Portrayed by Ian McKellen
|Affiliations:||Brotherhood of Mutants|
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One of the most powerful mutants on the planet, Magneto has been an antagonist of the X-Men for many years. Along with his Brotherhood, he seeks the supremacy of the mutant race over the mass of homo sapiens humanity.
Name: Erik Lehnsherr
Affiliation: Brotherhood of Mutants
First appearance: X-Men
Erik Lehnsherr was born in 1937 in Gdansk, Poland to a working-class Jewish family. In 1944, his family was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where all but Erik perished. It was at this time Erik first manifested his powers, as he was separated from his parents, but the subsequent deprivation, lack of nutrition and poor treatment caused his powers to go into remission, not fully emerging again until after the war ended and he was rescued. As a young man, Lehnsherr travelled Europe hunting down Nazi war criminals and eventually met Charles Xavier. The two forged a strong friendship over mutual interests such as science and social politics and worked together in Erik’s mission to track down those who had killed his family.
In the 1970s, Erik returned to Europe to find his roots, marrying a Romani woman, Magda. However, in 1975 during a riot, Erik's mutant powers of magnetism fully emerged and, thinking his wife was dead, he lashed out, killing many of the rioters. Horrified by what her husband had become, the pregnant Magda fled to her Rom clan, where Erik could not find her. Seeking comfort in his history with Charles, Erik suggested they investigate claims of a Nazi safehouse in Switzerland, only to discover it was in fact a secret research laboratory, trying to infuse humans with mutant powers. In the ensuing melee, Charles was shot and paralysed from the waist down. Erik, enraged by the injury to his best friend, was on the point of destroying the base and killing everyone within it, before Charles appealed to the “better man” he saw inside his old friend and bringing to his mind the scene with Magda only a year before. Reluctantly, Erik stood down and let the Nazis escape in favour of obtaining medical treatment for his friend and the experimental subjects.
Feeling responsible for his friend’s injury, Erik then returned to America to assist Charles with the founding of his school. Charles and Erik searched out young mutants and trained them in the use of their abilities, with the goal of both protecting them and integrating mutants into society. He also discovered he was a father – Magda had given birth to twins after she had left him. His estranged wife made contact with him in 1988, frantic due to the fact that the twins were showing strange powers. They visited the school on occasion, and Erik took an active interest in them and their education. He also began a relationship with a local woman, which resulted in the birth of a daughter, Lorna, in 1993.
Over time, however, Erik became disillusioned with Charles' aims, instead espousing a philosophy of mutant superiority over humanity. In 1994, an incident involving anti-mutant protesters at the school became the breaking point of their friendship. Erik left the school with several like-minded students, intent on protecting "his people" from another Holocaust, by any means necessary. Wanda, upon hearing of this, began to withdraw from him, but Pietro made a different choice. Lorna, only a toddler, remained with her human mother.
Erik reappeared in 2002, having taken the guise of Magneto, and having gathered other mutants to his side to form the Brotherhood of Mutants. One of their first overt terrorist acts was the kidnapping and (accidental) murder of Senator Robert Kelly, followed by an attempt to turn the world’s leaders into mutants during a summit on Liberty Island, an attempt which was foiled by the X-Men.
After the Liberty Island incident, Magneto was imprisoned without trial in a secret government facility, overseen by William Stryker - Phase 1, who used sadistic interrogation methods to force Erik to divulge what secrets he knew about Charles Xavier and his X-Men. In 2003, freed from prison by Mystique, Magneto actually assisted the X-Men in foiling Stryker's plans to use Charles to destroy mutantkind – but only for his own ends. With Mystique’s help, he manipulated the mind-controlled Charles into using Stryker’s copy of Cerebro to “kill all the humans” in what would become known as The Great Headache. Lorna manifested at this time, and in doing so, accidentally killed her mother. Erik, having escaped again with Mystique and one of Charles’ students, John Allerdyce, took her into his charge once he found this out. He raised her himself, until she entered college in 2010.
Magneto's stated goal is the survival of the mutant race, and he espouses outright domination over homo sapiens as the preferred route to this survival. His philosophies reflect his ideals, and have been spread online as The Lehnsherr Manifesto, and used both as inspiration by like-minded mutants and as fuel for growing anti-mutant sentiment in groups such as the Friends of Humanity.
In 2015, following the departure of Lorna Dane from his custody due to her concern about the Brotherhood, Magneto engineered a "reunion" of sorts by having his people abduct Alex Summers and his family as bait for Lorna to come back to him. She did, but not alone, and between Lorna, X-Factor, an X-Men team and Wanda Maximoff, the abductees were rescued and Magneto taught a lesson in politeness and not kidnapping people to talk to your children.
He made a covert appearance at the wedding of his daughter Lorna to Alex Summers in October 2017, using a fake hostage threat to secure his safe passage. The Brotherhood appeared again in April and June of 2018, however Magneto was strangely absent and Mystique was the obvious leader. There have been no sightings of him since, leading to speculation of a leadership coup in the group he founded.
For several years, Magneto has been quiet, prompting many to wonder if he had retired from his terrorist activities or even possibly died. However, he shocked the world when he re-emerged in order to destroy a DARPA research facility he claimed were developing Sentinels - anti-mutant robots. When the X-Men fought him, they were shocked to find that he looked decades younger, prompting the question of whether this is really Erik with some kind of de-aging process, an illusion, or a new mutant copying Magneto's powers and taking his name.
Magneto can sense and manipulate magnetic fields, as well as control some forms of electromagnetic energy. He has used this ability to control amounts of metal as minute as a few grams of iron in a prison guard's bloodstream and as massive as an entire sunken oil platform.
While Magneto's power primarily affects ferrous metals, he can control magnetic fields to such an extent that he can manipulate other metals and structures. He has also been able to create 'bubbles' of magnetic force that repel any object he can affect with his powers.
Magneto cannot affect his own body with his powers, but has used even trace amounts of metal on his person both to armor himself, to levitate, and to travel at high speeds underwater through the use of a metallic cocoon. Magneto has also perfected subconscious control over the metal in his clothing, providing him with instantly reactive body armor.
In addition to his mutant powers, Magneto is also a brilliant engineer and scientist, surpassed only by Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggart in the field of mutant genetics.
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PB: Ian McKellen