Magneto has been the arch nemesis of Professor X since the very first issue of the X-men comics in 1963. His prodigious control over everyday metals and ability to generate magnetic fields has always made him a dangerous opponent, requiring the X-Men to utilize the height of teamwork and ingenuity to stop him.
As the X-men comics continued, and the franchise grew, the breadth of Magneto’s powers also increased. Some of the other powers Magneto has shown have been obvious plot devices one might expect from comics. But as far as comic book superpowers go, Magneto’s full power set has developed a respectable internal consistency. In the broadest description, Magneto can control electromagnetism. Usually that lets him manipulate ferrous metals and objects with magnetic properties, but his powers have so many more applications that he’s discovered over the years.
Magneto is the master of far more than just magnetism. Here are 15 Superpowers You Didn’t Know Magneto Had!
15 MAGNETIC FORCE FIELDS
This powerful utility has gone through several overhauls in the history of X-Men comics. Comic book readers got a glimpse of Magneto’s power right from the cover of X-Men Vol 1 #1. In that debut issue, the force field was more like a puzzle that the team of mutant heroes from Xavier’s School had to solve. Cyclops was able to blaze a hole in the force field with his powers.
Later issues and comic arcs made Magneto’s force field much more resilient. In X-Men 1 #113, Magneto gets baited into an ambush by all of the psionically linked main X-Men and still manages to use his force field to hold them off long enough to escape. It also withstood the volcano lair, in which the X-Men staged their ambush, flooding with magma. During Secret Wars, Magneto was able to project a force field so strong that it withstood an attack from Galactus, albeit briefly.
14 MAGNETIC FLIGHT
Magneto frequently uses his powers to propel himself through the air. Flight is one of those powers that often comes with the territory of supervillains and their penchant for dramatic entrances.
How exactly does Magneto accomplish it? Several different X-men and Marvel comics have offered various explanations. One of the more frequent explanations is that he uses his powers to interact with the Earth’s gravity field to glide and or repulse him in whichever direction he designs. This was apparently confirmed independently each by Apocalypse, Beast and Sinister when Apocalypse had influenced Mystique to be one of his horsemen. Apocalypse was attempting to replicate Magneto’s power in other mutants.
Some fans have surmised that Magneto achieves flight just by controlling the metal present in his armor, thus making him fly in the same way we humans drive a car. This was heavily implied by the visuals in the X-men films although never officially confirmed.
13 GEOMAGNETIC LINK TO THE EARTH
Thanks to Magneto’s X gene and his particular mutation, he has a constant tactile awareness of the Earth’s magnetic field. This means he’s always aware of the magnetic forces around him and can detect even very subtle changes in it. On a certain level, this trait is the root of all his powers. It lets him fly along the Earth’s magnetic fields and lets him release electromagnetic pulses that can affect the entire planet.
This attribute is so deeply ingrained in Magneto’s being that is has stayed with him even through some pretty grueling and strange events in the comics. Lilandra Neramani was the heir of the intergalactic Shi’ar royal family and a lover of Charles Xavier. At one point, Lilandra stripped Magneto of all his mutant powers. Somehow, despite that episode, his link to the Earth persisted. It could be a testament to the strength of Magneto’s particular mutation of the immutability of genetics over all.
12 GENIUS POLYGLOT AND LINGUIST
Magneto was born in Germany, so he’s naturally fluent in his first language of German. Yiddish was widely spoken by European Jews in the mid-20th century, and he’s also fluent in Hebrew. Over the course of his adventures he’s also grown fluent in English, French, Polish, Russian, Arabic and Ukrainian.
But his true linguistic genius was shown in the Defenders comics. In a previous issue, Thor and Vision had encased Magneto in a ball of energy and entombed him at the center of the earth. The perfectly aligned magnet forces were supposed to nullify his powers, preventing him from escaping, but the passing of a comet shifted the Earth’s magnetic field just enough for him to break free to a cavern. This cavern happened to be loaded with ancient alien libraries and artifacts.
All on his own, Magneto just sat down and read the alien writing and machinery. He was able to grow the supermutant Alpha and release him just as the X-Men discovered his escape.
11 GRAVITY MANIPULATION
Aside from making himself able to effectively fly, Magneto can manipulate the forces of gravity and magnetism for other objects and people. By creating a localized electromagnetic field with reversed polarity from the Earth’s he can levitate massive objects and even other powerful mutants.
Magneto has frequently suspended the X-Men in midair to stop them foiling his plans, even though the action wasn’t directly attributed to him being able to manipulate gravity sometimes. But there has been at least one instance where Magneto manipulated gravity directly to gain the upper hand.
In New Mutants 1 #35, Magneto takes over Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, at his friend Charles’ request, and starts a new training regimen to propel the mutants to the limits of their powers. Of course, Magneto has the new mutants fight him in the danger room. Towards the end of their first exercise, Wolfsbane manages to bite Magneto. Magneto repels Wolfsbane by reversing the gravity in the room and making him fall to the floor, then declares himself the winner of the first exercise.
10 MANIPULATING IRON BLOOD CONTENT
X2: X-Men United famously saw Magneto breaking out of his glass and plastic prison thanks to this power. Mystique was able to seduce and drug one of his guards and inject him with enough liquid iron that Magneto could detect and physically siphon it out of the helpless guard’s body.
Magneto has taken advantage of this organic metallic organic property in the comics as well. In Magneto: Dark Seduction #3, the Avengers crash the Genoshan Cabinet in Magneto’s nation of mutants. As the battle rages, Magneto arrives and reverses the blood flow in the Avengers team members by manipulating their iron blood content. All of the Avengers are near-immobilized with pain from the affects.
In a more similar fashion to the power displayed in the films, Magneto once magnetically ripped out the grafted Adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton in X-Men Fatal Attractions. Wolverine only survived the attack thanks to his prodigious healing factor.
9 CONTROLLING ORGANIC ELECTROMAGNETISM TO INDUCE MENTAL EFFECTS
Magneto isn’t limited to manipulating iron blood content to exert bodily control over his targets. Living organisms have plenty of electromagnetic chemistry in their bodies that he can manipulate. On several different occasions in the comics Magneto has used his powers to affect the neural chemistry of his targets to put them to sleep or knock them out entirely.
In the Uncanny X-Men comics series 1 #304, The X-Men were in attendance for the funeral of Illyana Rasputin. Her death was causing tensions to rise among Xavier’s students and Magneto’s acolyte followers, particularly her brother Colossus. Magneto as his acolytes crash the funeral. Not looking for a fight right now, Magneto freezes the X-men’s motor functions by controlling their neural conductivity with his recently bolstered powers. The X-Men could not move or access their powers in this state, so they watch helpless as Magneto declares his intent to save mutant kind.
8 GENIUS IN PRACTICAL GENETICS
As a firm believer in the superiority of mutants, Magneto has devoted a lot of time and effort into understanding genetics and mutation. Many of his genetic experiments have been for the purpose of pushing the powers of mutants further so that they may better survive and defend themselves.
When Magneto retreated to the Savage Lands in X-men series 1, he genetically altered the natives creating the Savage Land Mutates, who worshiped Magneto as The Creator. The Mutates boasted a variety of impressive powers and including the ability to regain their superhuman forms should they lose them.
Magneto was also able to genetically engineer the supermutant Alpha in the Defenders, using alien technology no less. He’s also managed to create artificial life and influence their genetic structure through conception and maturity, and create enhanced clones of human adults. He has even managed to grant superhuman powers to previously ordinary humans through genetic mutation.
7 ENGINEER OF WMDS
Through his mutation, Magneto has applied his exhaustive understanding of electromagnetism and physics to achieve feats of engineering far beyond the conventional understanding of science. Since he’s spent much of his life as a mutant terrorist, his contributions to the field of particle physics have been largely anonymous. Nevertheless, among the technically savvy heroes and villains in Marvel’s pantheon, Magneto is widely considered to be close to Tony Stark or Reed Richards in technical ingenuity.
Magneto has constructed doomsday machines designed to induce earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Throughout the comics, he has rapidly build a fully functional, fully outfitted space station called Asteroid M to serve as his Brotherhood’s base of operations. He’s also created fully automated underground bases with sophisticated computers that he assembled entirely himself. The X-Men: Earth’s Mutant Heroes collection of character profiles further details Magneto’s engineering feats. He was able to build a machine that could nullify other mutants’ powers within a radius of several miles.
6 CREATING WORMHOLES
This is arguably Magneto’s ultimate scientific achievement and another advancement he’ll never publically take credit for. Thanks to his mutation, Magneto’s deep understanding of electromagnetic and fundamental forces has allowed him to create stable, traversable wormholes.
In Excalibur and Avengers Disassembled, Magneto and Xavier are working together to rebuild the mutant nation of Genosha. While there’s intrigue and bonding happening in Genosha, there’s an attack on New York perpetuated by an evil imposter which puts Scarlet Witch in severe danger. Magneto was able to sense Wanda’s cry for help and conjured a wormhole between Genosha and New York to come directly to her aid. It is possible that Wanda’s own reality warping powers psychically helped Magneto with the wormhole, but it is still an impressive feat. Magneto was able to appear exactly where he wanted and he was able to maintain the wormhole long enough to take them both back though it safely to Genosha.
5 ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM MANIPULATION
Usually, Magneto’s powers are focused around electricity, metal and magnetism. But the scope of his powers includes access to and influence over the entire electromagnetic spectrum. In the comics, whenever Magneto musters the energy to take advantage of these powers, it’s extremely tiring for him. Still, he can manipulate everything from radio waves, microwaves and infrared to ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays.
In the Uncanny X-Men comics Magneto was able to generate heat as infrared radiation. In the Vision and Scarlet Witch miniseries Magneto goes searching for his long lost children by the woman Magda, under the guise of the White Pilgrim. Wanda and Pietro have taken refuge on the Moon with the Inhumans, so Magneto envelopes himself in a cone of his powers that lets him traverse airless space and renders him invisible.
In X-Men Volume 2 #86 two nuclear missiles are heading towards Magneto’s arctic base. He tries to stop them with his conventional powers but they have been programmed to detonate at the first sign of mutant power interference. Instead Magneto is forced to use his powers to reflect and divert the radiation from the nuclear blasts.
4 ELECTROMAGNETIC SIGHT
Besides being able to manipulate electromagnetic energy along the entire EM spectrum, Magneto has the power to visually perceive the world through more than the spectrum of visible light. This power has served him throughout his comic book career but it isn’t always explicitly mentioned. Magneto can perceive the electromagnetic aura’s given off by all living things. But he’s also capable of visualizing the electromagnetic forces surrounding much larger, inanimate objects, like entire planets.
When the United Nations Security Council saw the resurgent Magneto, they activated the specifically titled “Magneto Protocols”. This established a network of satellites above in low orbit, below his orbital base of Avalon, that would skew the Earth’s electromagnetic field and prevent Magneto from using his powers on Earth. In response, Magneto saw the electromagnetic arrangement of the satellite network and unleashed a planet-wide EMP. The satellites, and nearly every electronic device on Earth were disabled in minutes.
3 TELEPATHIC RESISTANCE
One of Magneto’s most notorious powers is his indomitable force of will and presence of mind. Since he’s been perpetually philosophically opposed to Charles Xavier, a powerful telepath, he’s had to develop a strong resistance to telepathic attacks. There is, of course, his cool and convenient helmet, but the helmet intrinsically granting its wearer with telepathic resistance is much more consistently used in the movies than the comics.
Magneto has used all kinds of means to develop telepathic resistance in the comics. In the case of his helmet, Magneto has used his powers on the helmet to make it immune to telepathy. He molds the helmet out of particular metals or gives it a particular magnetic resonance to block psychic energy. But Magneto has just as often demonstrated keen telepathic resistance without the helmet. In the Uncanny X-Men comics, Magneto was able to mount such a firm mental block while meditating that even Emma Frost couldn’t read his mind while attempting to do so right in front of him.
2 ASTRAL PROJECTION
Magneto’s considerable mental power has been used for more than just resisting telepathy directed against him. In some instances he’s been able to use his electromagnetic powers or maybe even latent psychic powers to reach out to other people’s minds.
Magneto was even able to send out astral projections of himself in his earlier comic appearances. In X-Men 1 #6 Magneto and Xavier each discover the Submariner and try to ascertain if he’s a mutant or not. Magneto sends an astral projection of himself to the Atlantean kingdom and tries to get Submariner’s followers to turn on him.
Magneto’s capacity for astral projection went largely untapped until the X-Men: The Hidden Years series. After getting bested by the X-men in the Savage Lands, Magneto falls through the Earth under collapsing machinery to a subterranean river. He washes ashore and has the idea to conjure an astral projection of himself to the Nhu’ghari. They fall for his trick that his astral form is the ghost of his murdered self and swear to avenge him against the X-Men.
1 WIELDING THOR'S HAMMER
Marvel fans have wondered for decades about the possibility of Magneto controlling Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. In Ultimates 3 #5, we finally got to see at least one instance of what that might look like. When the Ultimate Avengers battle Magneto, Ultron, and the latter's army of robotic superhero doppelgangers, Thor drops his hammer into a crevice. At that point Magneto was fueled with vengeance over the deaths of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. He is able to draw the hammer to him by manipulating the iron forged into it in the Ultimate universe.
Magneto doesn’t keep the hammer for long. He did wield it long enough unleash a devastating flood on New York, killing most of the inhabitants and separating the Ultimates. He wielded the hammer when the Ultimates, led by Captain America, regrouped and confronted Magneto at his Citadel. When the X-Men joined the fight too, Cyclops finally did Magneto in and Valkyrie took Mjolnir back.
Were there any other abilities or demonstrations of unique powers Magneto has that we missed? Let us know in the comments!