Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Marvel Comics: Magneto

Go To

WARNING: There are unmarked spoilers on this sheet for all but the most recent comics.

Max Eisenhardt / Magneto
The Master of Magnetism

Notable Aliases: Auschwitz I.D. #24005 (retcon from #214782), "The Creator", Eric Lensher, Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, Erik the Red, Grey King, King Erik Magnus, the Leader, Magnus, Master (by Toad), Master of Magnetism, Merciless Magneto, Michael Xavier, Miraculous Magneto, Mr. Sullivan, Phantom Saboteur, "Red," White King, White Pilgrim

Nationality: German, Genoshan, Krakoan

Species: Human Mutant

First Appearance: X-Men #1 (July, 1963)

"I have been known by many names. Max Eisenhardt. Erik Lensherr. Magnus. Magneto. Each name marks its own sin, and one day I will answer for those offenses. But not today. Only my actions... what I do in the name of all mutants... hold any real meaning."
Magneto, Magneto Vol. 3 #1

The Master of Magnetism. Leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants. Defined and Shaped by the Holocaust. Professor X's Greatest Opposite.

The Super Supremacist.

Magneto is a character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics, commonly in association with the X-Men. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in The X-Men #1 (September 1963) as the Arch-Enemy of the X-Men.

The story of his life, however, begins rather earlier — a Jew, he was born in Weimar Republic Germany in the late 1920s before moving to Poland with his parents in 1939... and you can venture a guess as to the end result of that. As a young man, he witnessed and endured some of the very worst of what humanity had to offer. His family was murdered when he was just a boy, and dumped in a mass grave before his very eyes; soon after, he was himself sent to Auschwitz, where as a Sonderkommando he was forced, on pain of death, to mete out that same fate to thousands of other innocents at gunpoint, running their gas chambers and furnaces. Lame with hepatitis, all hope and reason crushed under the mad Nazi jackboot, he was ready to admit that so many times he was tempted to resign himself to his black fate.

But if Max Eisenhardt was anything, he was a survivor.

The one good thing he remembered from those years was his darling love, Magda, a Romani girl interned with him, and during the October 7 revolt in 1944 the pair managed to make their escape. They fled to Ukraine and lived out the remainder of the war and its aftermath in relative peace with her family, and Magda bore them a daughter, Anya. They were happy together, though he hid from his wife a great secret he was only just uncovering himself — he was a mutant, born with the power to manipulate magnetic fields and master the entire electro-magnetic spectrum.

Their peaceful life was not to last. While they lived in the then-Soviet/now-Western Ukranian city of Vinnitsa (alas, the Romani lifestyle did not suit him), he was cheated out of his pay by his employer and, in anger, used his powers consciously for the first time by throwing a crowbar at him through sheer will alone. In retaliation, driven on by fear of what they could not understand, the people of Vinnitsa formed a mob and burned down the inn where Magda, Anya, and he were living. When he saw his daughter's burning body fall out of her room, prevented from helping her by KGB agents who held him down and battered him repeatedly, he did not take it well. He unleashed the fury of his newfound powers, killing the thugs who held him down, the mob who killed his daughter, and tearing a chunk of their city to the ground. Magda survived, but his power, and his temporary insanity, terrified her into fleeing, leaving him alone to bury their daughter (and when Soviet troops attempted to stop him from doing so, he turned their guns on them and pulled their triggers).

It would be decades before he found out that Magda had been pregnant when she fled. He never saw her again, for she died shortly after giving birth. His last memory of his wife is of her screaming in horror and terror at him.

With pain and anguish and the torment, he fled Europe, and began traveling, eventually making his way to Israel where he did volunteer work in a psychiatric hospital for Holocaust survivors, those who were overwhelmed by the sheer barbarity of it all. Another volunteer at that hospital was a young American named Charles Xavier, and he was destined to be his best friend and greatest enemy. He and Charles discussed many things, foremost amongst them the subject of mutantkind's coexistence with the rest of humanity and the consequences humanity faced with the rise of mutants, though neither revealed to the other that they were mutants.

He saw once and for all that Charles' views and his were incompatible once they were drawn into battle with the Nebulous Evil Organization known as HYDRA, who had abducted their friend Gabrielle Haller because she knew the location of a hoard of Nazi Gold. They both revealed their powers that day and overpowered the HYDRA agents, Xavier with his boundless telepathic might and Erik with his ever-growing mastery over the forces of magnetism. Following the battle, Erik, realizing that his and Xavier's views were incompatible, took the gold for himself and left.

The final nail in the coffin was when he worked for a Western intelligence agency, tasked with hunting down Nazi war criminals while maintaining his cover as a Double Agent for Mossad, and handing them over to Israel for trial. He had fallen in love again with a woman named Isabelle, but his Western masters — who had been well aware of what he was up to, but had up to now condoned it — decided that his latest capture, Hans Richter, was too valuable to surrender to his fate. They recruited him and murdered Isabelle right in front of his eyes, for which he hunted down each one of his controllers and paid them in kind.

In the face of ever growing anti-mutant persecution, he remade himself as Magneto, a living example of mutant superiority, of mutant existence, so as to make a statement that mutants no longer had to hide in the shadows. He declared war on humankind, because he concluded that force was the only thing humans understood, and the only thing that would save mutants from an identical fate. Xavier, now wheelchair-bound, made clear he opposed his plans, and he clashed time and time again with his band of mutant heroes, the X-Men. They thwarted plan after plan, and battled him and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, amongst whom were two bitter young mutant twins called the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver — whom he later learned were Wanda and Pietro, his children by Magda, though unfortunately for him only after his radical ways had proceeded to alienate them from one another. He later found himself leading a second supervillain team, the Acolytes of Magneto who not only believed in his cause of mutant supremacy but went so far as to worship him as a divine mutant messiah.

In the face of endless opposition, from his own kind and his own children, as well as non-mutant superhumans such as The Avengers, who accepted Wanda and Pietro into their ranks, he learned to soften his stance somewhat. He has even joined the X-Men himself from time to time, and worked with them to combat greater mutual menaces. But he still stands by his most core belief. He has seen the lowest depths of human evil; he may have dragged himself from the abyss of his own hypocrisy, but though he is no longer as bent on genocide and domination does not mean for him that mutants are safe. The safety and well-being of his people are of paramount importance, and be assured, he is prepared to do anything to ensure their survival and prosperity, and to avert the repetition of history which would see mutantkind consigned to the death camps.

Because if Magneto lives by any creed, it is this: Never. Again.

Read in his own voice here.

Magneto has appeared in:

Comic Books



Video Games

Western Animation

    open/close all folders 

Magneto provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: A good chunk of X-Men: Blue is dedicated to Magneto deciding there's no point in trying to reform, and turning into a vicious bastard ready to Do What's Necessary... this was promptly ignored faster than a speeding bullet.
  • Above Good and Evil: In Not A Hero, he tells his genetic twin that there are no heroes or villains; there is only what he wants and how he'll get it.
  • The Ace: Not only is Max a powerful Omega level mutant, but he’s also a brilliant tactician, leader, scientist and engineer.
  • Affably Evil: In some portrayals, Depending on the Writer, he is a gentleman in his pursuit of mutant freedom and is genuinely cordial and polite, even to enemies, and sincerely sees Charles as a friend.
  • Ambiguously Jewish:
    • His status as a Holocaust survivor is integral to his character and backstory, but which of the peoples persecuted he belonged to was not always openly stated. Even once he was specified as culturally Jewish, on a few occasions he is shown to still believe in God, but it's never made clear if he is a practicing Jew. Whenever he references scripture, it is usually the gospels - though that could just be a case of his being widely read and using more familiar (and to his mind, ironic) quotations. He shaves, though no one knows how. And in X-Men (2019), he eats steak and bacon, though there are Jews who eat such products, especially in the US.
    • In the comics, at one point, Marvel at one point retconned his ethnic status away while they were preparing for one of his more vicious phases, afraid that such a villain being Jewish would seem anti-Semitic and cause problems. Naturally, no one wondered if it was anti-mutant. And if you're wondering what they changed him to, it was to a Sinte, a Romani subgroup. It was a rather disingenuous move given their motivations.
  • Angry White Man: It depends on the version. One can of course apply this to the entire X-Men Mutant Metaphor, but Magneto in particular is, after all, outwardly a handsome white man who claims to represent all mutants unlike the X-Men (led by the disabled Professor X) and the Morlocks (who cannot "pass" as human unlike Magneto and Professor X) and makes little to no attempts to build consensus or build something that can appeal to people who do not agree with him.
    • On the other hand... the main version is a Jew who survived Auschwitz. He's spent most of the last decade as a member of the X-Men, albeit usually of the more ruthless variety — certainly, he's stopped bothering with attempts at global conquest. And he has actively attempted to create sanctuaries for mutants before, on a small scale on Asteroid M/Avalon, then on a larger scale in the Savage Land and Genosha, the latter of which took mutants of all varieties. While each of them were destroyed by Mutants (the former crashed after a brutal duel between Holocaust and Exodus, the Savage Land was a bust, and Genosha was wiped out by Cassandra Nova), the latter used Wild Sentinels, technology created by humans to slaughter mutants, to pull it off. And when one considers the countless generations of Sentinels, and the various groups that have actively tried to wipe mutants out... well, there's a reason that he's one of the more popular Marvel villains. You can see where he's coming from.
  • Antagonist Abilities: Whilst he would scoff at the mere idea of "fighting fair" (in his defence, the X-Men and his other enemies hardly agree to battle him one-on-one), his mastery of magnetism gives him a number of abilities which opponents have trouble circumventing:
    • First of all, there is the gift of Flight, and his ability to stay well out of reach of brutish attackers like the brash Logan.
    • Secondly, he is able to place Deflector Shields and other barriers around him to protect even from long-distance attacks.
    • Thirdly, his magnetism can act as an Area of Effect that does not even require conscious aiming or precision, although this is rather taxing for him.
    • He has demonstrated (once) the ability to perform Villain Teleportation, if the need requires. No one's entirely sure how he did it, not even In-Universe, but he managed it.
    • He can use any of the many objects in his vicinity as Flying Weapons to keep his opponents busy and distract them as he completes his objectives.
    • If there is sufficient iron (or other metals) in their bodies, he can manipulate others like People Puppets — Wolverine and Colossus are, for obvious reasons, the most prominent victims of this. However, this was done to a truly ludicrous degree in a Spider-Man comic, where he was able to make an electromagnet pull Spidey to it, with Spidey attributing it to pulling at the "metallic salts" in his body. Realistically, if this could even be done, it would almost certainly kill the victim by ripping the salts out of their body (though Spidey did have the Captain Universe power at the time, even if he didn't know it).
    • When damaged, he can magnetically seal his wounds and reduce damage to prevent blood loss.
    • Due to the human mind relying upon electromagnetic synapses and other similar functions, he has been known to dabble in Mind Manipulation when given sufficient cause.
    • Related to this, he also has a limited version of Psychic Block Defense — it's stated to be stronger than the average person's, but not strong enough to keep a strong telepath (like, say, his arch-enemy Charles Xavier) out. His shiny metal helmet provides an even greater level of this power, sufficient to rebuff even Charles.
    • And last but certainly not least, being the Master of Magnetism makes him effectively able to shape reality to his very whim.
  • Anti-Hero: Regardless of whether he fights against or with the X-Men, he never hesitated to give scumbags exactly what they deserve.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • One that has started many an argument of varying maturity. To some, he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist supremacist mass-murdering terrorist demagogue, with occasional outright genocidal ambitions; alternately, some people still root for the Brotherhood despite their muddled blood, weep for Magneto's cause, or have contempt for his position in life, and Depending on the Writer, his ideals can be portrayed as rightfully accorded because he lives in a Crapsack World where all of humanity are persecuting scum who have it coming... which again, is all Depending on the Writer.
    • Of course, this all depends on whether or not he's slid up the scale to Anti-Hero, a position he's occupied since the 2010s. For his part, he's outright stated that he doesn't give a damn what people call him — all that matters is what he wants (the protection of mutantkind) and how he'll get it (by pretty much any means necessary).
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • The X-Men in general; Charles Xavier in particular... although he doesn't take it personally.
    • If not Charles, then the Red Skull. As much as he battles the X-Men, they are ultimately a Friendly Enemy he would much rather join forces with (and frequently has), but the Skull is by far the one being alive that he despises more than anyone. He symbolizes everything he detests, and he would gladly crush his throat with his bare hands if not for the fact that, for Magneto, such a death would be too kind for such Nazi scum.
  • The Artifact: Yes, World War II was 70 years ago. Age is but a number, he's still a paragon of power. (Plus, he's been de-aged a couple of times.)
  • Artistic License – Physics: Writers play around with the moniker of "Master of Magnetism" to the point that very little of what he can accomplish has anything to do with magnetism. The general consensus nowadays is that he's actually manipulating electromagnetism (which is one of the fundamental forces of the universe, and goes a long way to explaining how powerful he isnote ).
  • Astral Projection: He used to be able to do this, despite not having any Psychic Powers of his own — though perhaps it is merely that, though he does have psychic powers, he prefers to use his magnetism. Whatever the case, these days it is one of those things that is quietly ignored. The exception being John Byrne, who brought it back a little sometime around the early 2000s, but after that, it has pretty much been dropped.
  • The Atoner:
    • He has repeatedly attempted to atone for his misdeeds, a result of his status as the main villain with good aims adversary to Charles and his X-Men. During two of his atonement phases, he even joined them, as he has for the last decade. This time, it looks like sticking, even if he does fall into the Good is Not Nice/Pragmatic Hero category.
    • In an alternate universe, he had made a deal with an entity from another universe hoping to give mutants a fighting chance, but he soon learned to his horror that he had brought a deadly virus to Earth, and he devoted the remainder of his life in that universe to save as many people, human AND mutant, as he could from the monsters that were once heroes.
  • Ax-Crazy: He's been known to lose it here and there, though since the Claremont days, this behavior has been written off as a tragic consequence of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, though the trauma from his teen years spent as a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz and abandonment issues tied to his wife running out on him moments after the death of his first child certainly didn't help his mental matters.
  • Badass Boast: He's given quite a few throughout his career as a mutant terrorist/revolutionary, almost all of them immediately backed up. One in particular when he revealed his identity while trapped in an underground mutant fighting club orchestrated by gangsters & corrupt power brokers in Hong Kong, China. Upon the revelation, the crowd's expressions changed from cruel enjoyment one minute to wide-eyed terror the next. He even lampshades it.
    Magneto: Some of you might have realised who I am. If so... then I suggest you warn the others. Because anyone who is still here in five minutes, will die SCREAMING MY NAME.
    • Gives a couple during the Magneto: Not A Hero miniseries, both to the resurrected Joseph, after the latter tries to needle him about his Heel–Face Turn.
      Magneto: You're foolish to think that because I have changed the methods in which I plan to achieve my goals that I am any less powerful. You can float around out here, wear my clothes, and be worshipped by that broken woman, pretending to be me. But don't forget... you're nothing but my clone.
      Magneto: *immediately post thrashing Joseph, who tries to give him a Breaking Speech* The thing that none of you will ever understand is that there are no sides. There's no heroes or villains. There's just what I want and how I'll get it.
    • Sometimes people do it on his behalf.
      Gambit: How do you outnumber Magneto?
    • In the original Secret Wars (1984), he calmly tells the gathered heroes that he is more powerful than any of them, with the possible exception of The Mighty Thor. No one argues the point.
    • And even earlier than that, from the early days:
      Magneto: Men call me power!
  • Bad Boss: In many ways, this can be considered to be his Fatal Flaw. While his goals (at least post-Claremont Character Development) are noble and his means are, if not condonable, at least understandable, the ways he treats those who follow him have always been... well, bad. As an unrepentant Card-Carrying Villain in the Silver Age, it is unsurprising to see Mags mercilessly bullying and demeaning minions such as Mastermind and the Toad, but even during the Claremont era when he was trying to reform, Mags had a somewhat cavalier attitude about the students under his charge, ultimately abandoning them for a failed bid to steer the Hellfire Club's wealth and resources towards pro-mutant agendas. Later followers like the Acolytes were treated little better, and just as recently as 2016, he delivered a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Exodus, his most loyal follower ever - though, granted, he had excellent reason to be pissed Exodus for what he'd done in Magneto's name. As the Cullen Bunn Magneto run demonstrates in multiple instances, Mags just can not stop himself from treating (and seeing) his followers as "underlings" more than people, to be bent and used and thrown away at his discretion.
  • Barrier Warrior: He can raise electromagnetic barriers, with varying degrees of "electro-" and "-magnetic."
  • Becoming the Mask: In Resurrection of Magneto #3 an enemy calls him by among others Erik, Max and Magneto. He is then asked "What is the name in your heart". His answer is Magneto.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not even THINK the words "Just Following Orders" in his presence.
    • And the same goes for "for the Greater Good".
  • Beware the Superman: The creed he lives and breathes every day he wakes. Humans are a persistent stain on the Earth and it is up to mutantkind to rinse it off. Metahumans should be feared and respected for their superiority and he will see it done.
  • Big Bad: Formerly, the chief antagonist of the X-Men. They have since found more common ground.
  • Big Good: Magneto has become the chief mentor of the time-displaced X-Men, who came from an era where he tried to kill them every other week. Both sides are entirely aware of the irony.
  • Blatant Lies: Magneto, a man who has spent decades locked in fruitless battle against his fellow mutants and witnessed the Genocide from the Inside actions of insane mutants such as Stryfe and Onslaught, has the gall to tell a group of human officials that mutants have never made war on each other in the House of X event. Granted, he could be talking about a status of war between mutant nations, which is technically true - if rather beside the point. It also becomes almost immediately incorrect after X of Swords.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Years after discovering his mutant powers, he studied magnetism in depth, along with many other different scientific fields, in order to perfect his gift.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good:
    • When he was de-aged by Alpha, Xavier entrusted his infant self to Moira MacTaggert who did this to him without anyone knowing by messing with his genetic structure, thinking his power caused him to be mentally unstable. As it transpired, it hadn't actually worked. At all.
    • Of course, he also made use of this, once making Mastermind bury a young Lorna's traumatic memory of killing her mother with her newly activated powers.
  • Broken Pedestal: Suffice to say, some of his Acolytes were couldn't bear to even look at him when he lost his powers on M-Day. Joanna Cargill a.k.a. Frenzy, formerly his right-hand woman, particularly so.
  • Brought Down to Badass: There have been times where he had to make do without his powers, for one reason or another. They do nothing to slow his effectiveness, however, as Joanna Cargill (and her eyes) can attest, as he is still extremely intelligent and charismatic in addition to being ripped as hell and a very skilled combatant who was tough enough to survive Auschwitz.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Ruthie sees butterflies right before she and her family are captured and executed by Nazis.
  • Byronic Hero: He's driven to the things he does only because he believes that his people need someone willing to stand up and fight for their rights in the face of a world that will always hate and fear them. If this causes him to engage in behaviour that would not be considered "heroic" from a human perspective, then so be it.
  • The Caligula: Depending on the Writer. Back in the Stan Lee comics, Magneto was simply capricious and domineering because that was expected of a villain. However, he really looks very bad when you take those old comics seriously — especially considering his treatment of the Brotherhood, with constant death threats, physical "discipline", and demands for the "fear" and "blind obedience" of his terrified followers. In later years, many writers tend to ignore this, but other stories looking back to that period have his ex-compatriots reacting realistically to the abuse, showing that (for example) Scarlet Witch still suffers from what amounts to post-traumatic stress disorder years later due to the way he treated her while she was his minion.
    Wanda: His notions of kindness and benevolence were repulsive. Whenever I wavered in my loyalty for a heartbeat; whenever I toyed with the notion of leaving his service, he would... find a way to hold on to me. Tightly.

    Considerable time has passed since then. I have grown stronger. Come to terms with much of what once frightened me. But never have I been more terrified than at the feet of the man who could kill me with a thought.

    Around him I was fragile. Vulnerable. I cannot be certain... that I will not be again.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: When he adopts such a moniker, it is partly out of a sense of irony. Largely, however, it is because he does not care to waste time answering to homo sapiens' moral standards, such as when he named his organization the Brotherhood of "Evil" Mutants. If they will call his kind "Evil Mutants" regardless, then his Brotherhood and he will embrace the term and live up to it.
  • The Casanova: Not as much as others, but for a guy on the far side of 80, he's got game. (It probably helps that thanks to multiple deaging incidents, he doesn't look it.) He's generally fairly attractive to women and famously came on to The Wasp during Secret Wars (1984) (who later wryly refers to him as an "ex-boyfriend"), and he's had at least two children and possibly as many as five. No one was really sure about Zaladane, and the twins' situation is up in the air, probably thanks to Wanda's Reality Warper powers - per The Trial of Magneto, it's implied that Cerebro did pick them up as mutants a long time ago and made back-ups, while Wanda is at least spiritually Magneto's daughter, enough for it to be magically significant. And that's just the main version. Many of his lovers have been regular humans who still started a relationship with him despite knowing he's a misanthropic mutant terrorist and supremacist.
  • The Charmer: A major reason for his following and devotion he encourages is that Magneto is very charismatic and skilled at convincing others to follow him, a skill helped by how often he makes genuinely good arguments.
  • Chew Toy: It would appear that the universe at large may have a thing against mutants as mankind does.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Pre-character development Magneto would use and betray everyone and anyone at the drop of a hat, even when there's nothing to be gained from it.
  • Cool Helmet: One that protects him from psychic intrusions as well.
  • Cult of Personality: This, along with Asskicking Leads to Leadership, is the main reason why the mutant community still keeps looking to him for leadership despite his spotty track record. Much like real life examples of this trope, Magneto is described as an extremely charismatic individual who mutants in particular revere with a near-religious fervor (his Acolytes even worshiped him as a god outright).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Usually, he is the one handing them out. But when he faced the Stranger, he quite convincingly turned the tables on him.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Oddly enough, with the United States government and Russia. Magneto's attacks have made the two governments despise him and build various projects solely for the purposes of killing him. This results in Magneto attacking them even harder, which results in a general decay of mutant-human relations overall. Professor Xavier used to have decent ties with the government until he protected Magneto from their wrath a couple of times.
  • Dark Messiah:
    • He will use any means necessary to protect mutantkind (it used to be 'ensure that they ruled the world', but he's since settled for protecting them). Any. His people have even considered him their "Mutant Messiah", in contrast to Charles' approach.
    • Prior to the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, he has bequeathed the role to Scott 'General of the Mutants' Summers, as he alone is responsible for the plans that first preserved mutantkind, then brought back them from the brink. It is not often that even he is impressed.
    • Notably, Magneto's status as a Good is Not Nice Messianic Archetype for his mutant followers has a bit of Truth in Television; Jews generally don't accept Jesus Christ as the prophesied Messiah because of the fact that he was a peaceful preacher and teacher when the Jewish authorities and priests of the time were expecting a great liberator who would free them from the yoke of the Roman occupation of Judaea by force, and that disconnect has trickled down into certain orthodox Jewish denominations in the modern day. As a Jewish man who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust, Magneto is effectively trying to be for mutants what the prophesied Messiah of antiquity was supposed to be from the Jewish perspective, as opposed to Charles Xavier's more conventional Messianic Archetype through education and socially progressive policies that encourage co-existence with Homo Sapiens even if they'll ever truly accept Homo Superior entirely.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Depending on the Writer in the comics; his incarnation in the live action films is very much this trope.
  • Death Is Cheap: Magneto's been through the revolving door of Mutant Heaven more than once. X-Men vol 2. issue 3 ends with him supposedly being Killed Off for Real, but that was 1993. And then there was the destruction of Genosha. Not to mention that time he died in the Final Incursion.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • In older works: is he an Anti-Villain with sympathetic aims, a leader with extreme methods toward a golden age for mutants, or a completely psychotic madman who will strike down ANYONE who gets in his way? It depends on what interpretation one thinks holds the most water, though these days, it's generally the former, with Magneto see-sawing between Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain.
    • How reliant he is on his helmet to resist telepathy tends to depend on whether the writer remembers (or chooses to remember) that he has telepathic talents of his own. Ever since the X-Men, the helmet does all the work, Juggernaut style.
    • Whether or not his powers extend to Thor's Mjolnir has also widely varied. At times he's written as unable, yet on other occasions he is more than capable of it.
  • Depower: At the end of House of M. It took a few years before he got re-powered.
  • Determinator: Nothing less could withstand the barbarity of the Holocaust.
  • Domestic Abuse: His treatment of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and perhaps Scarlet Witch in particular, with everything from threats to Gaslighting to outright physical violence, with a subtext of sexual abuse. It's to the point that those comics can be potentially uncomfortable for some readers today, with him manipulating the psychologically fragile Witch like a cult leader or abusive husband, alternating threats and promises and constantly reminding her of how he saved her from the horrible humans, so now she must show him "blind obedience" in all things. Given that many fans (and writers) are used to a Magneto who is more of a Noble Demon, this is not usually played up more recently, and usually overlooked, as with the behaviour of other characters that would be seen as OOC, as a sort of meta version of the old 'it was a Doombot' excuse — that said, 'usually' is not 'invariably'. There are also stories that delve into that era. One, told from the Witch's point of view, is both heartbreaking and terrifying.
    The terror of remembrance knives through her. She has suffered abuse at his hands so many—

  • Doting Grandparent: Even if she is (initially) powerless, lamentably so for him, he will not allow any to harm his granddaughter Luna. Indeed, he once swore he would rather die than allow her to suffer a moment's grief.
  • Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us: This was one of his main rationales in his war on humanity, and one of the main sticking points in his philosophical differences with Charles: He must strike at humans before they do mutants harm. Now, he's mellowed somewhat. Or to be exact, he's much more discerning when it comes to his targets.
  • The Dreaded: Magneto is widely feared, especially by humans, due to his extraordinary power and his intellect and charismatic personality as well as his sheer ruthlessness in achieving his goals. Even other super villains are wary of getting on his bad side.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • That Magneto had been a Holocaust survivor wasn't part of his backstory until Chris Claremont wrote him in the '80s, a good couple of decades after his debut. In the early Stan Lee-Jack Kirby run, Magneto was more or less a mustache-twirling villain without any benevolent attributes, Gaslighting his own subordinates, exploiting his own children as pawns, with retroactively out-of-character moments such as leading a Nazi-styled invasion of San Marco.
    • The fact that he had some degree of Psychic Powers in the same time frame. He meets with Xavier on the astral plane and he hypnotically compels Warren's parents to go to bed. Later stories vaguely allude to those abilities by explaining he uses magnetism and blood iron manipulation to do so. The X-Men vs. Avengers mini-series revealed that his helmet also had special circuitry that gave him Mind Control abilities, perhaps retroactively explaining some of those weird Silver Age moments.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • He has had to side with Charles and his X-Men when the need arises. Said forced team-ups may have also been the result of another entity playing a game.
    • On another occasion, he worked with several of the Marvel Universe's most despicable villains, including the Red Skull, in what was colloquially referred to as the "Acts of Vengeance", in an attempt to destroy the "heroes" who constantly interfered with their plans, through he and the other participants in the plot were manipulated by Loki the trickster god, and Magneto used the team-up as an opportunity to trap the Red Skull in a ditch with no food or water whatsoever.
  • Epic Fail: Few of Magneto's supporters remember that back in the late 90's he got exactly what he always wanted when the U.N. allowed him to take control of the island nation Genosha, a former anti-mutant slavery/apartheid state that had been crippled by the downfall of the previous regime and years of civil war. With this, Magneto was given a real opportunity to found the mutant sanctuary nation he always spoke of, a population of millions of mutants to build it back up to greatness, and a land said to be rich in natural resources. What did Magneto do with this fledgling mutant nation? Ran it straight into the ground. Months and even years after taking control of Genosha the island's capital city was still in ruins every time the X-Men came to visit, with the only difference being opulent new buildings Magneto raised up to rule from. He also completely failed to teach his citizens to protect themselves in any way, to the point where when Cassandra Nova sent a Sentinel to the island nation, all 16 million of its mutants were eradicated in minutes. Strangely, this abject failure on Magneto's part seems to have been forgotten completely, and both in-universe and out he is still regarded as a potential mutant savior who just needs the right promised land to lead his people into (again).
  • Episode Zero: The Beginning: Magneto #0 was an origin story that has since been superseded by Magneto Testament.
  • Ethnicity Monarch: In several stories, Magneto is appointed to the position of head of state of some sort of nation or base that becomes an autonomous mutant state. In particular, within the story House of M, is first declared the ruler of the mutant state of Genosha, but after a brief war against the United States, expands his territory until he has become King of Earth, and primary defender of mutantkind.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
  • Evil Genius: He is amongst the many geniuses of the world, specializing in Magnetism (obviously) and Physics in general as well as having a keen knowledge of Genetic Engineering, Engineering in itself, Geology, and other sciences, with some of his technology being compared favourably to the work of Tony Stark and Reed Richards. He's also very much multilingual, even being able to decipher a long-lost language and having reconstructed advanced computer devices from memory. As expected from his leadership, he is also a talented strategist and an outstanding public speaker, a requirement in his war on humanity. He is also quite the connoisseur of the fine arts and finest literature and an excellent chef, admitting that Homo sapiens have made at least some worthwhile contributions to life. To others, his ability to manipulate the lessers amongst mankind is paramount.
  • Evil Is Petty: During one of his more "unstable" periods, when he regained his youth and vitality but before he regained his composure and focus, he used his command of magnetism to make Wolverine punch himself in the face.
  • Evil Mentor: Not during the New Mutant days, but much, much later, when Hope Summers is around. Cable is particularly wary of letting the cynical teenager anywhere near Magneto for precisely this reason. Actual evil-ness may vary, but Erik was definitely not the best influence someone like Hope needed, as at least one What If demonstrated.
  • Evil Plan: His methods to prevent mutant genocide can be rather... extreme, especially if you're human.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Magneto creates the dangerous mutant team called the Savage Land Mutates, by subjecting them to experiments that greatly enhanced their physiology.
  • Extra-ore-dinary: Whatever the writers decide of his powers, he can always control metal.
  • The Extremist Was Right: One has to concede that that no matter how many times the X-Men have stopped his plans or saved the world from any other number of threats to it, mutants are still hated and feared by normal humans as much as they were before.
    • A note that in various What if stories, it's stated the reason mutants are hated and feared is a large part due to the actions of Magneto. His terrorist attacks against the military and governments of the world pretty much underscore how helpless humanity is against mutants. Mind you, Marvel being the Crapsack World it is, if Magneto didn't exist, then the X-Men would get slaughtered by Apocalypse as they would otherwise have forgone Level Grinding.
  • Family of Choice: Whether Wanda and Pietro actually are his biological kids or not, he certainly considers Wanda his daughter regardless. For better or worse (and let's be honest, it's usually worse) Wanda reciprocates.
  • Fantastic Racism: Aside from the occasionally not-unjustified attitude towards humans, Silver Age Magneto also hated anyone who wasn't a Mutant, including Atlanteans, who he planned to overthrow and enslave.
  • Fatal Flaw: Arrogance, or rather a tossup between Wrath and Pride, depending on who's writing him that day. His actual evil quotient is very variable, but a constant in almost all his appearances and incarnations is his deep-seated rage at the human race. Most of the time this rage comes from the very valid place of his traumatic childhood, but even at his most tragic the human race as a whole isn't to blame for what happened to him, yet decades later he still cannot bring himself to forgive a race of billions for the sins of thousands (almost all of whom are long dead). For storylines where he's backed off from wanting to Put Them All Out of My Misery, Magneto's pride rises to the fore. This is when he's most likely to declare A God Am I (which has 'evolved' to "Gods Are We") and surrender his reason completely to his ego. Whether it's Wrath or Pride pulling the trigger, the end result is him shooting himself in the foot at the finish line of getting what he wants, over and over and over again.
  • Final Boss: In nearly every Video Game about the X-Men ever made. It would be easier to list the ones that don't feature him as this.
  • Flanderization: Since the movies, both fans and even writers often seem to assume that his powers are restricted to manipulating metallic objects.
  • Flying Firepower: He can throw around Shock and Awe and pretty much everything else on the electromagnetic spectrum - though he's quite happy to use a large building instead.
  • Forgot About His Powers: There was an incident in which Reed Richards managed to dupe him with a wooden gun. The sheer simplicity of his trick dumbfounded Magneto to the point in which the authorities took him in without incident. To this day he still cannot explain what happened.
  • Freudian Excuse: Back in his day, it was called the Holocaust. ...But no, that's not quite right. That wraps things up too nicely. The Holocaust happened, and he survived, even attempting to not let such an event shape him negatively. Then his daughter was killed, and he discovered and unleashed his powers to deal some righteous judgement... and, regrettably, his beloved Magda left him in fear soon after he had unleashed his wrath upon the culprits responsible.
  • Friendly Enemy: Depending on the Writer (usually Chris Claremont takes this view), there will be many times in which he heavily regrets the seemingly never-ending conflicts he has with Charles and his X-Men, even if he thinks that he does what is right by his people.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Once he was just a simple young man, until he saw just how horrible humans can be. Though it was after the murder of his daughter that he became fully devoted to his cause. Had they simply left him alone, he would have stayed Max Eisenhardt. But now, he is Magneto.

  • Genocide Survivor: He is a Jewish man who survived The Holocaust when he was a boy. The experience of watching his entire family die and being sent to Auschwitz fundamentally shaped his personality, beliefs, and his reaction to the persecution of mutants. Magneto is more than willing to use deadly force to protect mutants because he's determined to make sure that what happened to the Jewish people in 1940s Europe never happens again.
  • Glass Cannon: His powers are typically highly destructive, even if all the writers can think of is manipulating metal, but at the same time he's no more durable than any non-powered man - though by physically human standards, he's Made of Iron and capable of taking a beating as well as being ripped as hell and more than able to hold his own in a straight fight. Those force fields he creates aren't just for fun. He's very aware of this trope so he puts a lot of effort into keeping his mind and body sharp, allowing him to survive even without his powers.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Goes without saying, but when his eyes are aglow, you would be smart not to get in his way.
  • A God Am I: During the 90s he wholeheartedly embraced the role of a wrathful, Old Testament-styled deity to inspire awe and devotion in his new followers, the Acolytes. It is not clear if he truly believed himself to be a deity during this time or if he simply played a role already expected from him — in introspection years later, he would say only that he "raised himself above them as a messiah". However, at his very worst he has outright called himself a god to lord over humanity, having done so in the House of X storyline (though in the latter case, he extends it to mutantkind as a whole).
  • Good Is Dumb: During the first period he had running Xavier's Institute, he made some exceedingly foolish decisions.
  • Good is Not Nice: He seems to prefer that people not think of him as nice, and lives up to that image. At one point, he even chided Rogue for thinking he was doing something just to be nice.
    Magneto: I came here to be alone with my thoughts.
    Rogue: That a polite brush-off?
    Magneto: Have you ever known me to be polite?
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The "monsters" in this case being for him the vile, disgusting, bloodthirsty racist genocidal humans and, prior to that, the madmen of Nazi Germany and their inconceivable horrors. Charles would pinpoint towards some Freudian theory about this reflecting on Magneto's own destiny, but...
  • The Heavy: He was this during his villain years.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: He will always do what needs to be done to safeguard the future of mutantkind — regardless of whether others consider his actions "good" or "evil," such as when he yanked Miss Kitty Pryde off the Bus.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: As a menacing villain he had an iconic helmet. His times as a Face, most particularly the Claremont run where he lead the New Mutants, has him mostly eschewing his helmet, usually only wearing it for practical defense against enemy telepaths. Morally ambiguous phases has him wearing it regularly, though most of the time they're white.
  • Heroic RRoD: During Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-Men run, he managed to use his powers to find the space bullet Kitty was trapped in, and drag it back to Earth. The strain nearly killed him, and kept him out of commission for a long while.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Uranos ripped out his heart during a planet-wide attack on Arakko. Magneto used his powers to temporarily keep himself alive. He could have gone to a healer to fully recover, but it would have come at the cost of potentially billions of lives. Instead he decided to take down Uranos' machines and Uranos himself with Storm's help. It cost him his life and both Arakko and Krakoa see him as one of their greatest heroes because of it.
  • Hidden Depths: He's an excellent chef and enjoys fine arts and cuisine as well as being very well-read with a taste for the finer things.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: His immense willpower often leaves him pushing himself no matter how much damage he takes. Whether it's injuries suffered from enemies or the strain of pushing his powers too far he is not likely to stop until he literally can't act anymore.
  • Humans Are Bastards: This is his view of humans after the hand he was dealt (it was the Holocaust, after all) and seeing a similar hand being dealt to other mutants around the world. Somehow it didn't occur to him that the victims of the holocaust were also human beings such as his own family.
  • I Have Many Names: Erik Magnus Lehnsherr and other shortened variants such as Erik Magnus, Magneto (of course), The Master of Magnetism. To be honest, his REAL name is Max Eisenhardt, a German-Polish Jew. In most other retellings, he's content with simply "Magnus."
  • I Have No Son!: He's prone to this attitude regarding Pietro when he's in a Kick the Dog mood, and at least once he's come right out and said it. And then, not content to stop there, he added that the android Ferris was more of a son in his eyes than Pietro, citing Ferris's emotionless loyalty as more in accordance with his idea of a son. He has never done this to any of his daughters, even when finding out that they're actually not his daughter. Of course, given his relentless emotional abuse of Scarlet Witch during the early days detailed above, one can hardly argue he treated them any better...
  • Ignored Epiphany: No matter how many times he has a Heel Realization and tries to redeem himself, inevitably he always backslides and returns to the megalomaniac supervillain he is at his core. Indeed, as of 2018 he has even reorganized the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and has happily returned to mindless terrorism, saying only that "the old ways work best" in explanation (as if he wasn't beaten over and over again in the past using those 'old ways').
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: Magnetism is capable of anything. For example, his magnetic attraction power can hypnotize the less mentally capable. He has also magnetically lifted various objects and entities that logically he should not have been able to, like simple water. He can even manipulate the entire electro-magnetic spectrum (which helps explain some of his weirder abilities), albeit without the same potency as regular magnetism, and once in a while he displays some latent telepathic powers.
  • Immune to Mind Control: He has a special helmet that prevents him from being mind-controlled. A most useful tool when his arch nemesis (Professor X) is one of the most accomplished psychics in the world.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: People are often confused as to the spelling of his preferred civilian name. Erik is sometimes written as Eric, and Lehnsherr is written as Lensherr as often as not.
  • Irony: For all of his pro-mutant rhetoric, he was mostly shaped by positive humans and the loss of them. His loving father was very similar to his later best friend, Charles Xavier. His rebellious personality was largely modeled on his courageous Cool Uncle Erich, whom he admired and his Start of Darkness was the loss of his human daughter, Anya.
  • It's All About Me: Along with his Lack of Empathy for his followers, this tends to be his greatest flaw — although his motives are good, perhaps even noble, they're tainted by his distinct conviction that only he can lead mutantkind to a better future. In recent years, he's been willing to step back and let the likes of Scott and Hope Summers lead, or share power as part of the Quiet Council, even abdicating and moving to the mutant Planet Arrako (formerly Mars), where he ends up taking the Seat of Loss on the Arrakki 'Great Ring' by squashing the skull of its previous owner. Given that a) Klingon Promotion via trial by combat is traditional among the Arrakki, b) the previous holder was Tarn the Uncaring who made Sinister look like humanitarian of the year, no one complained.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He really wants his people to be free from sapien racism and oppression, even if he has to become A Nazi by Any Other Name to achieve it, and he is capable of genuine kindness, heroism and friendship, sincerely respecting Charles and seeing him as a friend despite their opposition.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Depending on the Writer, sometimes his messianic ambitions are nothing more than a front for his raging ego and god complex (90s Magneto, we're looking at you).
  • Joker Immunity: He's Marvel's premiere example. That very trope page brought up that he may well have had more intended permanent deaths, de-powers, and lobotomies to render him harmless than any other super villain, so much so that he might have likely been the Trope Namer if not for the Joker.
  • Knight Templar: In the past, he has done whatever it takes to ensure prosperity for mutantkind. Naturally, how far he's forced to go depends on who's writing at the moment.
  • Lack of Empathy: A strange example in that he is much more like to show empathy for his enemies (the X-Men) than his own followers. Even after being more or less redeemed, he still doesn't seem to think much of anyone that follows him, and in a conversation with former follower Frenzy he even says outright he is not interested in having followers anymore. Naturally, the latest (as of 2018) story arc has him reorganizing the Brotherhood and recruiting many of his former mistreated followers, all of whom dropped everything they were doing to work for him again. It also goes without saying that if you're a human, he doesn't care about you in the slightest.
  • Large Ham: How else can he show that he's superior to you human beings than with powerful speech and gestures?
  • Light 'em Up: He has occasionally manipulated the visible electromagnetic spectrum to make himself invisible. He does have a slight white motif with his hair and lightning, but he doesn't go pretentiously overboard.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: If there's no possible way for his magnetism to pull off a certain insane feat, that is where the "electro" prefix of "electromagnetism" comes in.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Platonic example, but Magneto's father was very similar to Xavier.
  • Little "No": Prone to these. Appears to be immune to its counterpart, Big "NO!".
  • Locked into Strangeness: His hair is usually shown to have turned grey thanks to a youth spent in Auschwitz. Even de-aging and re-aging don't change that.
  • The Lost Lenore: Magda and Anya. Magneto even renamed the central plaza of Genosha after his first wife (d'aww). Less so for Lorna's mother. Magneto even tells Wanda that her uncanny (heh) resemblance to Anya is one of the reasons he so easily believed she is his daughter.
  • Love Triangle: He is part of one, locked in combat with the Cajun Remy LeBeau (better known as Gambit) for the affections of the mutant Rogue. She promises nothing about the future, but he won the triangle during their time on Utopia. It, of course, did not last, but as for Magneto he wishes her the best in every way. And then she ended up marrying Gambit, confirming the result.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • Showing up just as your daughter in-law has given birth to say "hi" to your granddaughter was probably not the best way to break the news to your son that he is, in fact, your son. But definitely a memorable way to do it.
    • For years, Polaris wasn't sure whether Magneto was her father or not, until she did some investigating and found evidence of magnetism in the debris of the plane her mother died on. She went to confront Magneto, who confirmed he was her father.

  • Made of Iron: In one of his confrontations with Charles' students, he received several blows to the head from Colossus, yet still remained standing, to say nothing of the fact he simply shrugged off Wolverine's attempts to skewer him.
  • Malcolm Xerox:
    • It's common for fans to paint him as a (rare) white, albeit non-WASP, version of this trope at least based on The Theme Park Version of the Civil Rights Movement as the more radical alternative to his Friendly Enemy Charles Xavier's Martin Luther King, Jr. In actual fact King and X barely knew each other, met only once, and none of their differences ever led to any actual split in the movement. Likewise, Malcolm X was actually known to be considerably more moderate than his reputation allowed, while King was more radical than people knew.
    • Magneto has also been compared to Meir Kahane, the founder of the paramilitary Jewish Defense League and the now-banned Kach Party in Israel. Like Magneto, Kahane endured the Holocaust and believed that his people could only survive "by any means necessary". The Professor X-Magneto divide is further explored and paralleled by fellow Holocaust survivor Irving Greenberg, who was a close friend of Kahane until they split over Kahane's radicalism.
    • invoked Chris Claremont himself–who helped reinvent Magneto away from his one-note supervillain characterization–based him and Professor X off of Menachem Begin and Prime Minster David Ben Gurion, respectively. Begin being a radical terrorist before evolving into a Nobel Prize winner for brokering peace, which was an arc Claremont planned for Magneto.
  • Man of Kryptonite: Magneto's powers make him one of the very few opponents that Wolverine has no chance against in a stand-up fight. Even before he tore the adamantium off Logan's bones, he's done things like shove Logan's claws back into his arms and toss him around like a rag doll without even touching him.
    [from X-Men #25] Ah, Logan. We dance the dance again and again... and you've never learned the steps very well, have you? [flings Wolverine across the room with a flick of his fingers]
    • Likewise, Colossus and his ability to turn his skin into indestructible metal are at a severe disadvantage against the Master of Magnetism.
    [from X-Men #112] And have you so soon forgotten that against me, your armored form makes you the weakest X-Man?! [flings Colossus across the room with a wave of his hand]
  • May–December Romance: Some fans are bothered by the age difference between himself and Rogue, even though thanks to being turned into a baby by Alpha the "Ultimate Mutant" and later returned to adulthood by a Shi'ar agent, he now has a body that is physically in its thirties. The age difference is never brought up when people talk about Wolverine's romantic relationships with women of roughly Rogue's age (Jean Grey, Mariko Yashida, Yukio, etc.) even though Wolverine is old enough to be Magneto's grandfather (probably because Wolverine is older than any real human, but Magneto isn't ... yet).
  • Meaningful Name: His original name, Max Eisenhardt, is quite poetic. "Eisen" is the German word for "Iron". "Hardt" sounds like German ("hart") and English ("hard"), which both mean the same thing; and in German names, the "-hard/hardt/hart" suffix originally means "strong"; it is also present e. g. in "Bern(h)ard" (strong as a bear) or "Gerhard" (strong with the spear), thus "Eisenhardt" means "strong as iron", or in his case also: strong with iron. "Max" connotes intensity. Who would have guessed a man with such a name would later become the hardened master of metal manipulation?
    • The name "'Lensherr" looks and sounds a lot like the German "landesherr" which means "territorial lord".
    • "Erik" means "ruler", which is how he sees himself. It may also be in honor of his uncle Erich, who chose to stay in Warzaw and help the Jews there.
    • Magnus means "great", so Erik Magnus, while mixing Germanic and Latin, means "great ruler".
    • Magda means "girl" or "maid", and the reason they could first meet at an all-boy school is that she was the cleaning lady's daughter.
    • Anya means "mercy".
    • Ruth (his sister) means "friend" in its Hebrew origin and "sadness" or "grief" in English. Without getting all punny, can we agree that after she died he became both ruthless and friendless? Hers is the only death he never refers to directly.
      • Her alias that she uses for "passing" as a "real German", is Greta, which means "pearl".
    • Briar means "thorn". Even when she helps him, she annoys him quite a lot.
  • Messianic Archetype: Became one of these to the Acolytes, though to his very slight credit this was not his idea — it was Fabian Cortez who created a religion around Magneto and elevated him to a divine figure to control his followers, and Exodus leaned into it with genuine sincerity (he later became disillusioned and downgraded Magneto to 'prophet' status) but Mags certainly embraced the idea.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: As a Bad Boss, one shouldn't be surprised that the majority of times his underlings betray him it is motivated by this. The king of mistreatment-induced betrayals where Magneto is concerned is his long-time sycophant the Toad, who Mags used to, in Toad's own words, "Insult me, hit me, order me around like a slave". Unsurprisingly Toad eventually reached a breaking point and more than once turned on Magneto, though tragically his borderline abused housewife mentality leads him to just keep returning to Mags's side. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who also endured Magneto at his worst, left his side to join the Avengers and never looked back.
  • Moral Pragmatist: It seems like Magneto sprints through the Heel–Face Revolving Door more than any other "super-villain". He doesn't; it's just that the most efficient way to achieve his goals changes with the status quo, and Magneto has never been shy about embracing a faster or better method… provided he thinks it will work. He underlines this in Magneto: Not A Hero after his clone, Joseph, who Came Back Wrong, tries to pull a Breaking Speech on him.
    Magneto: The thing that none of you will ever understand is that there are no sides. There's no heroes or villains. There's just what I want and how I'll get it.
  • Morality Pet: At times, Kitty Pryde – fellow mutant and fellow Jew – serves in this capacity. One of his terms as a Face began with delivering her from danger. If not her, then Luna (when she's his granddaughter).
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • In essence, his reaction to harming a young Kitty Pryde - a mutant Jewish girl who bears at least a passing resemblance to his daughter, Anya - in battle. For all that he have sworn to fight for mutantkind by any means necessary, he will not harm children.
    • During the events of Adjectiveless X-Men vol 1 issues 1-3, his fight with the X-Men brings him face to face with the corpses of the submarine he sunk a while back. Aside from bringing up his memories of Auschwitz, he's forced to confront the fact he killed innocents.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • Early Magneto, pre-Claremont (who was the first to characterize him as a Holocaust survivor) was pretty much envisioned as one by Jack Kirby and Grant Morrison's Planet X returns to this (Planet X was very swiftly retconned as being Xorn posing as Magneto). Unlike his more well known mainstream and cinematic/animated versions, these versions of Magneto actively encourage mutants to kill and terrorize humans as part of his "mutant supremacy" creed.
    • Later versions of Magneto post-Claremont moderate this by bringing this as a Became Their Own Antithesis moment, at times becoming no different than the Germanic bigots who butchered his family, upholding the same creed of racial supremacy with equal fervor. It has been noted that there's uncomfortable similarities in his own crusade to promote Homo Superior to replace humans as the dominant species and the Nazi beliefs in the Ubermensch and the Untermensch, though Magneto has never, canonically, countenanced the sort of barbarism the Nazis used to slaughter those they considered unfit. He considers violence as a necessary proactive steps to protect his people from humanity; he believes that humans will eliminate themselves eventually without any need for direct intervention on his part. Indeed, at least twice he has sought to simply remove his people from humanity to leave them to their fates, such as when he founded Genosha or established Asteroid M, but such efforts have always simply redoubled humanity's fervor to strike at him.
  • Nazi Hunter: Most famously when he buried the Red Skull alive. He's also been shown to have worked with American intelligence services hunting Nazis in hiding during the Cold War (although thanks to the sliding timeline, it's ambiguous exactly when or how long he did this for).
  • Never Be Hurt Again: When he's given sympathetic motivations, he gives this reaction. He's a Holocaust survivor who doesn't want mutants to face the kind of genocidal bigotry he endured in his youth, though it does kind of go against him when he has no qualms about doing that to humans.
  • Never My Fault: He refuses to assume that his actions may have harmed more of his fellow mutants and hurt the cause of mutant rights more than they have ever helped; he only pins the blame for that on humanity.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Over the course of his career, he's found many ways to use the power of magnetism to manipulate related forms of energy for a variety of uses. For example, turning invisible by bending light, manipulating electromagnetic energy to shoot lightning bolts, or altering the behavior of local gravitational fields; some see this as "evidence" of a unified field theory that states all energy is the same, but just emitted in various ways. Still, in most cases, magnetism is far easier to manipulate than any other, so he usually stays with that.
  • Noble Demon: He has committed many atrocities, but they're driven to protect his loved ones and his people from harm.
  • Not Me This Time: In House of M, reality's rewritten so Mutantkind is on top, with Magneto in charge. The various heroes come to the not-unreasonable conclusion that Magneto is the one who made Wanda use her powers to make this happen, but it eventually turns out it wasn't. It was Quicksilver, and Magneto was brainwashed along with everyone else. He... doesn't take it very well.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Many had tried this on him, but none had enraged him as much as when the Red Skull did this. He paid him back in kind.
  • Not Quite Flight: He can pick himself up with metal objects that he levitates with his powers. He is sometimes stated as outright flying (or "levitating") by controlling magnetic lines of force. It is also a likely explanation for how he can move things lacking ferrous metal.
  • Older Than They Look: Courtesy of Alpha and the High Evolutionary, he's in his physical prime, despite being almost a century old.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Genetic manipulation, particle physics, engineering, designing weapons, space stations, superpowered humanoid lifeforms, devices that generate volcanoes and earthquakes, devices that block telepathy, devices that can nullify all mutant powers except for his own, reconstructing computerised devices from memory. He could probably make the top ten list for smartest people on the planet if he put his mind to it.
  • Parental Abandonment: An understandable case with Pietro and Wanda, since he never actually knew they were alive to begin with. Lorna Dane, on the other hand, doesn't have that excuse. Magneto wiped her memories of accidentally killing her mother, and left her to be adopted because he figured (rightly) that a three year old had no place with a man who was losing his marbles.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil:
    • In God Loves, Man Kills, he finds out a bunch of rednecks attacked a mutant family, killed the children and left their bodies near a school so the next morning they'd be found. Erik tracked them down, and... well, you can probably guess.
    • Killing Zaladane, who was posing a serious threat not just to the Savage Land, but the world as a whole.
    • He once imprisoned a man in a basement with limited water and no light. By the time said man was found, he was wishing for death. The man in question was the Red Skull; a villain so vile and repulsive that even The Joker won't work with him.
    • He once did this with Fabian Cortez, a treacherous mutant supremacist that in the past tried to kill him, manipulate wars between humans and mutants that led to the destruction of a safe haven for mutants Magneto created, and also tried to use his granddaughter as a human shield. The minute he no longer needed him, he beat the crap out of him.
    • He might have done this to the Future Brotherhood in X-Men: Blue, killing them for disrespecting Charles's vision, using time-travel for their own ends, and just being ass-hats. Might have, because we never see what he did... but they never turned up again, either.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: His high-order magnetism powers allow him to wreak destruction on a global scale if he's in the mood for it, and depending on what side of the Face–Heel Revolving Door he's on, sometimes he's very much in the mood for it. This has been toned down in recent years as he's crept more and more towards full time protagonist status, but when he decided to release a global EMP pulse in Fatal Attractions (Marvel Comics), "hundreds... maybe thousands" of people died.
  • Progressively Prettier: Overlaps with Beauty Equals Goodness (or at least sympathetic Anti-Hero) as the original Magneto was typically villainously ugly but became steadily more of a Silver Fox as he became more and more sympathetic.
  • Put on a Bus: It seems that when he has battled humanity for "too long", he ends up swept aside so other villains can "take the spotlight for a while." The first instance was after one of his battles when he unexpectedly found himself a prisoner of a an unexpected extra-terrestrial called the Stranger.
  • Putting on the Reich: His domination of San Marco, wherein he had an army of mercenaries, outfitted with Waffen-SS surplus uniforms. The stylized "M" armbands were one step away from swastikas, otherwise the resemblance to Adolf Hitler was total. Come to that, many of his actions as a man willing to use any lengths to replace mankind with his own genetically superior people do draw unavoidable comparisons, which have been elaborated on in the text.
  • Rebellious Spirit: He has a bit of a problem with authority, as one might imagine, and he doesn't recognize peers easily. It should go without saying that he calls no man "master," save himself. That said, he brooks no opposition within his own ranks.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: In the supervillain years, Magneto demonstrates an astounding inventive mind - geothermal bases, robotics that outstrip anything anyone else could dream of, without any psychotic murderizing... and yet he doesn't think of using these gifts for anything other than his war on mankind or petty revenge games on the X-Men.
  • Refugee from Time: Magneto is one of the most famous examples of the trope. Every year it becomes less and less plausible for him to have been a Holocaust survivor and writers have to jump through hoops to explain how he remains middle aged and physically fit despite being close to a century old. However, Magneto as a character is so intertwined by his time in Auschwitz that it would require reworking the character from the ground up to try and retcon his origins to a later time period.
  • Ret-Canon: Prior to the movie, his helmet was just a helmet. It provided no psychic protections.
  • Retcon: Has been subject to many—the idea that he was a Jew in World War II and victim of Nazi anti-Semitism, which is the character's defining trait nowadays, is one itself, not actually showing up until the 1980s. Moreover, it was a particularly heavy-handed one at that, since Magneto was originally a heavily Nazi-coded blond and blue-eyed Übermensch villain who speechified like a cut-rate Hitler and dressed up his Mook soldiers literally like Nazi stormtroopers with the swastikas filed off. Other than this big one, there have also been endless other retcons about various aspects of his origins and past since, back and forth. (Polaris is his daughter—No, she's not! Scarlet Witch is his daughter—No, she's not! He's a Polish Jew—No, actually a Gypsy—No, he's really a German Jew! His real name is Magnus—No, Erik—No, Max! And on, and on...) However, none of them has influenced the essence of the character in any similarly major way.
    • Likewise, his relationship with Charles Xavier, which also didn't come along until the 80s.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • After being restored by Erik the Red, he was determined to avenge himself on the X-Men, ignoring the fact that in the time since he had last encountered them all but Cyclops had been replaced with entirely different people. Eventually, they had no recourse but to flee, but he still vowed to confront them at another time.
    • If a human were to harm another Mutant, he would more likely call for their death than anything else, even a truly heartfelt apology. It became much less amusing when his former Acolyte, Exodus, turned this around on him for defending Charles from Frenzy.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Unlike Xavier, he believes that there can be no peaceful cooperation between humanity and mutantkind. If it was up to him, Mutantkind will take its flawed predecessor's place, and although he tries not to be too carelessly callous, he will not lose sleep over doing what he thinks must be done. More recently, in the Krakoa era, he's more willing to just wait for demographics to do the inevitable and complete a more or less bloodless take over.
  • The Rival: Charles Xavier, as a result of their differing views on whether mutantkind and man can live in peace or not; in the wider Marvel Universe, his rival is instead Doctor Doom. He is the closest he considers to be legitimate competition.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: It doesn't happen too often, but many readers first came to know Magneto through his appearances in crossover with Spider-Man. He also appeared in a prominent story in Stan Lee's newspaper Spider-Man strip, which allowed Peter to show off his scientist smarts by using his knowledge of magnetism against the Master.

  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Magneto believes war with humans and mutants is inevitable, so he attacks humans first. This, of course, results in humanity becoming more hostile to mutants.
  • Sex Equals Love: Defied by Wasp after they spent a night together. Magneto expected this trope to be in effect, though.
  • Shock and Awe: A primary attack of his, aside from throwing any amount of tons of metal at his enemies, is shooting bolts of lightning. Don't expect to turn his own powers against him either.
  • Shooting Superman:
    • Most people never learn that bullets are made of metal. There have been attempts to counter his abilities with non-metallic ballistics, but mutant gifts tend to continuously outpace human innovations in every capacity.
    • The X-Men themselves did this when they sent Wolverine, whose skeleton is magnetic due to his adamantium bones, on a team to deal with him. They should have known better. Magneto finally got fed up with this note  and rips out the adamantium from Wolverine's body, which gave Wolverine bone claws… and so took away that advantage against him.
  • Shoot the Dog: After a jaunt into a bad future during X-Men: Blue, he found the scientists who helped cause part of it, murdered them all and levelled the facility they were working at, just to be sure.
  • Shout-Out: Magneto: Testament gives shoutouts to Night by Elie Wiesel (when Kalb tells Max to say he's eighteen) and Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (when Max tells Magda to hide in the corpse pile).
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Played with, as from his perspective he is this played straight, considering himself a cynical realist and regarding his ideological rival Charles Xavier as a Wide-Eyed Idealist who prefers to focus on an unrealistic dream than cold hard reality. Ironically, he actually fits the Wide-Eyed Idealist label more than Xavier, as he is forever trying to force radical changes very quickly in a way that very rarely works out, either historically or for him personally. Meanwhile, 'the dreamer' Xavier focuses on slow-and-steady efforts that, while failing to produce results in the short term, have historically been more successful than Magneto's violent rebellions.
  • Silver Fox: For a man pushing upward of ninety, he is ripped. And he's had a surprising amount of love interests over the decades.
  • Slave Brand: He will forever carry the tattoo of a Nazi concentration camp upon his skin. As his cinematic counterpart so eloquently stated, he would sooner die than allow another needle to touch his skin, or that of any other Mutant.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: A character-personified version, with Charles on the Idealism end and himself vice versa. Magneto believes that peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants is not reasonable.
  • The Sociopath: Depending on the Writer — he was originally written as one of these, and there's a strong argument to be made that he's always been one, even during his Character Development periods where he's (more or less) tried to reform, or at least pursue less-violent ends to his goals. As Charles Xavier's Foil, Magneto has been consistently written as a Bad Boss who, in spite of his lofty goals and rhetoric, treats the actual people supporting him as little more than expendable pawns on his chessboard, and that's not even getting into his history of poor parenting and mass murdering. Writers more sympathetic to Magneto's position have cited With Great Power Comes Great Insanity as the excuse for this behavior, but some other writers have been less charitable... Grant Morrison in particular wrote Magneto's as an obvious (and flagrant) sociopath, so much so that he crossed the line into blatantly Stupid Evil. This interpretation proved to be too much for fans to swallow, and a quick Retcon established the Morrison Magneto as an impostor.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Before he met Rogue, he generally was romantically or sexually involved with non-mutant women – Magda, Isabelle, Polaris's mother, the Wasp, and Cyclops' former lover Lee Forrester, and now, billionaire Briar Raleigh.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Marvel were planning to have a major battle between him and Wolverine, when Peter David realized that Magneto could just rip Wolverine's skeleton out and be done with it. So he did.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Yes, his "human" name translates roughly into "intensely strong iron". Plus, he has used "Magnus" as a middle name since the ill-fated incident that cost him the closest to family he could ever experience. Though, one believes that "Magneto" is a far more superior and indicative moniker.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: As this page states, his powers are essentially limited to whatever the writers can think of with magnetism, which means they can vary considerably from one story to another.
  • Strong and Skilled: There is a very, VERY good reason they call him "The Master of Magnetism" as he is one of the strongest mutants on Earth, as well as having great skill and creativity in how he implements his mutant abilities. Considering magnetism is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, his powers are held in high regard by humans and mutants alike, and it also helps that he is a learned scientist in his own right, so he WOULD know how best to use them. It is also why he is able to fight those with similar abilities who truly CAN be considered Unskilled, but Strong. He once did battle with a cosmically powered Spider-Man on his own. On another occasion, he told the assembled heroes of the Marvel Universe that only The Mighty Thor was his equal in power. No one argued the point with him.
  • Superpower Lottery: Long story short, he has total control over one of the four fundamental forces of the universe. This doesn't put him in spitting distance of strongest mutant, what with the likes of Franklin Richards and the Grey-Summers family, but he's far away stronger than most others.
  • Super Supremacist: He has reacted to human persecution of mutants (in particular the parallels to his personal experiences in the Holocaust) by advancing his own version of mutant superiority over humans. He's not always aware of the tragic irony of his beliefs. Other times he is and just doesn't care.
  • Supreme Chef: He's no savage, you know. To go along with his vast powers, he's also quite the skilled cook. It was a necessity during his time as a child prisoner of Nazi concentration camps.
  • Surprise Incest: Downplayed. When he used his mind control powers on (the then long since heroic) Wanda the Scarlet Witch, there was no physical abuse (that we saw, at least), but he did force his "pretty puppet" to dance suggestively for his pleasure. This is, of course, hardly something to be proud of in any case, but it was made a lot worse by the revelation that she is really his daughter. This is one of those incidents that is quietly ignored nowadays, for obvious reasons. Though Wanda occasionally accuses him of doing horrible things to her, it's vague enough that she could just mean having her join the Brotherhood at all.
  • Tangled Family Tree: His is... complex. to say the least. He's even present on the page image.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Though he's never been completely sympathetic, Magneto was at his best during his time with the New Mutants. His time leading the titular mutant youth squad gave him a number of Pet the Dog moments, cooled (for a time) his Super Supremacist leanings to manageable levels, and established his relationship with Professor X as one of mutual respect rather than antagonism (indeed, he often grappled with the enormity of carrying his ideological rival's burden as a teacher and caretaker, as opposed to the comparatively easier job of supervillain he'd had before). When he returned to his old ways Charles was furious enough at him to hit him with a Mind Rape attack, but also disappointed that his old friend had abandoned his attempts to be a better person.
    • The circular storytelling inherent in the comics medium led to this getting recycled near-wholesale when Magneto returned after "his" role as Big Bad in Planet X. Even discounting that story, though, Magneto was still depicted as a better person than when he'd been canonically seen last (dictatoring it up in Genosha), and he surprisingly tried to stay on the straight and narrow for quite a long time after, though eventually the siren song of Status Quo Is God became too strong to resist and he relapsed.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Infamously in the 90s during the Fatal Attractions (Marvel Comics) story. While the swerve doesn't come out of nowhere (he'd already abandoned the New Mutants and by extension his mission to carry on Charles Xavier's legacy by this time), Magneto is depicted as more villainous here than he'd ever been since the Silver Age, killing thousands of people with his EMP pulse and setting himself up as a god to his fanatical mutant followers, the Acolytes. Stripping the adamantium from Wolverine's skeleton, an act he'd always been capable of but previously refrained from doing, was a throwing down of the gauntlet to Charles and a message that any restraints he'd once had on his behavior were gone, leading his old friend to conclude that wiping his mind was the only acceptable alternative.
    • As with Took A Level In Kindness above, this has also been recycled thanks to circular storytelling, and more than once in his case. One infamous example, during Grant Morrison's X-Men, had Magneto take so many levels it was retconned into not being the real Magneto in the aftermath. There's still his recent (as of 2019) relapse in X-Men: Blue, though, where he finally gives up and just embraces his supervillain roots, even going so far as to re-organize the Brotherhood. And then you have Cullen Bunn's long run on Magneto as a curious case, depicting him as a man trying to do good for his people but too damaged by his fundamental Lack of Empathy to do it without using the people around him as pawns and making moral compromises along the way.
  • Tragic Villain: Witnessed the absolute worst of humanity as a small child during the Holocaust, which made him swear that he would never allow something similar to happen to mutantkind. Even with all of the villainous things he does, it's all done for the greater good of his people.
  • Trauma Button:
    • Go on. Say "the greater good" near him...
    • Being reminded of the mass grave he and his family were dumped into when he was a kid.
  • Übermensch: It's not easy to consider him "nice" in any respect, but he believes himself to have his own type of moral code that allows him to believe that it will all mean well in the end, placing himself as leader, and having to eliminate the inferiors. To any medical psychologist that would thus make him a sociopath ideologue with typical monstrous egomania and entitled ruthlessness; others at least put him in a more sympathetic light. Still others go so far as to claim it's all a result of bipolar disorder brought by his powers and claim he's just plain mentally ill.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Part of the reason the retcon of being Pietro's father works so well - they do look and act a lot alike.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Early in Grant Morrison's New X-Men, Magneto is apparently killed by the Mega-Sentinel trashing Genosha, then pops up again as Xorn, ending with Wolverine cutting off his head. Then, when Chris Claremont's Excalibur started up a short while later, Erik turns up fresh as a daisy. What decapitation? Eventually, House of M has Doctor Strange speculate that Wanda's reality warping powers had something to do with it, but she neither confirms or denies it.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Adrian Eiskalt in X-Men Unlimited. Magneto killed his brother. He recalls one version of events to fuel his revenge fantasies, and another when he decides he doesn't want revenge after all.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Whatever it takes, mutantkind WILL prevail.
  • Vague Age: The first time we see Ruthie she is Max's older sister. Max is nine and she is at least twelve and working in a flower shop. Later, when Max is sixteen, she is clearly not in her late teens, especially given her parents' last exchange about her.
  • Villain Has a Point: Part of what makes Magneto such a compelling villain and a major part of his popularity is that he's not entirely wrong in his beliefs. He's correct in his assessment that humanity is often hateful of things they don't understand and those that are "different"; after all, he lived through one of the most infamous historical instances of human hatred leading to the persecution and genocide of other peoples, and there's countless other Real Life examples that could be cited too. He's also often shown to be correct in his assertion that for all the good the X-Men have done, humans will turn on them eventually and mutants run the very real risk of being exterminated if that happens — being that this is comic books, Status Quo Is God and mutant-human relations rarely undergo any significant lasting change for the better, however much the X-Men try to win humanity's acceptance with their heroism. He's also correct that Charles' idealism, while admirable, is partially due to the fact that he simply hasn't experienced the same horrors Magneto has due to his wealth and privilege, so he has no real understand of the kind of prejudice and hatred that mutants face daily, but Magneto certainly does and this is why he is able to gain support among those mutants time and again. Not for nothing is the phrase "Magneto was right" a popular slogan among his fans.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In spite of his decades-long history of unbroken failure, Magneto's charisma and Cult of Personality is such that he is held on a level with his more mature ideological rival Charles Xavier even by those mutants who don't buy into his "mutant rights through violence" rhetoric.
  • Visionary Villain: No matter how vile they may be, his every act is a stone in the foundations of a world where mutants do not live in fear of homo sapien oppression.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He'll do what he must to ensure mutants never suffer any more at the hands of you humans.
  • Wicked Cultured: He has a full understanding and appreciation for the few things that he finds positive and admirable that human culture has produced over its long, floundering history.
  • Word-O Name: Magnet, which is fitting for his powers, + O = Magneto.note 
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Their conflicting ideologies aside, Charles Xavier is still his dearest friend, and has done more to help mutants than anyone in the world.
    • As much as he is reluctant to admit it, he must concede that perhaps alone of all humanity, Captain America does seem to truly believe in the ideal of equality that he espouses.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Towards mutants. At a certain point he figures he is hellbound anyway, so he might as well keep doing the dirty work.
    Magneto: I am damned, so let the stains cover me.
  • You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: He did this once to Fabian Cortez, after he temporarily allowed him back in his ranks due to need of his powers, but as soon as he found a machine that served as a substitute, he finally killed him for his treachery against him years earlier.

Alternative Title(s): Magneto