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Summary

  • Magneto was introduced as the original antagonist of the X-Men, in 1963’s
    X-Men
    #1; over time, he has come to be depicted as one of the most powerful, and most morally complex, mutant characters in the Marvel Universe.
  • Over sixty years, Magneto has evolved from antagonist to hero; in every era, and every medium, and in every role he has played, Magneto has been a pivotal character in the
    X-Men
    franchise.
  • Magneto’s ability to control metal has made generations of readers take a second look at the world around them; as the
    X
    -franchise has been adapted into various mediums, the Master of Magnetism and his abilities have proven to be essential to
    X-Men’s
    success.
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Magneto is among the powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe. Not only do his powers of magnetic manipulation lack any discernible upper limit, his willpower and determination to lead mutantkind to a better future – at times, through practically any means necessary – are equally relentless. Beyond that, Magneto has frequently proven to be one of the X-franchise’s most fascinating, complex characters.

Across sixty years in print, Magneto has evolved from antagonist to hero, occasionally relapsed into villainy, and at one point or another, occupied every space in between. He remains one of the most important characters in the X-Men franchise, something that can be attributed as much to his powers as his personality.

While some mutant powers are purely fantastic, Magneto’s ability to control the metal found in both nature and human-made society – from the beams of the tallest buildings, to the iron in everyone’s blood – has made generations of readers think twice about the world around them.

Related

X-Men: Every Member of the Magneto Family (And Their Relationship to Its Patriarch)

The iconic X-Men antihero Magneto has a vast network of biological, chosen, and secret family, who all have complex relationships to their patriarch.

Magneto Ranks High On The List Of Marvel’s Most Powerful Mutants

His “Omega Level” Powers, Explained

More than just innately powerful, Magneto has…spent a lifetime developing his abilities, striving for the most precise control over different forms of metal that he can achieve. In this sense, he is every bit the “master” over magnetism that he boasts.

Contemporary X-Men comics have established that the true upper limit of Magneto’s powers is undefinable, confirming what readers had known since his debut as the original X-Men villain, that the self-proclaimed Master of Magnetism is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. Though his powers have always been depicted as being potent, for many years, Magneto’s true strength came from his force of personality, and his willingness to go to extremes most wouldn’t to achieve his ends. However, strong his powers were depicted as, his willingness to use them in uncompromising ways made him truly formidable.

First Appearance

Creators

Powers

X-Men #1 (1963)

Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Omega-level control over magnetic fields, allowing him control over even trace amount of metal; magnetic energy blast projection; force field projection; magnetically manipulated flight – on top of all that, Magneto is one of the smartest, most charismatic figures in the Marvel Universe.

Magneto has always been portrayed as a fierce opponent, to the point of ruthlessness. As a leader, but also as a fighter himself. Magneto’s powers allow him to turn any piece of metal into an instant projectile weapon, which he can direct at his enemies with the speed of bullets. This involves more than just being able to fling metal; he can mold it into different forms with ease – meaning he can actually shape it into bullets, or spears, or swords, or particles so fine that his targets don’t even realize they’re coming.

More than just innately powerful, Magneto has devoted his entire existence to his mutanthood; in other words, he has spent a lifetime – in fact, several – developing his abilities, striving for the most precise control over different forms of metal that he can achieve. In this sense, he is every bit the “master” over magnetism that he boasts. While the title Master of Magnetism may have started as just that, a self-styled honorific, it has come to be more than accurate as Magneto has only grown more empowered.

In Marvel Comics, being designated an “Omega Level” mutant means that the limitation of the individual’s mutation cannot be determined; in other words, their ability is only limited by their own ability to wield it.

Magneto’s Mastery Over Magnetism Has Become Stronger Over Time

From Alpha To Omega

[Magneto’s] Omega-level distinction is, in large part, a reflection of the unquantifiable potential of the character. As
X-Men
comics have always shown, and will continue to show, Magneto can and will do anything to overcome adversity.

For years prior to the 2019 start of X-Men’s Krakoan Era, Magneto was not considered an Omega-level mutant. This seemed incongruous with the usage and the extent of his powers, as depicted in various X-books throughout the years, and Jonathan Hickman’s House of X #1 definitively clarified the matter. Just as many readers suspected, the true extent of Magneto’s powers cannot be calculated – only his greatest feats of magnetic mastery can be observed, and an incomplete sense of the incredible scope of his abilities drawn from there.

That isn’t to say that even with Magneto’s previous classification as an Alpha-level mutant, he wasn’t considered among the most powerful – and most dangerous – mutants in the Marvel Universe. Only that the Omega-level distinction is, in large part, a reflection of the unquantifiable potential of the character. As X-Men comics have always shown, and will continue to show, Magneto can and will do anything to overcome adversity when he encounters it. Especially as he has become a firmly heroic character, and his battles to protect mutantkind have only grown grander and more intense.

The most infamous example of Magneto’s power came in 1993’s
X-Men
#25 – written by Fabian Nicieza, with art by Andy Kubert –​​​​​​​ in which the Master of Magnetism
ripped the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones
, irrevocably altering both characters trajectories for the remainder of the 1990s.

Magneto’s Powers Are Uniquely Suited For The Screen

He’s Headlined Most Major Film Adaptations

Just as Magneto’s powers are evocative on the page, they are one of the mutant abilities most adaptable to the screen.

Along with being one of the X-franchise’s undisputed powerhouses, Magneto is also one of the most recognizable mutant characters Marvel has to offer. The character’s impact on X-Men throughout the years has been as pivotal as his perennial counterpart Charles Xavier, and he is as much a fan-favorite as characters like Wolverine, Storm, and Cyclops. This is clear from his central role in nearly every adaptation of X-Men into other mediums, most notably Fox’s X-films, which were respectively shaped around both older and younger versions of Magneto.

Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen as Magneto in Fox's X-Men franchise

​​​​​​​Just as Magneto’s powers are evocative on the page, they are one of the mutant abilities most adaptable to the screen. Meaning that even if Magneto hadn’t been essential to the success of the X-Men movies to begin with, he would have been a natural fit. The Master of Magnetism has repeatedly given Fox’s X-filmmakers the ability to craft exciting set pieces utilizing his power over metal – from the iconic train and State of Liberty scenes from the climax of the original X-Men film, to the most ambitious moments in First Class and Days of Future Past.

Sir Ian McKellen’s portrayal of an older Magneto in 2000’s
X-Men
and its sequels – a version of the character who has been fighting his battle for mutant supremacy for a long time, was congruent with the character’s arc in the comics as it was around the turn of the century, at the time of the movie’s release. Michael Fassbender’s younger Magneto, from the prequel films, captured the nuance of how Magneto had for so long straddled the line between heroism and villainy.

By this same reasoning, Magneto is one of the most highly anticipated entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, when mutantkind finally merges with the singular big-screen portrayal of Marvel’s other properties. Whether he appears in the MCU as a villain, or a hero, or the entirety of his complex trajectory from one to the other can be adapted to the screen, Magneto’s powers, and his charisma, are going to help raise the bar for the next era of Marvel movies.



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