Who is Magneto? A Look at Marvel’s Most Infamous Mutant..


‘Sup, Nerds! Leviathen here, back from a short hiatus.  I know, I know, I’ve missed you too. But enough of that for now, I’ve got a lot to tell you folks about a character I’m very fond of, both for his complexity as a character, and his level of power as a super human. I’m of course talking about the master of magnetism, Magneto.

Max Eisenhardt was born in the late 1920’s to a middle class Jewish family in Germany. After discrimination and hardship living under the rise of the 3rd Reich, the Eisenhardts fled to Poland. When Germany invaded, they were captured and moved to the Warsaw ghetto, and after a failed escape attempt Max’s parents and sister were executed. Max was sent to Auschwitz, where he was forced to work as a Sonderkommando. While there, Max was reunited with a Roma girl named Magda, a childhood love. They escaped during the revolt of 1944, and fled to the Ukraine.  Max took the name “Magnus”, and lived with Magda in relative peace for a time, even having a little girl named Anya. It was when an angry mob set fire to his home with Anya still inside that Magnus’s powers manifested beyond his control, killing the mob and destroying part of the city. Fearful of his power, Magda left him. Wanted by the authorities, Magnus took the cover identity of “Erik Lensherr, the Sinte gypsy” and made passage to Israel.

Here is where the movies differ from the comics. The X-Men movies pull most of their inspiration from the Ultimate Marvel imprint, which has a different course of events from the main continuity, or the “Earth-616” universe. In Earth-616, Erik meets and befriends a young Charles Xavier while they were both working at a clinic in Israel. While they held lengthy debates regarding humanity and the rise of mutants, neither of them were aware of the others’ abilities at the time. They parted ways before Xavier could create his school.

In the Ultimate Universe, Charles was the first mutant that Erik ever came in contact with, and the same was true for Charles. They became best friends. They traveled the world together, finding others of their kind and began building the Savage Land, what was to be a sanctuary and the first mutant nation. Erik was even a critical asset in the creation of Cerebro, the machine that allows Xavier to extend the reach of his power to the entire globe. It was a difference in purpose and ideals that would lead to a violent schism between the two friends.

Xavier has always believe that mutants and humans, through compromise, education and good will, could coexist peacefully. Erik’s experience surviving Nazi Germany and Auschwitz would shape his outlook on the situations his species would endure. Determined to prevent such crimes from ever being committed against Mutantkind, Erik would come to believe that “Homo Superior” was destined to become the dominant life form on Earth.

This Is How You Break Down a Firearm!

Magneto’s mutant power is the ability to sense and manipulate electromagnetic fields. The most common use of his power is magnetism and the manipulation of metal. His level of control is phenomenal, in both force (he has lifted a 30k ton nuclear sub and diverted the paths of asteroids) and precision (he rearranged the circuitry, and thus the programing of an entire fleet of Sentinels simultaneously). Magneto can manipulate magnetic fields to generate impenetrable force-fields, levitate himself and others, communicate via radio signals, alter the behavior of gravitational fields, create wormholes, and even divert the photons in light to make himself appear invisible.

Many believe, Xavier included, that Erik is also a latent telepath. He has shown unusual resistance to all but the most powerful telepathic attacks, and has proven able to block his thoughts from Xavier himself. In addition to his p0wers, Magneto is also a genius. He has engineered advanced technology and has shown an intuitive understanding of particle physics, genetics, and other advanced sciences. He is fluent in many human and alien languages, and even solely deciphered the dead language of a lost civilization.

Don’t F With This Mutant!

In spite of his crimes against humanity, Magneto hasn’t always been a force of evil in the Marvel Universe. He has aided the X-Men on several occasions, and even led them for a time at the personal request of Xavier. While his methods may be brutal, Magneto fights to protect mutants all over the planet, and on many occasions his actions could be considered justified, as in the case when the Savage Land was attacked by Sentinels on order of the USA.  This savage act caused the death of hundreds of mutants, many of which were children. He took control of these Sentinels and reprogrammed them to hunt humans, and then sent them to attack Washington, D.C.

I’ve always thought Magneto was a good nemesis for the X-men mostly due to the presence of Piotr and Logan. From the time they both joined the X-men in the late 70’s, Colossus and Wolverine could arguably be consider the the strongest asset to the team. Colossus is a 100-toner, making him the strongest mutant on the planet. Wolverine…well…he IS the best at what he does (Editors Note: the author confesses to possessing a life-long fanboy/man crush on the character of Wolverine and chooses to avoid discussing the character at length due to his lack of objectivity in regards to Wolverine’s awesomeness) Their individual strengths aside, they have an intuitive chemistry and strong bond both on and off the battlefield, making them natural allies in combat. In spite of these strengths, they both share the same weakness: they are less than useless against Magneto!

Actor Michael Fassbender Portraying the Young Magneto in ‘X-Men: First Class’

In the X-men Film series, Erik Lensherr was portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen. While I thought he might have been too old and frail to play the physically imposing Magneto, I nonetheless loved McKellen’s work. Michael Fassbender will be playing the younger Magneto in the upcoming ‘X-Men: First Class (coming 6/3/11). I liked Fassbender when I first saw him in the HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers” and I loved him in 300 and Inglorious Basterds, so I’m excited to see what he does with the character. I can’t make any assumption as to plot development, because of all the Marvel movies made to date, the X-Men series differs the most from the source material.

Many major story points from the comics were either glossed over or completely ignored. Like Juggernaut and Professor X being step brothers, or the fact that Iceman was the second X-Man to ever be recruited by Xavier, but is a teenager in the movies. Hell, Angel was a member of the first class, but he was nothing more than a secondary character in The Last Stand. I could go on, but I won’t. Because in spite of these issues, they still tell a great story and the characters are as strong and compelling as their comic book counterparts. I love these movies, and will continue to watch them as they come out. You’ve been wondering why your compass won’t work…


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EB Original by Leviathen


Tags : fanboysgeeksMagnetoSuper VillainX-Men First Class
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.