This group first appears in The X-Men #4 (volume 1, 1964) as "the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants". The Brotherhood also appears in the movies starring Ian McKellen and all the animated series.

Asteroid M[edit]

First appearing in X-Men #5 (1964), Asteroid M is an orbital base that Magneto built out of an asteroid. Asteroid M also appears in the animated series from the 1990s.

Powers and abilities[edit]

Magneto is a mutant with the power to manipulate electromagnetic fields to achieve a wide range of effects.

The primary application of his power is control over magnetism and the manipulation of ferrous and nonferrous metal. While the maximum amount of mass he can manipulate at one time is unknown, he has moved large asteroids several times and effortlessly levitated a 30,000 ton nuclear submarine. His powers extend into the atomic level (insofar as the electromagnetic force is responsible for chemical bonding), allowing him to manipulate chemical structures and rearrange matter, although this is often a strenuous task. He can manipulate a large number of individual objects simultaneously and has assembled complex machinery with his powers. He can also affect non-metallic and non-magnetic objects to a lesser extent and frequently levitates himself and others. He can also generate electromagnetic pulses of great strength and generate and manipulate electromagnetic energy down to photons. He can turn invisible by warping visible light around his body.[20] Another way in which Magneto frequently uses his power is the projection of force-fields which selectively block out matter and energy. These fields are strong enough to withstand the detonation of multiple thermonuclear weapons, hence Magneto is invulnerable to most harm when surrounded by his shield and can survive in deep space thanks to it. He can also channel his powers through his own body to increase his strength and durability far beyond human limits and has a baseline reaction time 15 times as short as that of regular humans. On occasion he has altered the behavior of gravitational fields around him, which has been suggested as evidence of the existence of a unified field which he can manipulate. He has demonstrated the capacity to produce a wormhole and to safely teleport himself and others via the wormhole.[21]

Magneto has been frequently depicted as able to resist all but the strongest or most unexpected of telepathic attacks. A number of explanations have been proposed for his unusually strong resistance to telepathy, among them: (a) technology wired into his helmet (the explanation given in the X-Men film series and several comic plotlines), (b) some physical aspect of his electromagnetic powers that can interfere with telepathy (he once used the Earth's magnetic field to dampen the powers of all telepaths within his reach), (c) latent telepathic powers of his own or (d) sheer force of will (cf. X-Men Vol. 2 #2). The theme of latent telepathic powers has been explored in a number of stories, among them the Secret Wars limited series. In some of his earliest appearances, Magneto was depicted as capable of engaging in astral projection. He has also, on rare occasions, been shown reading other's dreams, issuing telepathic commands, and probing the minds of others.[22] He has demonstrated the ability to shield his mind, while in intense meditation, so completely that even Emma Frost was not able to read his thoughts, despite being directly in front of him and actively attempting to do so.[23]

In addition to his powers, Magneto has many other skills. He is a genius with competence in various fields of advanced science, especially in genetic manipulation, particle physics, engineering, and other fields of technology. He has engineered advanced weaponry, space stations, superpowered humanoid lifeforms, devices that generate volcanoes and earthquakes, devices that block telepathy, and devices that can nullify all mutant powers except for his own. He has reconstructed computerized devices from memory. He is fluent in many human languages and once single-handedly deciphered the unknown language of a lost civilization.[24] He possesses extraordinary skill in "reading" the microexpressions on others' faces and sensing what they are thinking and feeling, whether they are lying, fearful, etc. a skill which he refers to as "taking your enemy's measure."[25] He also is a master strategist and tactician with extensive combat experience, and has often been successful in single-handed combat against entire groups of superhuman adversaries. He also has some military training in hand-to-hand combat and has been shown to be effective with his fists, but he prefers to use his powers when in combat situations.

Reception[edit]

Magneto was ranked number 1 by IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Villains list,[26] was listed number 17 in Wizard's Top 100 Greatest Villains Ever list,[27] and was ranked as the 9th Greatest Comic Book Character Ever in Wizard's list of the 200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time, the second highest villain on that list.[28]

Collected editions[edit]

Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
Magneto: Rogue Nation X-Men: The Magneto War #1; Uncanny X-Men #366-367; X-Men Vol. 2 #85-87; Magneto Rex #1-3 April 2002 978-0785108344
X-Men: Magneto Testament X-Men: Magneto Testament #1-5 October 2009 978-0785126409
X-Men: First Class: Class Portraits Magneto Vol. 2 #1, Cyclops Vol. 2 #1, Iceman and Angel #1, & Marvel Girl #1 May 2011 978-0785155591
Magneto: Not a Hero Magneto: Not a Hero #1-4 May 2012 978-0785158608
Magneto Vol. 1: Infamous Magneto Vol. 3 #1-6 September 2014 978-0785189879

Other versions[edit]

In other media[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ X-Men: Magneto Testament #1
  2. ^ Uncanny X-Men #161, September 1981
  3. ^ X-Men vol. 2 #72
  4. ^ New Mutants #51 (May 1987)
  5. ^ New Mutants #75 (May 1989)
  6. ^ New Mutants #35-75
  7. ^ Uncanny X-Men #350
  8. ^ http://www.popimage.com/content/grant2004.html
  9. ^ a b Marvel Spotlight: Uncanny X-Men 500 Issues Celebration, p. 5-7
  10. ^ Young, Paul. "Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains". 
  11. ^ Hanks, Henry. "The secret to 'X-Men's' success". 
  12. ^ Darowski, Joseph J. The Ages of the X-Men:Essays on the Children of the Atom in Changing Times. p. 71. 
  13. ^ DeCandido, Keith R.A., Haber, Karen, Wein, Len (April 1, 2006). The Unauthorized X-Men: SF and Comic Writers on Mutants, Prejudice, and Adamantium. Benbella Books. p. 23. ISBN 1-932100-74-1. 
  14. ^ http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Magneto.html
  15. ^ "They say you can manipulate metal. My mom used to know a guy who could do that."
  16. ^ X-Men Unlimited #2 (1993)
  17. ^ Uncanny X-Men #304 (volume 1, 1993)
  18. ^ Magneto Rex
  19. ^ X-Men #87 (volume 2, 1999)
  20. ^ Vision and the Scarlet Witch #4 (February 1983)
  21. ^ Excalibur v.3, #8 (February 2005)
  22. ^ The X-Men, v.1, #5-7 (May–September 1964), New Mutants Vol. 1 #38 (1986), X-Men vs. Avengers miniseries (1987), Marvel Fanfare #33 (1987)
  23. ^ Uncanny X-Men #521
  24. ^ Defenders #15 (September 1974)
  25. ^ Avengers Academy #6 (January 2011)
  26. ^ IGN.com, Top 100 Comic Book Villains, "Magneto is Number 1"
  27. ^ Wizard, #177, July 2006
  28. ^ Wizarduniverse.com, "The 200 Greatest Comic Characters of All Time", Numbers 20 Through 1, 2008-05-23[dead link]

External links[edit]