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Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
"We are the future, Charles, not them. They no longer matter."
"I've been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again."

Played By: Ian McKellen; Michael Fassbender; Brett Morris (young Erik in X-Men); Bill Milner (young Erik in First Class)

Voiced By: Jorge Fink (old, X-Men 1), José Lavat (old, X2-Days of the Future), José Arenas (adult, First Class), Ricardo Tejedo (adult, Days of Future Past-Apocalypse) (Latin American Spanish); Juan Miguel Cuesta (old, X-Men-Days of Future Past), Pepe Mediavilla (old, The Wolverine), Iñaki Crespo (adult, First Class-Apocalypse) (European Spanish); Osamu Saka (old, X-Men 1), Iemasa Kayumi (old, X-Men 1-Days of Future Past), Hiroshi Arikawa (old, X2-The Last Stand), Shin-ichiro Miki (adult) (Japanese), Bernard Dhéran (French, Ian McKellen), Jean-Pierre Michaël (French, Michael Fassbender)


Film Appearances: X-Men | X2: X-Men United | X-Men: The Last Stand | X-Men: First Class | The Wolverine | X-Men: Days of Future Past | X-Men: Apocalypse | Dark Phoenix

"You see, I think what you really fear is me. Me and my kind. The Brotherhood of Mutants. Oh, it's not so surprising really. Mankind has always feared what it doesn't understand."

A mutant with powerful magnetic abilities, enabling him to telekinetically manipulate anything made of metal, and a sophisticated knowledge in matters of genetic manipulation.

He and Xavier were once friends, and they built Cerebro together. However, his belief that humans and mutants could never co-exist in peace led to their separation. Guided by the suffering he had endured as a Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, his commitment to his fellow kind is that he will never let humanity wrong them, and will defend mutantkind to any end no matter how horrific.


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  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the comics, he has been shown to have had white hair for the vast majority of his adult life, presumably as a side-effect of his mutation. In the films, he's introduced with grey hair (though only because, lacking Comic-Book Time, the screenwriters had to make him the realistic age of a Holocaust survivor) and he has dark brown hair as a younger man in the prequels.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the comics, his original name was Max Eisenhardt and Erik Lehnsherr was an alias. In the films Erik Lehnsherr is his real name and the alias he uses is Henryk Gurzsky. To be fair though, Max Eisenhardt was not revealed as his true comic book name until the 2008 miniseries X-Men: Magneto Testament, long after the first X-Men movie was released in 2000.
  • Affably Evil: With Xavier. They still play chess games together a good 40 years into their conflict with each other. Hell, if you are on his side, he is rather chatty and friendly to you.
  • AM/FM Characterization: In X2: X-Men United, he listens to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in his prison cell.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: In X-Men: The Last Stand, he sincerely grieves over Xavier's death and cuts off his Dragon Pyro's irreverent talk about the deceased abruptly. As in most versions of X-Men, he and Xavier were very close friends who eventually found themselves on separate sides due to their ideological differences.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Played straight in Dark Phoenix, where he makes a point that the Phoenix is dangerous, but his methods involve injuring anyone who gets in his way as he tries to kill Jean.
    • Subverted in X-Men: First Class and X2: X-Men United, where he seems to join the heroes against a common foe, but is ultimately revealed to have ulterior motives and turns against them in the end.
  • Anti-Villain: Has an unquestionably sympathetic backstory and very good reason to believe that humans are out to eradicate the mutant race. However, he is a dangerous individual with few limits on his devotion and what must be done to ensure the survival of his kind. Even his best and oldest friend isn't safe from his extreme methods and beliefs.
  • The Atoner: Ian McKellen invokes this while discussing his character in the "Double Take: Xavier & Magneto" documentary on the X-Men: Days of Future Past Blu-Ray release.
    "The Magneto that you see with me is a man of conscience, and a man with an unhappy life behind him. He's come through a great deal, and isn't taking on single-handedly, or even with the help of his Brotherhood, society as a whole. He's joined up again with his old friend, Professor X, and together, they're going to try to move things forward."
  • Badass Baritone: Both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender pull this off.
  • Badass Cape: Part of his supervillain outfit is his iconic crimson cape.
  • Badass Longcoat: Magneto typically wears a long black coat in civilian attire, such as his appearance at the mutant hearings in the first film, the attempt to stop Mystique in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge in Dark Phoenix.
  • Berserk Button: Does not like people who 'just follow orders’. This is heavily implied to be because it was the excuse many Nazi officials gave for their actions during the Nuremburg trials.
  • Big Bad:
    • Magneto is responsible for the main conflict in X-Men, as he intends to sacrifice Rogue to power a machine capable of turning normal humans into mutants, but is unaware that the artificial mutations are unstable and will kill the affected.
    • In X-Men: The Last Stand, Magneto builds an army and prepares to attack Alcatraz island, where a cure for mutations is being developed. His efforts lead him to recruit the unstable Phoenix, who goes on a rampage during the film's climax and causes countless deaths.
  • Big Bad Ensemble:
    • Magneto shares the antagonistic role with Stryker in X2: X-Men United, but their goals are opposite of each other: the former intends to use the machine called Dark Cerebro to rid the world of normal humans, whereas the latter intends to do the same to the mutants.
    • Trask, Mystique and a younger version of Magneto are the main villains of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Trask invented the Sentinels, mutant-hunting machines that turned the world into an apocalyptic dystopia. Mystique goes on trying to get revenge on Trask by killing him after seeing the pictures of her deceased fellow mutants. Magneto opposes both Mystique and Trask by promoting his own ideals of supremacy, which only serve to amplify humanity's fear of mutants and push the Sentinel program forward.
  • Big Brother Instinct: By the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he had already begun to view Charles as a brother figure. When the Blackbird spiraled out of control, Erik used his body to shield Xavier from injury, and he immediately halted his attack on the American and Soviet naval forces when Charles was shot. Even after they become enemies, Erik continously shows both respect and affection for Charles, consitantly referring to him as ‘Old Friend’. He was immensely saddened by his death in X-Men: The Last Stand, and deeply insulted by those who where disrespectful to him. He would also routinely put his own life on the line to help or save Charles, and the two kept very close in their later years, despite often being on opposing sides of the battle field.
  • Big Good: Old Magneto shares the role with Charles Xavier in X-Men: Days of Future Past, acting as the wise, protective mentor of the future team. This is in sharp contrast with his younger self, whose bigotry almost catapults the world into an even worse timeline than the one they are currently living in.
  • Byronic Hero: In X-Men: First Class—morally troubled, emotionally damaged, attractive, and very charismatic about his pro-mutant beliefs. Particularly to some of the impressionable younger characters like Mystique.
  • The Chessmaster: Invoked several times. He is seen playing Chess with Charles Xavier several times throughout the original trilogy, and references Chess during his attack on Alcatraz, to his benefit as Juggernaut was about to pull a Leeroy Jenkins and would have been depowered in the first wave had Erik not stopped him.
    Erik (stopping Juggernaut): In chess, the pawns go first.
    (the defenders reveal their plastic dart guns filled with the cure serum, leading to the first wave of attackers getting depowered)
    Erik: Hmm, plastic. They've learned. That's why the pawns go first.
  • Coin Walk Flexing: In X-Men First Class, in one of his first scenes as an adult, Magneto is idly using his power to float a coin around his spread fingers in a way that resembles a coin walk, showing his acquired mastery over his talents.
  • Color Motifs: He dresses up in various shades of red and purple.
  • Combat Tentacles: He can turn metal cables and pipes into such things, the most notable in X-Men: First Class when he uses a cable to snag the telepathy-blocking helmet and pull it off Shaw’s head, enabling Xavier to take control.
  • Composite Character: Has Juggernaut's helmet in this adaptation. This makes sense, as this Magneto's twisted, Cain and Abel relationship with Charles (Juggernaut's brother in the comics) is played to the hilt.
  • Cool Helmet: Wears his famous telepathy-blocking helmet. Technology wired into the helmet prevents telepathic intrusion, making Magneto difficult to control or impossible to find via Cerebro.
  • The Corrupter: Although he convinces Raven to accept her mutant appearance, he also pushes her into committing murder against human enemies and truly becoming Mystique. Charles believes Erik is a large influence for Raven leaving him.
  • Cultured Badass: He speaks several languages, passionately discusses philosophy, shows considerable knowledge of politics and foreign cultures, and enjoys the occasional game of chess with Xavier.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Dishes these out to Wolverine on a regular basis. Wolverine's metal skeleton makes him nigh-unstoppable against other opponents but is a huge liability going up against Magneto, who either immobilizes him or flings him away (or both) with ease every time they encounter each other as foes. Even when he faces a time-displaced Logan lacking the adamantium in his bones, Erik still dispatches him and nearly drowns him by impaling Wolverine with metal pipes and flinging him into a river.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: "Holocaust survivor" is about as dark and troubled as it gets.
  • Dark Messiah: In X-Men: Days of Future Past, his younger self prepares to kill Nixon while declaring mutant supremacy in front of a live broadcast.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The biggest one in the series, natch. X2: X-Men United is largely his snark-fest at everyone else's expense.
    • In X-Men: First Class upon seeing the mansion Charles grew up in.
      Erik: Honestly Charles, I don't know how you survived living in such hardship.
    • In the original X-Men, when Magneto has the X-Men trapped and bound within the Statue of Liberty, he points out a foolish tactical error on Scott's part with withering contempt.
      Cyclops: Storm, fry him!
      Magneto: Oh yes, a bolt of lightning into a huge copper conductor. I thought you lived at a school.
    • He also really enjoys mocking Wolverine in general.
      Magneto: Why do you always think it's all about you?
  • Death Glare: Young Magneto, portrayed by Fassbender, gives a calm murderous look killing the Nazis and Shaw, and also ripping a filling tooth from a banker in X-Men: First Class. Also, a good stare carrying the RFK Stadium towards the White House in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
  • Demoted to Dragon: He isn't the leader of the supervillain team in X-Men: Apocalypse; this time around, he plays second fiddle to Apocalypse. He becomes The Starscream and pulls a Heel–Face Turn, though.
  • Determinator: In the '70s, he asks Logan how fighting him for years has worked out for him and Logan responds they're both "survivors" which only serves to motivate Erik to later demonstrate how much more powerful he is than the Wolverine later on when he runs metal pipes through his body and leaves him to drown, muttering contemptuously, "so much for survival."
  • Disappeared Dad: To Quicksilver. Despite them sharing a few scenes and Quicksilver entering the plot of X-Men: Apocalypse just to find him, Magneto shows no signs of recognizing him.
  • Dissonant Serenity: He's disturbingly calm, even cheerful, during the scene in the bar in Argentina, just before he murders three ex-Nazi's.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: His younger self uses guns when he needs to, while the older Magneto sneers at them. This is partly because of his background as a holocaust survivor, and partly because humans rely on guns to fight, and he sees it as a sign of their inferiority. Of course, that's a bit hypocritical when he has the power of magnetism, and those who don't possess such an advantage have to defend themselves somehow.
  • Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us: His motive in almost every movie is to wipe out humanity before they can do the same to mutantkind.
  • Emotional Powers:
    • In X-Men: First Class, he is originally only able to use his powers when extremely angry. The first two times, it involves maternal separation. However, he can't properly focus it until Charles coaches him to concentrate on happier emotions.
    • In X-Men: Apocalypse, his power hike into Physical God territory is initially assumed to be Apocalypse enhancing him like the other Horsemen, but Charles contradicts this, contemptuously asserting that all Apocalypse has done is tap into his rage and pain.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • X2: X-Men United: He and Mystique team-up with the X-Men to stop a human villain from killing all mutants. Right up until he decides to invert the attack and have all the non-Mutants killed instead.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: He and Xavier unite against the Sentinels that threaten all of mutantkind with extinction. Although he ends up attempting his own plans for mutant superiority and, ironically enough, winds up jeopardizing the plan to save mutantkind.
    • Dark Phoenix: Magneto initially attempts to kill Jean for killing Mystique, but he and his lieutenants join forces with the X-Men to fight the D'Bari when they come for the Phoenix Force in the climax.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Despite all that he's done, his love for his mother is one of his defining characteristics. Unfortunately, it's also the reason why he killed Shaw in cold blood, truly becoming Magneto.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He does care deeply for certain characters - in the prequel films most obvously for Charles and Mystique. The memory of the good times he and Charles shared in their youth is enough to make him turn on Apocalypse, while Hank informing him of Mystique's death at Jean's hands sends him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Magneto always considered Xavier a friend and never wanted him dead. In X3 when Pyro says he would have done so if Magneto ordered it, Magneto is clearly angered at the idea. Whatever their qualms, neither wanted the other dead.
  • Evil Former Friend: Naturally while remaining on Friendly Enemy terms with Charles Xavier, the X-Men and Brotherhood are at great conflict in the majority of films regardless.
  • Evil Genius: With truly amazing schemes. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, he was able to steal a file containing the details of the Sentinels, after reading it over he was somehow able to reprogram them while inserting metal tracks within the bodies.
  • Extra-ore-dinary: His impressive mutant ability to control metal. Guns are a joke to him and throughout the films he's accomplished feats capable of lifting a submarine from water, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the RFK Stadium, the last without showing any real sign of effort. In X-Men: Apocalypse thanks to Apocalypse's enhancement he's shown ripping practically every metallic structure on the planet apart via control of the world's magnetic field and with Jean, putting the Xavier Institute back together from scratch.
  • Fantastic Radiation Shielding: His helmet protects him from various mutants' psychic powers.
  • Faux Affably Evil: If you aren't on his side, he can be downright terrifying and still sound unfailingly polite. When Pyro expresses disappointment that he wasn't the one to kill Professor X, Magneto gives him a rather grandfatherly talking-to...with an unspoken, but very real assurance that the next ill words Pyro speaks of Charles Xavier would be his last.
  • First-Name Basis: In the films, just like in the comics, he and Charles Xavier always use their first names when speaking to or about each other. Only a handful of others are on a first-name basis with them.
    • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, while the public and most other characters refer to him and Raven (Mystique) by their mutant code names, Charles and Hank still remain on a first name basis with both of them, and vice versa. This is also presumably true for Alex, who still addresses his former ally as Erik.
  • Foil:
    • X-Men: First Class: He and Charles are juxtaposed in their respective Argentinian bar and Oxford pub scenes. The sober Lehnsherr is all business when he's hunting down Nazis, and he murders three men (including the bartender) in cold blood after taunting his prey. The inebriated Xavier is the life of a party when he and his fellow graduate students celebrate the successful defense of his PhD thesis, and he later tries to flirt with Agent MacTaggert. Producer Bryan Singer gives a very basic summary of their differences in the "Magneto the Survivor" featurette:
      "Ultimately, they come from different places. Erik Lehnsherr is a victim of the Holocaust, he probably left the war with nothing, and is very much a solitary man, while Xavier had a life of privilege, became a professor at Oxford, was surrounded by peers, has an intimate relationship with Mystique since childhood, so he's quite loved, and therefore quite idealistic, less embittered, and just has a very different view from Lehnsherr."
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Both past and future Magneto contrast each other in the film. 1973 Magneto continues to move forward with mutant supremacy and attacking Charles and his group, while future Magneto was fighting to protect both mankind and mutants while lamenting his pointless struggles with Charles in their younger years. Past Erik is very much on his own, but his elderly counterpart is a valuable team member.
      • Past Magneto and Past Xavier were both inactive and isolated in between 1963 and 1973 (the former due to imprisonment, the latter due to depression). Erik shows signs of wanting to repair some of their previous friendship, but a bitter Charles isn't interested for the most part. Magneto tries to kill Mystique while Xavier tries to protect her. Hank remains unwaveringly devoted to Charles, but Erik loses Mystique's loyalty after the murder attempt. In X-Men: First Class, Erik personified "rage" while Charles embodied "serenity," but their roles are reversed in 1973. Xavier is now the one who is full of pain and anger, and therefore has great trouble wielding his telepathy, whereas Magneto is (relatively) calm and controlled, still possessing great mastery over his power despite being deprived of metal for a decade. (We even see Erik adopt a meditation pose in his prison cell, which makes him appear Zen-like.)
      • Wolverine and the younger Magneto are violent individuals who love Xavier, but whereas Jerk with a Heart of Gold Logan possesses Undying Loyalty towards Charles, Jerk with a Heart of Jerk Erik is quick to betray him, until he finally does the reverse and pulls a Heel–Face Turn in X-Men: Apocalypse.
  • Freudian Excuse: A former victim of the Holocaust believing humanity will subjugate mutants the same way.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: After he loses his family, he's in so much grief that he's willing to follow Apocalypse, who convinces Erik that he's God, and God has granted Magneto a divine purpose.
  • Friendly Enemy: To Charles Xavier. Their relationship stretches the definition of "friendly" about as far as it will go but it's there. They have the utmost respect for one another and used to be close companions but just about every differing point between them comes from a place of vitriolic and passionate division (to the point both refuse to see a future where the other's point of view can exist, it is a mutually exclusive matter of black-and-white difference in opinion).
  • The Fundamentalist: Without a doubt believes mutants are the superior species and humans will fight against their extinction.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: When he meets Raven in X-Men: Days of Future Past, he appears noticeably distressed before picking up a gun and apologizing then claiming mutants will never be safe with her alive before shooting at her.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: His moral standing across the films has variously been Nominal Hero, Anti-Hero, Anti-Villain, The Atoner, and Well-Intentioned Extremist. Magneto is rarely a straight villain and even more rarely a straight hero, but in the meantime he wavers all the way between the two.
    • The version of Magneto from the second timeline in particular embodies this trope, having changed sides eight separate times over the course of the series.note 
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: In Dark Phoenix, he starts off as a neutral figure, and then dons his trademark helmet when he becomes an antagonist shortly afterward. He teams up with the X-Men at the beginning of the third act right after his helmet is destroyed in a fight.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Considering that his and Charles' friendship only lasted a couple months, at most, in X-Men: First Class, it was unusually intimate on an emotional level.
    • Played straight in X-Men: Days of Future Past, with his older self and Professor X (the moment where they're holding hands is the closest that we've seen them since First Class), but averted with their younger selves. In 1973, Charles never once calls him "friend" (although Erik uses the endearment twice), which goes to show how broken their relationship is.
  • He Who Fights Monsters:
    • X-Men: Director Bryan Singer explains in the September 2000 issue of SFX:
      "...the paradox in Magneto's character is that he was the victim and then becomes the aggressor. It's like he's slowly become these people who persecuted him and murdered his family right in front of him. He became embittered. You get angry enough and you start forgetting."
    • X-Men: First Class: He hates Shaw and wants to kill him, but he eventually embraces Shaw's beliefs about mutant supremacy. It's even spelled out through the villain wearing the same helmet that Magneto is associated with. Justified at the crucial moment because he separates revenge from his ideals, which is why he's able to compliment Shaw's vision while still hating the man to his core. Shaw the man wronged him terribly, but Shaw the visionary is inspirational.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: He has a tendency to hijack the plans of the villains of the films in retaliation against them.
    • X2: X-Men United: After stopping Stryker's plan to kill all mutants with a fake Cerebro, he decides to reprogram the machine to kill regular humans instead.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Young Magneto hijacks the Sentinels to attempt killing both Bolivar Trask and President Nixon.
    • X-Men: First Class features a variation: once Erik kills Shaw, he basically embraces his evil nature and attempts to wipe out the American and Soviet fleets.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Invokes this on so many occasions, such as threatening dozens of policemen with their own guns, using Dark Cerebro to kill all humans after it was just used in an attempt to kill all mutants, as well as killing multiple soldiers by pulling off the pins on their grenades, hurling missiles at ships that just fired them, and using the Sentinels during the DisasterousDemonstration in the past to attack the spectators.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Believing humans will continue to grow and despise mutants he maintains this belief. Though it doesn't really help his case when he keeps doing actions that make people fear him.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Despite claiming to help his fellow mutants, Magneto has no qualms on attacking and even killing other mutants who stand in the way of his anti-human crusade.
    • Magneto is motivated by his memories of enduring the Holocaust during World War II and believes mutants will be subjected to the same treatment as the Jews in Nazi Germany if they do not fight back. This leads to him falling victim to He Who Fights Monsters, becoming a genocidal racist just as bad as the Nazis.
    • In X-Men, he is willing to sacrifice Rogue but not himself in the advancement of his cause. Beautifully called out by Wolverine, who tells him: "You're so full of shit. If you were really so righteous, it would be you up in that thing." Erik levitates away without replying, but the expression on his face makes it clear the remark hit home.
    • At the climax of X-Men: Days of Future Past, his past-self sics a Sentinel on Wolverine and Beast, after a grand speech about how he will protect mutantkind.
    • In Dark Phoenix he tells Jean about the futility of killing for revenge, and how it never made the pain he felt go away. Then, when he finds out Jean killed Mystique, he almost immediately decides to kill her in revenge - though that could simply be the difference between knowing it intellectually and his emotional reaction.

  • Improvised Weapon: As long as it's metal, Magneto's powers let him use anything as a weapon. He has killed people with such things as a coin and a locket.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: In X-Men: Days of Future Past, he tells Raven he tried to kill her because he was aware of the impending Sentinel menace and came to the conclusion that the only way to prevent it would be if she was permanently dispatched.
  • I Hate Past Me: In X-Men: Days of Future Past right before Kitty sends Wolverine back in time, he worries that his and Charles' past-selves won't understand the nightmarish situation in the Bad Future and be able to fix things.
    Erik: It's not [Wolverine] I'm worried about, it's us. We were young, we didn't know any better.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Was one in X-Men: First Class until Charles convinced him he could do better with friends of his own, and in the ending he begins building his brotherhood of mutants.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: He was a classic example of Tall, Dark, and Handsome when he was a young man (and he has aged gracefully over the years).
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He did make the fair point towards Charles that he grew up with Raven, and shouldn't have entirely claimed responsibility for raising her, which did in part drive her away from him. He’s also quite astute in his rebuttal against Charles claiming that he abandoned him. Magneto was fighting for mutantkind and then improssoned while Xavier shut himself away in his mansion during which most of the cast from first class were killed.
  • Just the Way You Are: In X-Men: First Class, he is able to persuade Raven to his side finding her mutant appearance to be "perfection" in contrast to Charles and Hank, who feel she should look more "normal" to gain acceptance within society.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • At the end of X-Men United, he escapes after attempting to wipe out all non-mutants.
    • At the end of The Last Stand, he sneaks away when the Dark Phoenix awakens and realizes on his own that the effects of the mutant cure are only temporary.
    • In Apocalypse, he murders a bunch of policemen and creates a magnetic field that caused a lot of damage across the globe, but is let off the hook because he helped kill En Sabah Nur. However, this could be explained by the fact that he's so powerful at this point that there's no way to reasonably contain him.
    • In Dark Phoenix he instigates a battle against the X-Men in the streets of New York, including his ripping a subway train out the ground and using it as a battering ram against the D'Bari stronghold, all in an attempt to kill Jean, but later fights alongside the X-Men to save her after Charles manages to sway him. By the end of the film he's openly wandering the streets of Paris without any repercussions, and even invites Xavier to come to Genosha with him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Some of his victims include Nazis, Sebastian Shaw and the corrupt, violent slob in charge of his prison cell. He also chained William Stryker back up and left him to die at the end of X2: X-Men United.
  • Knight Templar: Wants to stop mutant prejudice... by subjugating humans.
  • Lean and Mean: Magneto seems to have little-to-no fat on his body. It makes sense, given that he's a Holocaust survivor who spent his early life on the road.
  • Loner-Turned-Friend: In X-Men: First Class when he met Charles Xavier and his group.
  • Made of Iron: His younger self is quite capable of taking a beating. In X-Men: First Class he gets thrown off a boat by Emma Frost in diamond form and was being thrown across a room by Shaw crashing into mirrors. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, he took head injuries from Beast and nearly drowned before restraining him only needing a head stitching after - a head stitching he performed himself while examining the schematics of the Sentinel's and without even twitching at the pain. His older self also survived a blast from Cyclops in the first film, and in X-Men: Days of Future Past continued to protect the group from the Sentinels with a shard having pierced his abdomen.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Best demonstrated as he convinces Pyro and in the prequel series, Raven, to defect to his side.
  • Meaningful Name: Erik means "ruler" and Lehnsherr can be roughly translated as "feudal lord" (lehn = fief, herr = master). Magneto's birth name betrays his ambition to rule over humans.
  • Mook Horror Show: Several films have him performing one.
    • The Nazis at the bar in First Class.
    • The security guards in Days of Future Past when he reclaims his helmet, done while sharply dressed wearing shades and a fedora.
    • And in Apocalypse, he does it again to the policemen sent to bring him in after one of them accidentally kills his wife and daughter. With a locket.
  • Motive Rant: Delivers one to Senator Kelly after capturing him in X-Men.
    Magneto: Are you a god-fearing man, senator? That's such a strange phrase. I've always thought of God as a teacher, as a bringer of light, wisdom, and understanding; you see, I think what you really are afraid of is me. Me and my kind, the Brotherhood of Mutants. Though it's not so surprising really. Mankind has always feared what it doesn't understand. Well, don't fear God, Senator, and certainly don't fear me. (in an undertone) Not anymore.
  • My Greatest Failure: The death of Xavier in X-Men: The Last Stand, which he directly caused by awakening Dark Phoenix.
    Magneto: Charles Xavier did more for mutants than you'll ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: X-Men: The Last Stand features him saying the line, when he finds himself on the other side of the Mutants vs. Humans war he's been pushing for, and Phoenix finally goes crazy and starts killing people.
  • Nazi Hunter: He spends the first twenty minutes or so of his screentime in X-Men: First Class tracking down and killing Nazis. In fact, his reason for joining the X-Men is so that he can find and kill Sebastian Shaw, the mutant Nazi who killed his mother.
  • The Needs of the Many: In X-Men: Days of Future Past.
    Erik: Forgive me Mystique, as long as you're out there we'll never be safe.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: He is both a Holocaust Survivor and mutant "lab rat" which pushes him towards Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us regarding mutant suppression by the humans.
  • New Era Speech: Gets one in Days of Future Past, delivered on national television before the Presidential cabinet.
    Magneto: You built these weapons to destroy us. Why? Because you are afraid of our gifts. Because we are different. Humanity has always feared that which is different. Well, I'm here to tell you, to tell the world, you're right to fear us. We are the future. We are the ones who will inherit this earth, and anyone who stands in our way will suffer the same fate as these men you see before you. Today was meant to be a display of your power. Instead I give you a glimpse of the devastation my race can unleash upon yours. Let this be a warning to the world. And to my mutant brothers and sisters out there, I say this; no more hiding, no more suffering. You have lived in the shadows in shame and fear for too long. Come out, join me. Fight together in the brotherhood of our kind. A new tomorrow, that starts today.
  • Nice Hat: Occasionally wears a fedora while in civilian garb, as shown in X-Men when he attends the hearing on mutants at the beginning of the film and in X-Men: Days of Future Past when he raids the vault for his helmet.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Attacking Mystique at the Paris Peace Conference bought Bolivar Trask a couple extra days and gets Nixon to fund the Sentinel program, but his betrayal and attack on the White House sets up a situation where a mutant is seen saving Nixon's life on live TV. Mystique performs a Heel–Face Turn, Nixon cancels the Sentinel program, and the Bad Future is averted.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Everyone in X-Men: First Class, tells Raven that her true form as Mystique is horrifying, but Eric tells her that she is beautiful as she is, and that taking on a more normal looking appearance is wasteful of her powers, and limits her concentration against unexpected attacks. In X-Men: The Last Stand however, when Mystique shields Magneto from being struck by darts containing the Mutant Cure, he coldly abandons her now that she's human, regretfully telling Pyro that she used to be "so beautiful."
  • Noble Demon: At his fundamental core, Magneto wishes to protect innocent minorities from genocidal persecution at the hands of murderous racists, no matter what it takes.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In X-Men: First Class, when he confronts the villain Sebastian Shaw at the end:
    Erik Lehnsherr: If you're in there, I'd like you to know that I agree with every word you said. We are the future. But unfortunately, you killed my mother.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: His daughter is killed by Polish policemen in one of the most heartbreaking moments of the whole film franchise.
  • Overarching Villain: Magneto is the central antagonist of the first trilogy. In the prequels, he usurps the role of Big Bad from Shaw and Trask, before pulling a Heel–Face Turn at the very end of X-Men: Apocalypse. However, he comes to oppose the X-Men once again in the following film, only to ultimately join their battle against Vuk during the climax.
  • Parental Abandonment: His father is nowhere to be seen, and his mother is executed before him by Shaw to try and induce his magnetism powers.
  • Pet the Dog: He was the first person in Raven's life that complimented and truly admired her natural blue form. Also, upon reveal he compliments Hank, although it isn't met with a kind reaction from Beast, who believed he was being mocked.
  • Physical God: While always immensely powerful, he becomes this in X-Men: Apocalypse, being on the verge of tearing apart the planet (as one character puts it, "destroying everything built since the Bronze Age") while maintaining an impenetrable forcefield. Moreover, Charles implies that unlike the other Horsemen, Apocalypse didn't actually enhance him, he just tapped into his rage and pain, meaning that he had this potential all along.
  • Power Floats: Can fly by manipulating the Earth's magnetic field.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: He delivers one to Sebastion Shaw as Charles holds control of Shaw's body.
    "This is what we're going to do. [holds up the coin] I am going to count to three and I'm going to move the coin. One. [moves the coin towards Shaw's head] Two. Three." [puts the coin through Shaw's head, Charles screams].
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: X-Men: First Class revolves around him seeking revenge for the murder of his mother and his increasing acceptance of mutant supremacy.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: His outfits typically have a lot of dark red and dark grey. The dark grey is accentuated in the older Magneto's costumes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In X-Men: First Class, he is rather hot-headed while Charles is more level-headed. ''Empire'' magazine even color-coded the front covers of their May 2011 issue accordingly.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • In X-Men: First Class, he hunts down Shaw and his Nazi underlings to exact revenge for the death of his mother. He succeeds in giving the latter ones horrific deaths, but is effortlessly defeated by Emma Frost when he tries to do the same to the former.
    • In X-Men: Apocalypse, he uses his family medallion to slaughter the whole Polish police squad that has been sent to arrest him after they killed his daughter and wife by accident. He then goes on to kill his co-workers at the steel plant after one of them denounced him. Apocalypse arrives just as Erik was about to kill them, and sucks them all into the floor.
    • In Dark Phoenix, after learning that Jean killed Raven in a case of Power Incontinence, he immediately grabs his old helmet and heads to New York to get revenge.
  • Rousing Speech: On several occasions he's persuaded mutants to follow his cause and fight along himself. Most notably, when he attacked the white house and on a live broadcast declared mutants come out of hiding because they are more powerful than the humans who would try to eliminate them. This is after he discredited the Sentinel program and held the president cabinet at gun point.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: In X-Men: First Class, he is the Manly Man to Charles' Sensitive Guy. They display this dynamic in their personalities (Anti-Hero vs. All-Loving Hero) and physique (Tall, Dark, and Handsome vs. Pretty Boy) as well as their philosophies and methods (Pay Evil unto Evil vs. Wide-Eyed Idealist).
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Delivered one to Xavier in X-Men: First Class.
    Xavier: There are thousands of men on those ships. Good, honest, innocent men! They're just following orders.
    Erik: I've been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.
  • Slasher Smile: He sports a brief one when he rips iron from a guard's body in X2.
  • Slave Brand: The tattoo number of a Nazi concentration camp he carries upon his forearm, which he has brought attention towards to serve as a reminder for human cruelty.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: In the original trilogy, Magneto starts out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist bent on turning regular humans into mutants. Come X2, he instead wishes to commit genocide against mankind, but still cares about mutant lives. But he is at his worst in The Last Stand, where he recklessly chooses to sacrifice his troops in Alcatraz, comparing them to the pawns in a Chess game.
  • The Social Darwinist: He believes mutants are the superior species towards humans.
  • Start of Darkness: X-Men: First Class devotes itself to his gradual transformation into the human-hating supremacist he is today, courtesy of his past as a Holocaust survivor and his affinity with Shaw's ideology.
  • Stealth Pun: Michael Fassbender kept his natural auburn hair for the role in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which makes him... Erik the Red.note 
    • Also, an alias Magneto himself used once, during the "Trial of Gambit" debacle. And one a Shiar spy on Earth used. Not so much a Stealth Pun as a Mythology Gag.
  • Super Reflexes: In X-Men: First Class, he's fairly confident he can stop a bullet shot point blank from his head. Later, he more or less holds true to his claim by stopping a horde of missiles fired by the US and Russian army within several feet from the air to him, and deflecting bullets while being shot at by Moira MacTaggert.
    • As an older man, however, his reflexes have notably slowed, as shown X-Men: Days of Future Past, when it takes him several moments to respond to and restrain a thrashing Logan - long enough for him to gash Kitty - and he doesn't quite catch all of the X-Jet's shrapnel.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: In First Class, his target being Shaw, who killed his mother and tortured him.
  • Tailor-Made Prison:
    • At the end of X-Men, Magneto is locked in a cell made entirely of plastic. He got out in X2: X-Men United, thanks to Mystique giving one of his guards an "iron supplement," actually at least half a pound of the stuff, in liquid form. In real life, this would have given him iron poisoning, but he didn't survive long enough to find that out.
    • Subverted in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The concrete cell under the Pentagon was not built specifically for him, but simply constructed that way because steel was being rationed at the time. It still holds him quite well, though.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: In his youth, as shown in the First Class trilogy.
  • Team Dad: In X-Men: First Class he was the more stern and less nurturing parental figure for the proto X-Men, opposite Charles' Team Mom. This is what makes the "Beach Divorce" scene so much more tragic.
  • Team Member in the Adaptation: He was never a Horsemen in the comics. This version also forms the Brotherhood by taking control of the Hellfire Club after killing Shaw.
  • That Man Is Dead:
    • X-Men: First Class: The film ends with him outright proclaiming that he prefers his new moniker: Magneto.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Charles pleads with him not to join Apocalypse, but Lehnsherr has already reclaimed his Magneto persona.
    Xavier: Erik, don't join them.
    Magneto: Whatever it is you think you saw in me, I buried it with my family.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: He has been portrayed by four actors in three note  different stages of his life.
  • Tired of Running: Inspires mutant followers to stop hiding and accept themselves, while turning on the humans who would target them.
  • Too Happy to Live: His life in Poland in Apocalypse looks too happy to last as he is spotted and unmasked by authorities and both his wife and daughter die tragically.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In First Class after Charles unlocks his full potential and in Apocalypse when the titular character gives him a boost.
  • Tragic Keepsake: When he first met Sebastian Shaw, he was asked to move a Nazi Coin in exchange for his mother's life but was unable to do so and she was murdered. He carried the coin for most of his life until he moved it through Shaw's head, killing him.
  • Tragic Villain: Possibly the archetypal example.
    Charles: Listen to me very carefully my friend... killing Shaw will not bring you peace.
    Erik: Peace was never an option.
    Erik: Is this what you want from me?! Is this what I am?
  • Tranquil Fury: In X-Men: First Class, his powers are manifested through anger, until Charles helps by telling him "true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity."
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Shaw had Erik awaken control of his magnetism by murdering his mother.
  • Troubled, but Cute: In X-Men: First Class, pre-supervillainy, he is a Nazi-hunting Byronic Hero with an intensely Dark and Troubled Past (involving the Holocaust, loss of his parents, and being a victim of human experimentation) and bucketloads of trauma and cynicism. He also wears a leather jacket on a few occasions.
  • Villain Has a Point: Magneto believes humans and mutants can never co-exist and fears the crimes of the Holocaust will be repeated against mutants one day. The Bad Future in Days of Future Past shows he's absolutely right; humans have created the Sentinels to hunt down and exterminate mutants, who are being herded into camps to be killed or experimented on en masse. Far before then, however, in First Class the U.S. and Soviet fleets open fire on the assembled mutants at Cuba simply because they are mutants, making no distinction between the ones that just fought to save them and the ones that were trying to kill them. Even when mutants do things right by humans (Mystique saving President Nixon in Days of Future Past), humans still screw them over, as shown in Logan when the mutants are on the verge of extinction again.
  • Villainous Legacy: He ends up killing Shaw out of revenge, but he fully agrees with Shaw's goal; that is, Mutants needing supremacy over humans to thrive, and carries it over from him.
  • Visionary Villain: He wants to create a world safe for mutants by any means necessary.
  • The Unfettered: If it means the safety of mutants he'll kill anyone from the President or even Mystique.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: His future self ultimately regrets fighting Charles for so long, and wishes he had some of those years back.
  • We Can Rule Together: An open door he extends to any mutant willing to see things his way, all the way up to and including Professor Xavier himself. Some accept and the ones who don't usually swing to Xavier's point of view.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He has always been the archetypal example in comics and the films faithfully live up to that. He puts forth a big effort to allow mutants to come out of hiding and gain acceptance of themselves but at the same time opposes humans who would threaten them, believing war is inevitable. His plan in X-Men, is actually rather benevolent and would finally end the division between Mutants and the rest of Mankind, while sacrificing only Rogue to make it work. It's a good plan (though not necessarily one that would work in the long run), it's just a shame his machine doesn't work!
  • We Used to Be Friends: The whole premise of X-Men: First Class is to show how he and Charles Xavier became friends and then ended up on opposite sides with different ideals.
  • What the Hell Are You?: In X-Men: First Class, we have the following conversation:
    Former Nazi Officer: [in German] Who—what are you?
    Erik: [in English] Let's just say I'm Frankenstein's Monster... and I'm looking for my creator.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In X-Men: Days of Future Past, his past self goes into an outburst about how fellow mutants were being killed left and right while Young Charles has been in hiding with Hank.
    Erik: Angel, Azazel, Emma, Banshee. Mutant brothers and sisters, all dead! Countless others, experimented on! Butchered! Where were you, Charles?! We were supposed to protect them! Where were you when your own people needed you?! Hiding! You and Hank! Pretending to be something you're not! You abandoned us all!
  • Wicked Cultured: Mags always enjoy a good game of chess with Xavier or listening to classical music.
  • With Us or Against Us: Concerning the mutants who choose to fight with him or against him, namely the X-men.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Each film of the new timeline keeps piling on the trauma that fuels his rage. In First Class he was a Holocaust survivor who had to watch his mother die in front of his eyes, and worse, it was because he couldn't consciously use his powers at the time. In Days of Future Past the Brotherhood were killed and experimented on by Trask Industries. In Apocalypse, after giving living in peace a chance, his wife and daughter are killed after his cover is blown as a mutant. All of this leads to him becoming an extremist willing to kill countless numbers of people. Highlighted in X-Men: First Class and arguably even more so in X-Men: Apocalypse, since he's quite literally out to destroy the world.
  • Worthy Opponent: He and Xavier have this relationship.
    Magneto: Charles Xavier did more for mutants than you will ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • X-Men: He forcibly places Rogue into his machine, knowing full well that it will kill her.
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • He cracks Emma Frost's crystalline neck after she refuses to cooperate.
      • He nearly strangles Moira to death with her own military dog tags, although Xavier manages to talk him out of it.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: He would have murdered Mystique if it weren't for Beast's timely intervention.
    • Dark Phoenix: He attempts to murder Jean when he learns she killed Mystique. Later on, he finds himself alone against Vuk on the Mutant Containment Unit's train, uses his power to pick up every remaining gun, and empties them all into her at point-blank range. Thanks to Vuk's innate Healing Factor and getting an upgrade from absorbing the Phoenix, she blows this off without a scratch.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In X-Men: The Last Stand, he orders Juggernaut to kill Leech.
  • You Are Number 6: In X-Men: First Class, he outs himself as a holocaust survivor to some Nazis he was amicably chatting with (and planning to kill). When they asked for the names of his parents, being from the same town, he answered that they "had no names—they were stolen from them" before showing his own concentration camp number. Violence ensues.
  • You Are What You Hate: He hates Nazis due to being a survivor of the Holocaust, but ultimately embraces racism against non-mutants, this is highlighted in X-Men: First Class.
  • You Killed My Father: In X-Men: First Class, when he kills Schmidt/Shaw despite agreeing with his Mutant Supremacist ideals because Schmidt killed his mother in front of him as a child.
    Magneto: I want you to know I agree with everything you just said. We are the future. But, unfortunately... you killed my mother.
  • Younger Than They Look: In X-Men: First Class, Erik is around the same age as Charles (late twenties/early thirties), but the former appears considerably older because Michael Fassbender looks older than his actual age (he has a lot of lines on his face) while the baby-faced James McAvoy looks younger despite there being a only two-year age gap between the two actors. This can be Handwaved as Erik ageing prematurely because of the trauma and starvation he experienced during World War II.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Magneto


No One Ever Talks About It

Magneto appears within a community meeting for Mutants to discuss the cure that Worthington Labs is creating to do away with mutations.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoUntoUs

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Main / DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoUntoUs