The X-Men are one of Marvel’s most popular superhero teams. They were the face of the company throughout the nineties and helped set the stage for the Marvel Cinematic Universe with their movie franchise. As such, many X-Men characters became household names. With the aid of the ’90s X-Men cartoon, characters like Wolverine and Professor Xavier became as recognizable as the likes of Spider-Man and Captain America.
It wasn’t just the heroes of the X-Men comics who became well-known. Unlike their contemporaries in The Avengers, the X-Men have lots of great villains, who achieved an infamy of their own.
We are here today to look at the X-Men’s most iconic villain of all time – Magneto, the Master of Magnetism. He is an awesome antagonist for many different reasons, with a history that is tied to the team that opposes him. We are going to look into the uncanny history of the X-Men’s greatest foe. From his fear of wooden firearms to the movie that never was.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Magneto!
15. Magneto Lost To The Fantastic Four (Thanks To A Wooden Gun)
Even though he is most often associated with the X-Men, Magneto has battled other superheroes and villains in the past. This is partly because the character has existed since 1963 and it’s only natural that he run into someone else during that time. Magneto is especially likely to tussle with someone who uses metal weapons, just so the writer can show how awesome he is. If Magneto is put up against the Avengers, then it is just so he can toss around Iron Man, Thor’s Hammer (sometimes), and Captain America’s shield.
The first ever screen adaptation of Magneto was, surprisingly, not in an X-Men related form of media. He first appeared in 1978’s The New Fantastic Four. In the episode, “The Menace of Magneto”, the team comes under the control of the Master of Magnetism.
Magneto’s reign of terror would not last long, as Reed Richards comes up with a cunning plan to defeat him. He paints a wooden gun silver and pretends that it is beyond Magneto’s control. This plan works amazingly well, as Magneto has a total mental breakdown at the thought of losing his powers.
14. Magneto And The City Of R’lyeh
Those of you who are familiar with the works of H.P. Lovecraft might know the name of “R’lyeh”. It was first mentioned in The Call of Cthulhu, as a lost city that is hidden underwater in some part of the South Pacific. The city of R’lyeh acts as the prison of the evil god Cthulhu. According to the worshippers of Cthulhu, he will one day awaken and escape from R’lyeh.
The city of R’lyeh formed the basis for one of Magneto’s bases. In Uncanny X-Men #147, a shipwrecked Cyclops discovers a mysterious island of alien origin. The architecture on the island contained statues of octopus headed people, much like the description of Cthulhu. Magneto uses this island as a base of operations for a brief story arc before it is never mentioned again. The island was never explicitly referred to as R’lyeh, though the inspiration for its design is clear. This is possibly due to the uncertain public domain status of a lot of H.P. Lovecraft’s work.
13. The Death Of Apocalypse
The Age of Apocalypse is one of the most popular X-Men storylines of all time. It takes place in an alternate timeline, where Professor Xavier was murdered by his time-travelling son, Legion. In this version of Earth, Apocalypse has taken over most of America. His main opposition is the X-Men, led by a heroic Magneto. They are the only thing standing between Apocalypse and world domination.
As the Age of Apocalypse was presented as a temporary crossover, the writers were free to kill any character that they wanted. In the final issue of the series, Magneto has an epic battle against Apocalypse. After giving him a speech about how dictators are always overthrown, Magneto creates a suit of armour from the technology of Apocalypse’s base and lays a vicious beatdown on him. At the end of their confrontation, Magneto literally rips Apocalypse in half, killing him in moments. This proves that Apocalypse is not invincible, as many had previously believed.
While X-Men: Apocalypse was disappointing for many reasons, one of the biggest for longtime X-Men fans was the exclusion of this scene. Many believed that we would finally get a big screen adaptation of Magneto tearing Apocalypse in half. What we got instead was a big letdown.
12. The DILF Manga Magneto
Marvel and DC have made a few attempts to attract female readers over the years. These have mostly failed, except when it comes to adaptations of their properties (TV shows, movies, video games). This isn’t because of some outdated “girls don’t get comic books” attitude. For years now, the manga industry has had a massive female fanbase, who are as serious about their hobby as the fans of Western superhero comics.
There have been several attempts at making manga versions of popular Marvel and DC properties. One of these was X-Men Misfits, which followed a teenage Kitty Pryde as she joins the Xavier Academy. In this version of X-Men, the mutant gene has made most of the cast look like members of boy bands. Magneto is no exception to this, as he is presented as a handsome older man, who invites Kitty to the school. In Misfits, Magneto is the Physics teacher at the Xavier academy, though he still maintains some of his attitudes concerning the superiority of mutants.
11. Welcome… TO DIE!
The X-Men arcade game is one of the most popular side-scrolling beat ’em ups of all time. When it was first released in 1992, it gave players a chance to carve up the Sentinels as their favourite X-Men characters (and Dazzler). There even exists special versions of the cabinet that can handle six players at once.
Most fans might not be aware of the origin of the X-Men arcade game. It is actually an adaptation of a cartoon series that never made it past the pilot stage. In 1989, Marvel created a single episode of a new X-Men cartoon, which was never picked up for syndication. It was later released as a standalone movie, called X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. Not being one to let good assets go to waste, Marvel allowed the designs from the show to be used in the arcade game.
While the X-Men arcade game managed to secure the artwork from Pryde of the X-Men, it didn’t manage to get its writers or voice actors. The game has since become known for a horrible scene of Engrish dialogue. When the X-Men first meet Magneto, he greets them by saying “X-Men… welcome, TO DIE!”
10. The Four Gods Of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
Due to the popularity of both the X-Men and fighting games in the ’90s, it was only a matter of time before the two joined together. Capcom released X-Men: Children of the Atom into the arcades in 1994. They still make fighting games that involve Marvel characters to this very day.
Before the jump to 3D, Capcom tended to reuse the sprites from their 2D games repeatedly. As such, the bosses from X-Men: Children of the Atom (Juggernaut and Magneto) would eventually become playable.
One of the most popular fighting games of all time is Marvel vs. Capcom 2. In this game, there are four characters who considered to be better than the rest of the cast. They are referred to as the “Four Gods” by fans. They are Cable, Storm, Sentinel and Magneto.
9. X-Men Evolution Totally Changed His Backstory
If you are aware of Magneto’s backstory (from the films or comics), then you know that he was sent to a Concentration Camp during World War 2. It was here that he grew to hate humankind. Much of the motivation for his actions come from this event in his life. This backstory is one of the main reasons that Magneto works so well as a villain. As a child, he witnessed his people murdered for no other reason than that they were different. As an adult, the same thing is happening again, only this time, he has the power to stop it. Would you not do the same in Magneto’s shoes?
This key part of Magneto’s motivation was changed in X-Men: Evolution, a cartoon series that was loosely inspired by the X-Men movies. In Evolution, Magneto was saved from a prison camp as a youth by Wolverine and Captain America. A literal team-up between a mutant and the symbol of all that is good in humanity was not enough to stop Magneto from becoming a terrorist.
8. He Saved Professor Xavier’s Life In The ’90s Cartoon
To many older X-Men fans, the best version of Magneto is the one voiced by David Hemblen in the ’90s X-Men cartoon. While Ian McKellen is a great actor, he also neglected to do any sort of accent for Magneto. Going on his backstory, Magneto was born in Germany, where he was imprisoned in Auschwitz. After the war ended, he travelled the world searching for Nazis, before living in America for years. After all that, Ian Mckellen decided to settle on a posh British accent for the character. The accent attempted by Hemblen was a least a bit more accurate to Magneto’s backstory.
Even though Magneto opposed the X-Men throughout the original cartoon series, he still had occasional moments of heroism. In the final episode of the show, Professor Xavier lays dying. The only way to save his life is to get a message to Lilandra of the Shi’ar Empire. To do this, they need Magneto’s help.
Magneto is on the cusp of uniting all mutants against humanity. When he hears that his old friend needs his help, he abandons his cause and rushes to his side. Xavier is forced to leave Earth and remain with the Shi’ar. He says his goodbyes to his friends and students, before leaving the Earth forever. Magneto stands with the X-Men during the final few scenes. It is implied that he may join the X-Men in Xavier’s place.
7. Magneto’s Bizarre Love Affair With Rogue
Throughout most of their time in the X-Men comics, Rogue and Gambit have been in an on-again-off-again relationship. This is partly due to the nature of Rogue’s power keeping the relationship from becoming physical. It isn’t just Gambit who has competed for the affections of Rogue, however. Magneto has had a lot of romantic tension with Rogue over the years, despite the fact that he is 30+ years older than her and a mass murdering terrorist.
Rogue and Magneto’s relationship was enflamed during a period when they fought against Zaladane in the Savage Land. This arc also popularised the skimpy “Savage Land” outfit for Rogue, which has since become popular with cosplayers. After Magneto returned from his supposed death on Asteroid M and crashed Illyana Rasputin’s funeral, Rogue attacked him with a kiss. It didn’t work, however, as Magneto had too much power for her to steal. Rogue later had a brief relationship with Joseph, who was a younger clone of Magneto.
6. The Power Of A Magnetic Personality
Having the ability to control magnetism gives Magneto (and other characters with the same ability) an amazing range of powers. By applying pieces of metal to his outfit, he can cause himself to levitate. He can control the iron in people’s blood in order to freeze them in place. He can create force fields and bubbles of energy to carry people around. Magneto is one of the few people who can alter Adamantium, Osmium (organic metal, like the one that Colossus can turn into) and Vibranium. He has also been able to perform odd feats using his powers, like opening wormholes and creating projections of himself.
The most bizarre use of Magneto’s powers happened in the early days of the X-Men comics. Magneto was once able to control a couple of people through the use of his “Magnetic Attraction“. This is a very liberal interpretation of controlling magnetism. It’s like something you would see in One Piece rather than X-Men.
5. The Genetic Cause Of Evil
When the X-Men debuted in 1963, no one anticipated that the series would still be going on into the modern era. As Marvel held off on a DC style reboot (at least until recently), this meant that the characters had to be kept at an undetermined age, whilst recent events changed around them. With the introduction of younger characters (like the New Mutants and Generation X, for example), the older X-Men were shifted into a “30’s-ish” age.
One X-Men character who has had his age altered on many occasions is Magneto. He was turned into an infant by Alpha the Ultimate Mutant. The baby Magneto was sent to Muir Island, where Moira MacTaggart discovered that Magneto’s powers were affecting his nervous system. This was given as a reason for Magneto’s behaviour towards humankind, as he was made extra-paranoid by his magnetism. Moira attempted to change Magneto’s genetics, in order to prevent this from happening again. Her experiments did not last, however, and Magneto’s personality returned when he was restored to his regular age.
4. Ultimate Magneto Was A Mass Murderer
Most of Magneto’s appearances across the various forms of X-Men media have attempted to make him somewhat relatable as a villain. He has a motive that has nothing to do with being evil and he has a backstory that explains why he became the way he did.
There is one Magneto that is totally irredeemable, however. The version of Magneto that appeared in Ultimate X-Men is one of the most horrific characters in comic book history.
In the Ultimatum crossover, Magneto damages the Earth’s magnetic poles in such a way that it causes huge natural disasters across the globe. He then uses Madrox the Multiple Man as an army of suicide bombers. These acts together caused the demise of untold thousands, along with the deaths of many major Ultimate characters. In the end, an alliance of the surviving heroes attacks Magneto’s fortress. He is finally killed by Cyclops, who blows Magneto’s head from his shoulders with a blast of energy.
3. The New York City Hypocrite
After the tragedy of the events of 9/11, there was a question of whether it was an appropriate subject to be covered in a comic book. After all, most of Marvel’s characters are based in New York City. How could Marvel or DC avoid talking about it?
There was a touching issue of Amazing Spider-Man (issue 477) that showed the events of 9/11 from Spider-Man’s perspective. The only thing holding the issue back from greatness is a single page that has become a source of mockery. We see Kingpin, Doctor Doom and Magneto standing around in the aftermath of the destruction. The evil supervillain Doctor Doom is so upset about the events that he starts to cry.
This brings us to our next point. Magneto has no right to be there. He has personally attacked New York City on many occasions. In Fantastic Four #102-104, he teamed up with Namor and the armies of Atlantis to attack New York City. His sadness clearly didn’t last long, as only two years later (during the “Planet X” event), Magneto took over New York City. He massacred hundreds of humans in Nazi-style Concentration Camps, as well as lifting people’s cars high into the air and letting them drop to their death.
2. The Original Death Of Magneto
Popular villains never truly die. They might “die” for a couple of months, or even years as part of some storyline. Their stay in the afterlife won’t be permanent, due to how much the fans love seeing them in action. Characters like the Joker, the Daleks, the Green Goblin and Doctor Doom will never stay dead.
Magneto has had a few scrapes with death, which the creators have played off as being permanent. These have never been taken seriously by the fans. It seems that Magneto was indeed supposed to die at one point. He was originally going to be murdered in the opening of the classic story, “God Loves, Man Kills”.
The story of “God Loves, Man Kills” should be familiar to most fans, as it formed the basis of the story for the second X-Men movie. In “God Loves, Man Kills”, Magneto teams up with the X-Men in order to stop Reverend William Stryker from massacring mutants.
In the original draft for “God Loves, Man Kills”, Magneto was going to be killed in the opening scene by Stryker’s men. This was because the story was originally not going to be part of continuity. As time went, the death of Magneto was changed, and two young mutants were killed in his place.
1. The Magneto Solo Movie Became X-Men: First Class
The 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike ended up affecting the fate of several TV show and movies. One example of this was Heroes. Due to the strike, half of the planned Heroes episodes for those years were not produced. This forced the creators to have to work around this limitation, much to the detriment of the show’s quality.
One franchise that was heavily affected by the Writers Guild Strike was X-Men. There was going to be a standalone Magneto movie. It would show the events of Magneto’s life, from his days in the Concentration Camps to being saved by Charles Xavier (who was a soldier). He would later be shown hunting the Nazis that fled from justice. Ian McKellen was going to shoot the opening and closing scenes of the film, but a new actor would play him for the rest of the movie.
When the Writers Guild Strike began, the Magneto movie was temporarily shelved until it was resolved. In the meantime, X-Men: First Class began to take form. In the end, several of the elements of the solo Magneto movie (the depiction of his early years, the Nazi-hunting) made it into the film. This may have all been for the best, as X-Men: First Class went on to be one of the best films in the franchise.