Our X-Men Magneto Spotlight has everything you need to know about Marvel’s Master of Magnetism!
This Friday, Michael Fassbender will make his third and possibly final appearance as Magneto in Bryan Singer‘s X-Men: Apocalypse. Before that, it was Ian McKellen who played Magneto in the first three X-Men movies, as well as in X-Men: Days of Future Past which featured both McKellen and Fassbender.
It seems that the X-Men movies just can’t go forward without Magneto being in the mix. To a certain extent, this is understandable. He is after all one of the X-Men’s greatest adversaries, and sometimes he’s also one of their greatest allies. It can be hard to pin Magneto down as one thing or the other. The most consistent thing about his characterization is that he is willing do anything and everything to save the Mutant race, even if that means killing humans. At his best, Magneto is not a hero. And yet he remains one of the most compelling figures in the franchise.
Ahead of X-Men: Apocalypse’s opening on Friday, May 27, ComingSoon.net is taking a look back at at key moments in Magneto’s history including his current status quo in the comics.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: Max Eisenhardt
Magneto’s backstory as Jewish prisoner of the Nazis during World War II has been in place for decades, but his real name, Max Eisenhardt, was a retcon from the X-Men: Magneto Testament miniseries by Greg Pak. While being held in Auschwitz, Eisenhardt and a young woman named Magda managed to escape, before rebuilding their lives together. They were eventually and they had a daughter named Anya.
However, the early manifestations of Magneto’s power drew a mob that prevented him from saving Anya from a fire. In response, Magneto slaughtered the mob and Magda left him out of fear. At the time, she was pregnant with their two other children: Wanda and Pietro a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: Magnus
Many years later, Magneto took the name Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, which is his more commonly known name when he isn’t using his famous alter ego. After moving to Israel, Erik met and befriended Charles Xavier. Soon after, they revealed their powers to each other and became as close as brothers. Charles and Eric even teamed up to save their friend, Gabrielle Haller, from the former Nazis in Hydra. But that mission led the two men down separate paths. Charles went on to form the X-Men, while Eric took on the identity of Magneto.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: The Brotherhood
In the first issue of Marvel’s X-Men series, Magneto established himself as the team’s primary nemesis by attacking the U.S. military base at Cape Citadel. Because there wasn’t much subtlety in the comics from the ‘60s, Magneto’s followers called themselves the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Magneto’s children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, were among the members of that team before they broke away and joined the Avengers.
Magneto menaced the X-Men and humanity for several years before he created Alpha, the so-called “ultimate mutant.” Alpha rejected his creator and reduced Magneto to infancy.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: Rebirth
You may be wondering how a man who was born in the 1920s is still so relatively young in the comic book universe. It’s because baby Magneto was never restored to his true age. Instead, the alien Shi’ar agent known as Erik the Red restored Magneto to his physical prime, which is where he remains today.
Magneto resumed his villainous ways, but writer Chris Claremont added additional shades to his motivations. Magneto was still an enemy to the X-Men, but he couldn’t really be called “evil” at that point.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: Headmaster
Right around the time of Uncanny X-Men #200, Claremont wrote Professor Xavier out of the book and installed a reformed Magneto as the new Headmaster of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Hilariously, Magneto had a civilian ID as “Michael Xavier,” Charles’ nonexistent brother. But the comics dropped that angle pretty quickly.
Magneto’s heroic days lasted a few years, before he got tired of trying to be something that he wasn’t. In reality, writers other than Claremont pulled Magneto back towards his more villainous roots. In one story, Magneto even ripped the Adamantium from Wolverine’s bones! But obviously Marvel’s most popular mutant “got better.” Magneto eventually gained control of the island nation of Genosha, and he declared it to be a new mutant homeland.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: E For Extinction
After an abortive attempt to use the mutants of Genosha to overthrow the world, Magneto was seemingly killed during a Sentinel attack that claimed the lives of 16 million mutants. But not Magneto. He was revealed to still be alive and using the alias Xorn to infiltrate the X-Men from within and turn their students into his new Brotherhood.
Magneto couldn’t resist revealing himself before his plan had played out and the X-Men defeated him again. But before he was killed by Wolverine, Magneto murdered Jean Grey at the height of her Phoenix powers. However, it didn’t take Marvel long to retcon that story and state that Xorn was never Magneto, therefore he wasn’t really dead.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: House of M
Meanwhile, Scarlet Witch went super crazy in the pages of The Avengers. Considering that her powers were re-writing reality itself, even Magneto seemed to be onboard with possibly putting his daughter out of her misery. To save his sister, Quicksilver convinced Scarlet Witch to rewrite history into the House of M, a world where mutants were supreme and Magneto was their leader. But when the truth was revealed, Magneto turned on his son and the Scarlet Witch nearly wiped out every mutant in the world with her magic. Only 10% of the world’s mutants kept their powers, and Magneto was not one of them.
A few years later, Magneto reclaimed his powers and he even re-joined the X-Men under the leadership of Cyclops. By that time, there were so few mutants left that even former members of the Brotherhood were following the X-Men.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: The Solo Fight
At the height of his popularity, Marvel gave Magneto his own monthly series, which was written by Cullen Bunn. It was done in the spirit of Fassbender’s popular turn as the younger Magneto in X-Men: First Class, as the comic book Magneto took a new approach to eliminating threats to his people.
This was also shortly after Charles Xavier was killed off during the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event. To make matters worse, Xavier’s brain and his powers were implanted in the Nazi supervillain the Red Skull.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: AXIS
Magneto made a vow to kill the Red Skull for what he had done, but keeping that promise only made the Red Skull into the even more powerful Red Onslaught. To defeat Red Onslaught, Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom cast a spell that basically turned heroes into villains and villains into heroes. That wasn’t its desired effect and Magneto himself was barely affected. But it made Scarlet Witch crazy and dangerous again.
In the middle of this storyline, Marvel retconned the fact that Magneto was the father of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver out of their respective histories. It was a very questionable twist that most readers assume came from a desire to separate Magneto’s former children from the X-Men franchise. That was the one of the few lasting changes from this story. Almost everyone else went back to normal.
X-Men Magneto Spotlight: Uncanny X-Men
Which brings us to the present. In the most recent relaunch, Magneto is leading his own team of X-Men, including Mystique, Sabretooth, Psylocke, and Archangel as a more proactive group that has more in common with X-Force than the X-Men. These X-Men will kill if they have to, and they aren’t on the best terms with the other two teams currently calling themselves X-Men.
So, once again, Magneto is both an ally and an enemy in the world of Marvel.