- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Magneto from the X-Men film series. The mainstream version can be found here: Magneto.
|“||There is no land of tolerance. There is no peace, not here or anywhere else. Women and children, whole families destroyed simply because they were born different from those in power. Well, after tonight, the world's powerful will be just like us. They will return home as brothers. As mutants. Our cause will be theirs. Your sacrifice will mean our survival.||„|
|~ Magneto to Rogue, explaining why he's going to kill her at Liberty Island|
|“||I've been at the mercy of men just following orders... Never again.||„|
|~ Erik Lehnsherr.|
Magneto (formerly known as Erik Lensherr) is a major recurring antagonist of the X-Men film series. He is an extremely powerful and ruthless mutant with the ability to manipulate all forms of magnetism and is the rival of the X-Men. His role in the series switches from film to film as sometimes he appears as the main antagonist, sometimes he's an anti-hero and other times he's a protagonist villain.
He was portrayed by Academy Award nominated actor Ian McKellen (who also Kurt Dussander in Apt Pupil and The Toad in Flushed Away) in the first three films and other films in the original timeline and is now portrayed by Academy Award nominated actor Michael Fassbender (who also portrayed Burke in Jonah Hex, David 8 in Prometheous and Alien: Covenant, Edwin Epps in 12 Years A Slave and the title character in Macbeth) in the prequel series and revised timeline movies.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Magneto appears as his younger self and is the protagonist villain of this film. He starts out as young Erik Lensherr who is a Holocaust survivor. When he is persuaded by Dr. Klaus Schmidt to use his power of controlling metal, he refuses to, and tries desperately to when the villain points a gun at his mother. After Schmidt kills his mother, Erik gets enraged and bursts into a rage thus enabling his powers; he turned a filing cabinet inside-out, squeezed two guard's helmets to crush their brains and send loads of metal equipment in the neighboring surgery room flying in a murderous frenzy. Schmidt says that he will unlock his power and gives him a German 5-cent coin that he was meant to move around moments before.
Years later, Erik searches for Schmidt and vows to kill him in his quest for revenge. First, he goes to a bank manager in Geneva, Switzerland and gets him to tell of Schmidt's location; Argentina. Next, Erik went to Argentina and killed three guys in a bar who knew where to find Schmidt. When he finds Schmidt (now calling himself Sebastian Shaw) aboard the ship Caspartina, he meets Charles Xavier, who assists him in the investigation of his plans of launching missiles onto Cuba thus triggering World War III. He starts a close friendship with Charles and a romantic relationship with his fostered sister Raven (Mystique). According to Charles, the two of them may have met earlier in life when they were 17.
When Erik (now dubbed Magneto) and Shaw finally come face to face in Shaw's submarine, Magneto destroys part of Shaw's telepathy shield, removes his helmet and allows Charles to paralyze him long enough to stop him. Unfortunately, Magneto dons the helmet to block Charles' mind. He reluctantly kills Shaw by placing a Nazi coin through his brain (while ignoring Charles' begging to stop).
Later on, the USSR and the US launched missiles at the mutants threatening to kill them and stopping World War III. Magneto takes control of the missiles thus turning them on their launchers. CIA agent Moria MacTaggert tries shooting at Magneto, but Magneto deflects the bullets accidentally paralyzing Charles' legs. He invites the rest of the mutants of the Hellfire Club and the other X-Men to join him in his quest to protect mutant-kind. The X-Men refuse but Mystique joins him and the rest of the Hellfire Club. At the climax of the film, Magneto and his newly formed Brotherhood of Mutants break Emma Frost out of her prison and asks her to join them.
Between X-Men: First Class and X-Men
Erik was falsely-charged with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and was placed in a plastic prison with glass and concrete. The prison was right underneath the Pentagon, and was placed inside even though he had tried to bend the sniper-shot upwards and miss Kennedy. The reason he sought to save Kennedy was because he believed the President to be a mutant.
Sometime before or in 1986, Erik escaped or was let out and went with Xavier, treating each other as friends again, to meet the psychic mutant Jean Grey, who could actually lift up numerous cars in the neighborhood they were in to prove that she's a mutant. Later, Erik left Xavier again and launched forth his plan to arrange mutant prosperity.
Magneto appears as the main antagonist of the first-made film in the series and so far the third chronologically. He believes that a war between mutants and humanity is fast approaching and must prepare for it. His Brotherhood of Mutants in this film include Mystique, Sabretooth and Toad. His first scene in the film is when he is leaving the Senate hall before he is stopped by Professor X and persuades him to stay out of his way and not to interfere with his plans for humanity.
He is next seen when Sabretooth informs him of the attack on Wolverine and Rogue and that Prof. X and the X-Men knew about their whereabouts in Alberta, Canada. Magneto sees a small dog tag around Sabretooth's neck and grabs it magnetically and examines a bit of what the Wolverine is capable of. He then informs that the time has come to put his plans into action by testing a machine that turns humans into mutants (unknown to Magneto that his machine kills them after their mutation). Magneto sends Mystique and Toad to kidnap Senator Robert Kelly and test his machine on him stating 'Let's just say that God works too slowly'. After Kelly falls to his apparent death, Magneto proceeds with kidnapping Rogue plans to use her as a pawn for his machine to mutate the World Leaders on Ellis Island. On Liberty Island at the climax, Wolverine attempts to save Rogue, but Magneto holds him hostage just as the machine starts expanding towards Ellis Island as he holds the other X-Men hostage. Cyclops blasts him and Magneto is therefore sent to a plastic prison. He is visited by Professor X as the two play chess. Just before Prof. X departs, Magneto states 'The war's still coming Charles. And I intend to fight it.'
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Magneto returns as one of the deuteragonist villains, no longer intent with changing humanity but destroying it.
He is visited by Col. William Stryker various times while he retrieves information on Prof. X's mansion and Cerebro, the machine that locates mutants around the world. While conversing with Prof. X, Magneto states that his war has already begun. Later, with help from his associate Mystique, Magneto escapes prison by using the metal in the blood of one of his prison guards.
Magneto is seen afterwards and rendezvous with the X-Men and their allies, giving them information about Stryker's plan to annihilate all mutants. The X-Men and the Brotherhood form an uneasy alliance to stop Stryker for the freedom of mutation. Once at Alkali Lake, Magneto along with Mystique, arrives at Cerebro and switches it around thus revealing his intentions to destroy all humans instead of mutants. Later on, he meets up with William Stryker and nearly chokes him to death. Just before a narrow escape, Magneto recruits young Pyro, who takes his advice (You're a god among insects).
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Magneto returns again as the main antagonist of the third film, this time with a massive army of mutants ready to take down the scientists who created a supposed "cure" that erases the mutant X-gene "permanently".
In the movie, after learning of a special cure for mutations made with the blood of a mutant, Magneto declares an all-out war and expands the Brotherhood of Mutants with new members such as Juggernaut, Multiple Man, The Omegas (Callisto, Arclight, Kid Omega, Psylocke) and various others in addition to his old members Mystique and Pyro.
After a rescue attempt and recruitment, Magneto was to be stunned by the cure, but Mystique sacrificed herself and was abandoned to live amongst the humans. Just as Magneto starts to expand his new army, he learns that Jean Grey (now known as the Phoenix) has survived her death and attempts to recruit her with only Prof. X, Wolverine and Storm standing in his way. He sends for Juggernaut and the Omegas for back-up to distract Wolverine and Storm. Persuading Jean to think that Prof. X wants to control her power, Jean goes insane, destroys her house and kills Prof. X in her outrage. Feeling heartbroken, Magneto takes Jean with him back to his lair. As Magneto sets out to destroy the source of the mutant cure (a mutant as it turns out), he senses that Wolverine was in his midst and stops him from taking Jean away from the Brotherhood. On their way to Alcatraz, Magneto and his Brotherhood army use the Golden Gate bridge to destroy everything on Alcatraz to reach their goal of destroying the cure. After fighting the X-Men, he is cured by Beast from behind. In defeat, he says to Jean 'This is what they want for all of us'. Feeling regret on what he did to Jean, he flees the Dark Phoenix's final stand.
At the end of the film, Magneto, sitting in at a chessboard in a park, manages to move a chesspiece slighty, showing that he is slowly getting his powers back.
The Wolverine (2013)
At the film's post-credit scene, Magneto, having managed to fully regain his powers, appears before Wolverine in search of help to fight a new kind of war that could destroy every mutant in the world with a revived Professor X there as well.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
|“||I don't know karate, but I know crazy.||„|
|~ Erik Lensherr in X-Men: Days of Future Past|
In the past, he is a major antagonist. He is one of the characters necessary to help change the future from the dystopia filled with Sentinels created by Dr. Bolivar Trask. He first appears as a prisoner held in the 100th floor below the Pentagon in a specially made cell. However, he gets freed with the aid of Charles Xavier, Wolverine, Beast, and Quicksilver. Magneto later tries to kill Mystique in Paris by putting a bullet into her, specifically her ankle, to ensure the mutant's future and survival, but fails to do so. Afterwards, a public showcase of the Sentinels at the White House is made to make sure that people will be kept safe from mutants.
|“||You built these weapons to destroy us. Why? Because you are afraid of our gifts, because we are different. Humanity has always feared that which is different. Well, I am here to tell you, to tell the world, you are right to fear us. We are the future, we are the ones who will inherit this earth, and anyone who stands in our way will suffer the same fate as these men you see before you. Today was meant to be a display of your power, instead I give you a glimpse of the devastation my race can unleash upon yours. Let this be a warning to the world and my mutant brothers and sisters out there, I say this: No more hiding, no more suffering, you have lived in the shadows in shame and fear for too long. Come out, join me, fight together in a brotherhood of our kind. A new tomorrow that starts today.||„|
|~ Magneto, in the past, convincing mutants around the world to join him in his revolution.|
However, Magneto has commandeered the Sentinels by inserting metal into their polymer bodies and also uses a lifted up stadium to keep other humans out of the way. Announcing mutant supremacy on live television, Magneto is attacked by Beast and Wolverine but keeps them at bay. However, when threatening the President, Mystique disguised as Nixon shoots him. After Mystique spares Trask at Xavier's urging, the Professor allows Mystique and Magneto to leave, believing that there is hope for both of them to change for the better.
In 2023, Magneto is a major character. Meanwhile in the future timeline, Magneto helps the X-Men fend off the Sentinels but is injured badly during the war of the sentinels. Right before the Sentinels can finish him off along with Xavier, Wolverine, and Kitty Pryde, the future is changed. What became of Magneto in the revised timeline, and how much of the original still occurred beyond X-Men: First Class, is unclear at the moment.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Magneto returns as the anti-hero once again. He tried to live like a normal human in Poland and worked in a factory under name Henryk. There he used his powers to save his colleague from a falling heavy metal bucket. However his colleague reported him to local police. When he was about to be arrested for his terrorist action one decade ago of the policemen accidentally shot his daughter and wife. Despaired Erik killed them all and returned to the factory to kill all his colleagues who ahd reported him to the police. There Apocalypse appeared with his Horsemen, all killed all Magneto's former colleagues before he had the chance to do so. Apocalypse then recruited Magneto as a Horseman of the Apocalypse under name "War". Magneto is then sent to the ruins of Auschwitz where he destroys the camp after remembering horrors that he had experienced as a young boy. He then appears in Cairo where he and the Horsemen assist Apocalypse in destroying civilization to remake the world in the image of Apocalypse but the X-Men come to save Charles. During the battle, Mystique arrives and tells Erik that he hasn't lost everything , convincing Erik to have a change of heart and turn on Apocalypse. After a brutal battle, Jean unleashes her powers on Apocalypse and destroyers his armor which allows Magneto to impale him and Jean to finally finish him off. He then helps rebuild the X-Mansion but leaves still being distrusting of humanity.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
Magneto will return in the upcoming film Dark Phoenix, however it is unknown he will act as a hero or villain. He is shown to have taken up residence on the island Genosha, following Charles' example of creating a safe haven for lost or wayward mutants.
Magneto's whereabouts are unknown by the time of Logan, although it's implied he may be dead. It's possible due to his connection with Xavier that his first psychic seizure may have killed him.
|“||Nobody ever talks about it. They just... do it. And you go on with your lives, ignoring the signs all around you. And then one day when the air is still, and the night has fallen, they come. There's only one question you must answer: who will you stand with?||„|
|~ Magneto, to the Mutants at the church, regarding how humanity will utilize the cure against them|
Magneto is a justifiable, passionate, and righteous crusader of mutant rights and justice, dispersing both to anyone, human and mutant alike that may threaten his species and is willing to kill or sacrifice members of his own Brotherhood of Mutants for the survival of mutants in general. Having felt the prejudice and cruelty of humanity as a mutant and a Jew and firmly believing that co-existence is unobtainable between the two species, Magneto decreed that humanity must either evolve to match mutantkind's standards or be exterminated altogether. Similar to how the Nazis ripped the Jews from their homes and into the concentration camps, Magneto believes that humanity will attack without warning and that it is essential for mutants to strike first lest they be put through a similar Holocaust.
However, it should be noted that Magneto has at least had a relationship with a human which caused the birth of his son, Peter Maximoff. This also implies that he does not hate humanity but rather what humankind is capable of and this is not without reason in itself. With all mutants, Magneto is completely accepting regardless of their past actions or powers. Though he displayed a willingness to kill his own species if it was beneficial to the survival of his species in a whole, such as Rogue, Jimmy and even Mystique, he displays deep remorse over doing such brutal acts, with the exclusion being Sebastian Shaw of course. A significant driving force of Magneto, that is the primary motivation to most of his actions is how the prejudice of modern society and the people within it also enforces other mutants that their powers are a curse and that they should be ashamed of who they are. His romantic feelings for Mystique also solidified these belifies, seeing her having to hide her natural blue form and her brother figure, Charles Xavier encouraging this due to the hatred she would undoubtedly face, Magneto was the only one who told her to embrace who she truly was. Thinking it unfair that mutants had to hide on the basis that humanity would only fear what they could not understand, Magneto's beliefs of an idyllic society was a solely mutant one without human influence on how mutantkind should behave.
For a large portion of his young adult life, though Magneto was not completely driven out of pure righteousness and devotion to his species. He was once greatly motivated by revenge and this was what led him to be a skilled Nazi-killer, hunting down anyone who participated in the capture and torture of Jews during the Holocaust. He hunted down and tortured former Nazis with connection to Klaus Schmidt, such as removing the golden tooth implants of a bank manager for information and brutally murders three others. His vicious determination over revenge led him to be almost suicidal as he continued his magnetic hold over Shaw's submarine, ignoring the fact that he would drown. Magneto's opinions seemed to change after he encountered Charles Xavier and opened his eyes to a world of mutants. For a while, he seemed to have quenched his initial driving point and now assisted with building Cerebro and locating other mutants. Ultimately, however, Magneto's desire of revenge proved to great and he painfully, slowly killed the man who murdered his mother before his eyes despite Xavier's protests which could be considered the turning point for Magneto's dark future.
The relationship between Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier is also convoluted to an extreme, as their morals, approaches and opinions of one another often obstruct their goals and actions throughout the series. Magneto is highly skeptical of Xavier's unshakable love and admiration for the human race, whom he views as simply an evolution behind mutantkind. He is willing to hurt, threaten or even kill Charles in pursuit of his goals - he was willing to poison Charles in order to prevent him from interfering. That being said, Magneto was visibly traumatized by the man's apparent death, which means that his mutual respect for Charles was more broad than expected. He could have only poisoned Charles in the knowledge that he would soon recover, but simply wanted to remove him from the battlefield long enough to achieve his goals. This also implies that Magneto is so respectful of Charles that he acknowledges Charles to be one of few powerful enough to defeat him. Magneto, also, is rendered furious when Charles is insulted by Pyro, stating that Charles did more for Mutantkind than can ever be measured and that it was only a regret that Charles had to die so that Mutantkind could flourish. Another interesting aspect of their relationship is how they both refer to each other affably as "old friend". Their friendship is so tactile that (to this day) the two can play a friendly game of chess with one another however their ideals of humanity will always put them on edge - Magneto recognizes that a war between humans and mutants will erupt very soon and Magneto will be there to fight it, to which Charles wittily returns that, in contrast, Professor Charles Xavier will always be there to stand in his way.
- At the original Marvel continuity of X-Men, Magneto was born as Max Eisenhardt and not as Erik Lensherr, even if he adopted this name as an alias.
- At the time of the first installment's creation process, the name Erik Lensherr was used to give the character a Gypsy heritage to avoid "demonizing" Jewish Holocaust survivor community.
- The number tattooed on Erik's hand is 214782.
- The tattooed number was first shown on Uncanny X-Men #150, written by Chris Claremont in 1981.
- Following the announcement of the production beginning of X-Men Origins: Wolverine that was released on 2009, there was many other plans for a solo film focused on the character titled X-Men Origins: Magneto. This film was planned to be focused on a young Erik being liberated from the Nazi camps by his best friend; Charles Xavier, an allied American soldier. However, due to the extreme poor critical reaction to Origins Wolverine despite its box office success ($373 million), copuled with the Writer's Guild of America strike, the project of Magneto was pitted on indefinite hiatus and eventually was ultimately cancelled and the most of the working script had been amalgamated into Matthew Vaughn's prequel X-Men film from 2011; X-Men: First Class.
- Both actors received global critical acclaim for their performances.