Magneto is the most well-known, powerful foe that the X-Men have ever battled. (Think Apocalypse is stronger? Skip to number three!)
He has also been the team’s biggest ally at times, but the militant mutant’s complications extend far beyond this fellowship. From channeling his parental energy into nurturing a couple of terrorists, to defying his own beliefs and history to become a self-hating monster, Erik Lehnsherr has some baggage, to say the least. But hey, don’t we all? Magneto’s just weigh more than most.
While every Marvel character has his or her own flaws and made plenty of major mistakes, Magneto is by far the most interesting X-villain in history. His layered personality and complex inner battle raging between good and evil make Magneto such a compelling character. Most of his decisions can even be traced back to good intentions gone wrong, with which every human being can relate.
Magneto reminds us that there’s almost always a gray area, and that there is often a fine line between right and wrong. Something that feels like justice at the moment may be far from it upon closer inspection.
From the laughably ludicrous to the downright diabolical, here are the 15 Most Shocking Things Magneto Has Ever Done.
15. Babysat The X-Men With A Robot Nanny
Robots are all the rage today as they become more available to humans for various purposes, but Magneto used them for one of the strangest reasons of all: to kidnap the X-Men and treat them like little babies. If humiliation works as a punishment for children (it shouldn’t, by the way; stop shaming the kids!), why not for the X-Men?
You have to wonder what Erik was thinking when he used a nanny robot (creatively named Nanny), not unlike Rosie of The Jetsons fame, to chastise the X-Men and care for them as if they were infants in X-Men #112-113. She was especially enthused over brushing Beast’s fur. In another comic she tried to kill the X-Men because she’s just that awesome of a mutant childcare provider.
Not only did this creepy bot dress in a French maid costume, leaving us to speculate about other potential issues Lehnsherr may harbor, but she even made a repeat performance during Age of Apocalypse, when Magneto and Rogue had her care for their own son.
14. Used Magnetic Personality As A Weapon
From some of his older battles to swaying a jury in his own favor, Magneto has used a really weird power to engage in mind control: his “magnetic personality.”
This wouldn’t be so much of a stretch if it were attributed to someone like Gambit, whom we expect to sway others with his mutant charm factor, but using magnetism as a literal and figurative power at the same time is just weird. In the issue, he implores, “You cannot turn away! You are held by magnetic attraction!” while sporting a starry eye.
Magneto’s powers are varied and cool, but this is such a stretch that it not only makes a joke out of his actual magnetic powers, but also breaks the continuity of the entire X-Men universe. How many times could he have used this supposed power to get what he wanted over the years? The X-Men would have never been able to stop him had he really been able to manipulate people to his will.
13. Lost To The Fantastic Four
Magnet has lost plenty of battles over his decades in the Marvel world, but some of them just made us scratch our heads. Magneto’s appearance in a 1978 animated episode of Fantastic Four called “The Menace of Magneto” is a great example.
When he lost against the Fantastic Four, it was both bizarre and brilliant. Reed Richards disguised a wooden gun as a piece of metal, which still stands as one of the strangest yet most effective fake outs in the history of Marvel. It was also a completely over-the-top portrayal of Magneto, who has since become a much more complex and interesting character.
Not only did it allow the team to beat Magneto, but it even made him question his own powers! That’s almost a double victory, especially when you consider that Erik should’ve been able to use his “magnetic personality” as a backup weapon.
12. He BECAME One Of The X-Men… Lots Of Times
Given how many times as Erik has become one of the X-Men, you’d think he would just stick to the side of good and stay there. He’s left and come back more times than some of the actual X-Men!
Between being one of the first on the team in X-Men: First Class to serving as the team’s leader during the Age of Apocalypse, Magneto has often demonstrated his capabilities for good, even if they did sometimes amount to the same bad endings that his more nefarious plans produced. In many cases, Magneto was every bit the leader Charles Xavier was – and in some stories, a much better one.
Magneto even once took over Xavier’s school under a secret identity when Charles asked him to do so as a favor while he was too injured to run it himself. Magneto called himself “Michael Xavier” at the time, but his fake name didn’t help him keep the job for long.
11. Engaged In Cyber-Terrorism On Steroids
Magneto was pretty much the first cyber terrorist. Long before today’s crazy viruses threats and everyone worried about their thirty-six passwords being encrypted properly, Magneto threatened the planet with a bunch of nukes, and when the United Nations refused to stand down, he simply wiped out all of the electronic devices on Earth. This is almost the mirror image of Magneto threatening nuke-holders with violence if they didn’t give up their weapons (read on).
It gets worse: the United Nations couldn’t deal with Magneto, who was much too powerful for them to contend with, so they simply gave into his demands! He wanted the nation of Genosha and he got it, forcing all humans to leave in order create a mutant-only island.
10. Married Rogue And Had A Son
Most fans considered it to be pretty weird when Rogue went for Magneto over Gambit during the Age of Apocalypse, but we also understand that pretty much anything goes when it comes to such a departure from the standard story. The story still features plenty of tension between Rogue and Gambit, but just having her marry her former Brotherhood of Evil Mutants leader, who often belittled and hurt her when she was a member of his team, felt wrong to many fans.
Not only did Erik marry Rogue, but he was also able to inexplicably have a child with her, an occurrence that still baffles fans. “Yes, your powers of absorption are carried through the iron in your blood, which I can control with my powers so I can make out with you!” The kid also has the Nanny bot as his caregiver, which is just too weird.
9. Left Toad For Dead
Most of Magneto’s followers have abandoned or at least questioned him at one point or another. Toad, his most loyal servant, had always been the exception to that rule… until Magneto escaped a kidnapping and left Toad for dead.
Mortimer Toynbee, the hopping hunchback who followed Magneto everywhere, was pretty much used to his savior’s constant bullying. He’d been bullied most of his life already anyway, but Magneto’s treatment of Toad further demonstrated how much of a jerk the villain could be. When you’re a meanie to your own henchmen, you become a cartoon caricature bad guy.
When The Stranger kidnapped both mutants for experimentation, Magneto was able to easily escape. He left Toad behind in the process, which damaged their toxic relationship forever. Even once he had a change of heart and returned for Toad, his henchman stopped trusting him, ultimately abandoning the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
8. Made His Own Kids Become Terrorists
Whether you consider Wanda and Pietro Erik’s kids or not (it’s caught between arguments of continuity and retcons, so you could make either case), when Magneto groomed Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to become terrorists, they were his children – for all intents and purposes. Being a terrorist shouldn’t top a parent’s bucket list of desires for his children, but that’s exactly what Magneto wanted out of the twins.
Neither twin wanted to be a part of the evil group, but Scarlet Witch felt obligated after Magneto had saved them from an angry mob after their mutant blood. Quicksilver opted to remain in the group only to be with his sister. Like Rogue, who also left the group, the two have had a much longer history as heroes than as villains.
7. Destroyed an Entire City
When a grown man doesn’t get what he wants, he may sulk or move on or even take it out on the punching bag. When Magneto doesn’t get what he wants, he throws a temper tantrum so large that he wrecks the planet’s magnetic field and destroys cities, people, and anything else standing in his way.
When he went on a self-proclaimed “protector of the Earth” power trip, not only did Magneto cause a volcanic eruption with his magnetic disruption, he did so all over an entire city, leaving people terrorized, displaced and homeless in the process. We’re not talking about some little town, either; skyscrapers filled with thousands of people were consumed by lava here.
6. Tortured People
Magneto has never been squeamish about hurting people in order to get what he wants. He has always maintained that the end justifies the means, and he does not shy away from racking up casualties of war, no matter which side they are on.
He has fought viciously, abandoning the gentlemanly conduct one would expect from Sir Ian McKellen and carrying out some of the most gruesome and brutal attacks in the history of the X-Men, which we’ll talk about later.
While Magneto will enact his revenge upon his enemies, he’s also not above petty violence for no apparent reason, which just reminds us about how dangerous he can really be.
5. Drowned A Sub Of Sailors
When Erik got it into his head that his benevolent dictatorship was what the world needed to become a better place, he pretty much did the opposite of what a kind leader would do. His killing spree seemed endless in Uncanny X-Men #150.
One of the atrocities that he committed in this comic was sinking a Russian submarine of sailors and drowning them all. Why? Because the world’s nuclear weapons controllers refused to negotiate with him, since they don’t negotiate with terrorists. He even tells the sailors that they have to die because of the government’s stupidity, admitting that it’s really for nothing.
It’s noble that Erik wished to dismantle nuclear weapons, but killing people to stop more people from being killed is pretty stupid and someone as smart as Magneto should’ve realized that. His blind ambition for his cause kept him from seeing the true effects of his actions until he’d already caused so much death and destruction.
4. Ripped Wolverine Apart
It’s not every day that a criminal renders Wolverine so helpless, so tortured, that he can’t even scream, but if anyone can do it, it might as well be Magneto.
He ripped the adamantium right out of Wolverine in a pretty brutal panel that illustrated just what Erik was capable of doing. Sure, Wolvie had just dealt him a slash that could’ve killed him, and Jean and Professor X were using Logan as a distraction to take out Magneto telepathically, but Magneto could’ve easily just held James immobile rather than destroy him so painfully.
Luckily, Jean Grey was able to keep Logan’s body together while it repaired itself through his healing factor. It was one of those times when Charles threw up his hands at his old friend and demonstrated his own vast powers, entering Magneto’s mind and shutting it down so he couldn’t even remember the horrors he’d committed.
3. Ripped Apocalypse Apart, Too
Remember the time that Magnus tore Apocalypse in half? Yeah, this disproves the whole idea that Apocalypse is the most powerful mutant in the world. Okay, so it was during the Age of Apocalypse, which was basically a wild retcon where anything goes, but it’s a great scene nonetheless.
Apocalypse, drunk on his own power and self-righteousness as ever, goads Magneto, demanding that he “fight back” as he holds him down. Erik seems almost smug when he grates back, “I can’t, I’m concentrating.” He takes advantage of Apocalypse being wiped out from another battle and pretty much just rips him apart with one forceful burst.
Apocalypse’s head is still there muttering at the end because he’s Apocalypse… like the animals in Pet Cemetery, he always comes back, but it’s still a pretty impressive moment.
2. Wiped Out Millions Of People
How would you like to be known as the villain who slew not only Professor X, but Daredevil, Nightcrawler and other superheroes as well as thousands of innocent bystanders?
During the Ultimate Wave story in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, Magneto killed millions of people, mutant and non-mutant alike. The loss of his children seemed to throw Magneto into full destruction mode. One of the cruelest moves that readers witnessed in Ultimatum was the moment when he snapped Charles Xavier’s neck.
Using his powers and possibly Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor, he flipped the planet’s polarity to cause instant chaos, including a tidal wave that hit New York City and wiped out a bunch of people. Whether Doctor Doom was behind this event or not, the Ultimate Wave secures Magneto’s place in the Hall of Fame of villains who won the day for the side of evil.
1. Became A Hypocritical, Genocidal Maniac
Most of the time, when you hear about a person who survived a terrible atrocity like genocide, that person is speaking about its horrors and condemning the crimes committed. You don’t often hear about a genocidal maniac who survived genocide, but that is exactly what happens to Erik – many times over.
The irony is that his motivation at the beginning of his story is to improve the world and make it a kinder place to be than the world he experienced during the Holocaust, but it’s a genocidal world that he ends up attempting to foster in the process.
Magneto doesn’t always learn from his mistakes, but he did realize that he became what he always hated when he nearly killed Kitty Pryde.
“She is a child! What have I done?” he laments in Uncanny X-Men #150 upon realizing that he was killing a Jewish youth who could have easily been him in another world.
Are there any shocking Magneto moments that we missed from X-Men? Let us know in the comments!
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