Magneto is one of the most fearsome and complex villains in the Marvel Comics universe, so fans are excited for him to join the MCU alongside his enemies, the X-Men, in a few years’ time when Kevin Feige can figure out a way to integrate them. It was reported recently that Marvel might be looking at people of color for the roles of Professor X and Magneto.
It could just be a rumor, but the X-Men stories are allegories about marginalized groups and being an outcast in society, so casting people of color actually would make sense, especially in today’s social climate. Here are 10 Actors Who Could Play The MCU’s Magneto.
10 Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes is one of the world’s best actors for playing villains. He’s played real-world villains like the ruthless Nazi officer in Schindler’s List, but he’s also played bad guys in the sci-fi/fantasy realm that X-Men occupies, with his unforgettable turn as Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise.
Fiennes has been really fun and likable in movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Lego Batman Movie, but more often than not, he’s playing a sinister villain, and he’s playing them really well. In Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, Fiennes played a villain, but with the sharp comedic sense, he’d honed from roles like M. Gustave. In short, he’d make a fantastic Magneto.
9 Giancarlo Esposito
This Breaking Bad star has been a popular fan casting choice for Magneto since it was reported that Marvel is looking to cast an actor of color in the role. This rumor has proven controversial with some fans since Magneto is a European Jewish kid and a Holocaust survivor in the comics.
However, the MCU’s version doesn’t need to follow this exactly. He could be the same character with some tweaks. Some fans have suggested Magneto being a survivor of the Rwandan genocide to give him a similar backstory. As his cold, calculated, terrifying portrayal of Gus Fring has shown, Giancarlo Esposito would make a great Magneto.
8 Willem Dafoe
He might have a role over in the DC Extended Universe, but if Willem Dafoe would be willing to do a reverse Zachary Levi and jump from a small role in the DCEU to a large role in the MCU, he would make a great Magneto.
It wouldn’t be the first time this notoriously spooky actor played a Marvel Comics villain, since he played the Green Goblin in Tobey Maguire’s first Spider-Man movie, but he did an incredible job. What was striking about his turn as Norman Osborn is that he managed to be scarier without the mask on than with it.
7 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
If Marvel plans to cast a younger Magneto in the vein of Michael Fassbender’s portrayal in the later incarnation of Fox’s X-Men film franchise, then Nikolai Coster-Waldau could be an exciting pick. He’s just spent seven years playing Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, showing he can play a character you’re not sure if you love or hate in a long-term narrative.
Jaime flits between hero and villain with a murky moral code, just like Magneto. Plus, Coster-Waldau is from Denmark, which was neutral in World War II before being occupied by Germany, so there would be an interesting dynamic with the historical context.
6 Cillian Murphy
Magneto should be played by an incredible actor who can also bring a degree of creepiness to the character. When he enters the room, we should become unnerved and scared of what might happen next. This happened with Thanos, but Magneto is a different character than Thanos.
Whereas Thanos was calm and collected and let his power speak for itself, Magneto strikes fear into his opponents with his unpredictability, which should be able to be conveyed with a single facial expression. Time and time again, Cillian Murphy has played creepy characters with violent tendencies – Tommy Shelby, the Scarecrow, the shellshocked soldier in Dunkirk, etc. – proving he’d make a great Magneto.
5 Javier Bardem
Whether the MCU wants the characterize Magneto as a straightforward villain that the X-Men are fully aware can’t be trusted or a sometime ally that dips in and out of being a good guy, Javier Bardem could play both.
He played a charismatic guy who seemed nice until he turned out to be an evil cult leader in Darren Aronofsky’s underrated, if very strange mother!, while he played a classic, snarling, horrific villain in the James Bond movie Skyfall. His character’s plan was dumb in that movie, but in his performance as Raoul Silva, he made for an unforgettable Bond villain.
4 Charles Dance
The second actor from Game of Thrones to be featured on this list, fanboy favorite Charles Dance would make a fantastic older Magneto. If Marvel is going to stick with Magneto being a Holocaust survivor, then he’s going to be pretty old.
Dance is an actor who can appear convincingly old enough (despite being born one year after the end of World War II) and also play a menacing and intimidating role, as shown by his GoT character Tywin Lannister, who couldn’t be trusted from day one, and yet managed to use his power, influence, and charm to win people’s trust.
3 Mark Strong
The last time Mark Strong played a comic book villain, it didn’t go so well. He played Sinestro in the disastrous Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds and was involved in an unfounded sequel setup at the end of the film. But that wasn’t Strong’s fault. That movie had terrible direction and an even worse script, and it reeked of studio interference.
Strong is a fantastic actor who has proven particularly adept at playing villains, so he deserves a second chance at bringing an iconic super-baddie to the big screen, and Magneto might be the perfect choice for such a role.
2 Idris Elba
It’s a shame that the MCU wasted Idris Elba in the role of Heimdall (well, it’s not Heimdall that’s the problem – he’s also a great element that the MCU wasted) because he would make a fantastic Magneto.
He did the mustache-twirling villain type when he played Shere Khan in The Jungle Book remake, but his wider body of work (The Wire, Luther, Beasts of No Nation) has proven he can do more nuanced work with that. Surely suitability for the role should win out. It’s more important that Elba would make a brilliant Magneto than maintaining continuity within the MCU’s gargantuan cast.
1 Christoph Waltz
Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender have both played Magneto with a British accent, but in the comics, Erik Lehnsherr was born to a German Jewish family. Christoph Waltz could play the character with an accent for the first time on the screen. It would be interesting to see a guy who made his name in Hollywood playing an S.S. colonel play a superpowered Holocaust survivor.
He’s a two-time Academy Award winner who has drawn unforgettable characters in the films of Quentin Tarantino. In Inglorious Basterds, he proved that he can play a menacing, cold-blooded villain who terrifies people when he walks into a room. This is the kind of ominous, suspenseful presence that Magneto needs.