|Appeared in|| X-Men|
X2: X-Men United
X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men: First Class
X-Men: Days of Future Past
|Status|| Deceased (Original Timeline)|
Alive (New Timeline)
|Actor|| Ian McKellen|
- "This society won't accept us. We form our own. The humans have played their hand, now we get ready to play ours. Who's with me?"
Erik M. Lehnsherr, also known as Magneto, is one of the world's most powerful mutants and the X-Men's most dangerous foe. His incredible ability to manipulate magnetic fields allows him to control all forms of metal by using his mind. Unlike Professor Xavier who dreams of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants, Magneto believes the only way he can protect his fellow mutants from persecution is by conquering the earth. Magneto has formed the Brotherhood of Mutants that he now leads in his quest for world domination for homo superior. The only ones that can stand in their way are the X-Men.
X-Men and X-Men: First Class prologue
In Poland of 1944, Erik Lensherr was forcibly separated from his parents by Nazi soldiers in an Auschwitz concentration camp in a German-occupied Poland during WWII. Under this stress, Lensherr tried running back to his parents before gates closed. Nazi soldiers began grabbing him to prevent Erik from escaping. He reached his arm out toward a metal gate and his powers began to manifest. Dr. Klaus Schmidt watches outside of his office window being knocked unconscious. Other soldiers look at the gate he bent and immediately report to Schmidt. When Erik wakes up he finds himself inside a medical room where Dr. Schmidt is checking on him.
- "Let's just say I'm Frankenstein's Monster... And I'm looking for my creator."
- ―Erik Lehnsherr[src]
Sometime later, he encounters the Nazi collaborator named Dr. Klaus Schimdt (AKA, Sebastian Shaw). Shaw, at first tried to make Erik move a small coin in exchange for some chocolate. When Erik couldn't do it, Shaw apologized and had his guards bring in his mother and then told Erik if he could not move the coin after he counted to three, he'll spare his mother. Shaw counted to three and after Erik tried, Shaw murdered Erik's mother, thus making Erik angry and able to move and destroy everything metal in the room along with killing the guards by crushing their helmets. When the destruction ended, Erik started crying and Schmidt gave him the Nazi coin Erik tried to move. Shaw continued to torture him over the next several years in an attempt to draw out the boy's mutant powers through his anger. After the conclusion of the second World War, Erik spent years trying to find Shaw and exact vengeance, murdering other Nazis and innocent bystanders along the way.
In 1962, Erik was working on looking for Shaw and goes to a bank and asks the banker where Shaw is. When the banker refuses he starts interrogating him and trying to pull his metal filling out with his powers. He eventually tells him that Schmidt is in Argentina.
After this point, he goes to Argentina looking for Shaw. He arrives at a bar and sees a picture of two Nazis beside him. When Erik is having a beer, he finds the two Nazis and asks them what brings them to Argentina. One replies he is a pig farmer and the other says he's a barber. He sits down with them and talks to them. When they are drinking they notice his arm is down. Erik lifts up his arm and a bar fight begins. One of the Nazis tries to stab him with a knife but Erik stabs his hand. The bartender tells him to freeze asshole with a gun pointing at him and uses his powers to make him shoot the other Nazi. He magnetically puts the knife through the bartender and back at the Nazi. He asks who is he and Erik responds he's looking for his creator. He picks up the gun and shoots the Nazi.
He eventually tracked Shaw down to a small boat off the American coast during the height of the Cold War. His attempt at revenge was cut short when he was pummeled by Shaw's cohorts in his Hellfire Club, being no match for their mutant powers. Erik then jumped into the water and tried to crush Shaws submarine, but then Xavier got him to stop. It was at this point that he met Charles Xavier and Raven Darkholme, who were present as help in a botched CIA attempt to capture Shaw, wanted for the murder of an American colonel.
Together and with CIA support, Xavier and Erik gathered a team of mutant teenagers to battle the Hellfire Club, who were attempting to start a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States as part of a plot to eradicate non-mutant life on the planet and rule over the new world order. Xavier helped the teens master their powers at his mansion, including Erik. During this time, the two become close friends. However, Erik was still filled with hatred for Shaw and feared a mutant holocaust, despite Xavier's attempts to get him to let go of his hatred. Erik also motivated Mystique to become proud of her appearance, believing her desire to get rid of her blue appearance was wrong. During a mission to Russia, Erik and Xavier captured the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost.
Ultimately, the team had to jump into action to prevent the Cuban Missile Crisis from causing World War III. The Hellfire Club was also present and attempted to stop the CIA-sanctioned mutant team, but was defeated. During the encounter, Erik confronted Shaw, who attempted to bring the troubled young man to his side with promises of a new, mutant world order. Although he found he agreed with Shaw's goals, Erik refused to forgive him for what he did to his mother. Despite Xavier's pleas to be the better man, Erik killed Shaw by slowly sending a coin through his brain.
When the United States and the Soviet Union struck up a quick alliance to destroy the mutants that threatened them, Magneto sent their missiles back at the fleet. Xavier tackled him and the two engaged in a fist fight, which distracted Erik long enough to prevent the missiles from killing those at sea. During a subsequent attempt by a CIA officer to shoot Erik, one of the bullets he deflected struck Xavier in the lower back, permanently crippling him. Horrified at what had transpired, Erik bid farewell to his close friend, departing with Mystique and the remaining Hellfire Club members with the vow of destroying humankind in order to save mutants. He later broke Frost out of prison, declaring himself Magneto and establishing his first Brotherhood of Mutants.
By 1973, Erik was locked up in a maximum security cell in the Pentagon for allegedly assassinating John F. Kennedy in 1963 by curving the bullet that struck him.
Magneto was still imprisoned when Trask was killed by Mystique.
20 Years Before X-Men: The Last Stand
At some point, Magneto was released or escaped from prison. He later rejoined Charles on good terms and visited Jean Grey.
- " We are the future, Charles, not them. They no longer matter."
Years later, Magneto attended the senate where they spoke out about mutants and was then approached by his old friend Charles Xavier. They talked about the past and Charles said that he's looking for hope. Erik replied that he'll bring him hope. As he walked away, he says that mutants are the future.
After the attack in Alberta by Sabretooth, Magneto discovered Wolverine's dog tags. When Mystique captured Robert Kelly, Magneto used the mutation machine on him, turning him into a "rubbery" mutant unaware that the machine would cause humans to lose their molecular structure. As a mutant, Kelly tried to escape Magneto's base with his powers and fell into the lake below.
Later, Magneto pursued the mutant Rogue. He found her at a train station and his Brotherhood attacked it. He had a brief fight with Wolverine and successfully captured Rogue by using a dart and puts her unconscious body in a bag. Outside, police gather around him, Toad, and Sabretooth. He lifts up the cars and drops them on others. He also uses his powers to switch the policemen's guns around so they're pointing at them. In one car, Xavier and Jean Grey were watching. Xavier used his telepathy to control the minds of Sabretooth and Toad in order to talk Erik out of his plans. Magneto shot one of the police but held the bullet back as a bargaining chip with Charles. Eventually, Mystique arrived in a helicopter and picked up her team mates.
At Liberty Island, the X-Men (after battling and defeating Mystique and Toad) were locked to the walls by metal strips by Magneto. He forced Wolverine's arms against his chest not knowing that he has a healing factor. Sabretooth arrived and took Cyclops's visor, forcing him to shut his eyes. Magneto was warned of the dangers of the machine by Jean Grey and Storm, and chose not to believe them. He lifted himself out and up to where he was keeping Rogue, ready to give her some of his power so she could use the machine.
From the tower he saw Sabretooth blasted to the water below. Wolverine was lifted up to the Statue. Wolverine tried to destroy the machine before it could infect the human, Magneto stopped him and started to bend his claws while Rogue started to grow a white streak in her hair from the stress of powering the machine. Cyclops blasted Magneto allowing Wolverine to destroy the machine before it could affect them. Magneto was then captured by the government and was locked up in a plastic prison.
Later, Charles visited Magneto and the old friends played chess and talked about their past and the war between humans and mutants. Before Xavier left, Magneto remarked that "there is a war coming Charles and I intend to fight it."
- "The war has begun."
Magneto was still held in his plastic and glass prison six months after his attack in New York. He was brutally interrogated by William Stryker and unwillingly gave him information on the X-Men, X-Mansion, the X-Jet, and Cerebro. Xavier and Cyclops visited him but it was a trap to capture Charles. Later, when his guard gave him his lunch, he sensed that a strong amount of liquid metal was in his blood and he took the metal and used it to break out of prison.
As the X-Men were flying out of control, Magneto saved them. He and Mystique made a temporary alliance with the X-Men in order to stop Stryker. They broke into Alkali Lake to stop Styker from using Cerebro to kill all of mutant kind. However, he arrived too late as once they reached the door the process had begun so he quickly opened the doors and used Jason to order Charles to attack humans instead.
Magneto, Mystique and Pyro left Alkali Lake after Magneto chained Stryker down so he couldn't escape the flood.
After leaving Alkali Lake, he expanded the Brotherhood of Mutants and recruited many more mutants. He showed genuine grief over Xavier's death, speaking severely to Pyro when the latter stated that he would have killed Xavier himself had Magneto asked it of him ("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."). After learning that a major company has produced a cure for the mutant gene from a young mutant known as Leech, he and his Brotherhood attacked the facility, forcing the X-Men to defend it. Wolverine and Beast worked together and inject Magneto with the "cure," which strips him of his powers. Some time after the attack, he extended his hand toward a metal chess piece and was able to move it a tiny bit, suggesting that the cure may not have been permanent and may not have rendered him completely powerless.
- "There are dark forces, Wolverine. Human forces building weapons that could bring about the end of our kind. I want your help."
- ―Erik Lehnsherr[src]
Sometime later, the effects of the cure wore off. Magneto met up with Logan in an airport. Erik explained that something was wrong and that he needs his help, although Logan doesn't believe him. Magneto knew Wolverine wouldn't trust him so brought a friend. Everyone around them froze and Professor Xavier revealed himself; alive and well, and recruited Logan to aid in a threat that required the reformation of the X-Men.
- "All those years wasted fighting each other Charles. To have a precious few of them back..."
- ―Magneto's last words to Charles[src]
Magneto was partnered with Charles and the remaining mutants when the dark future began, and survived with them. In 2023, the group arrived in China, meeting with the others at a desolate Chinese monastery. As Kitty Pryde sent Logan's mind back into the past, Magneto observed with the others for a short while. When a horde of Sentinels interfered with the process, Magneto went outside to defend the others, breaking down the X-Jet and sending the pieces flying towards the Sentinels, destroying dozens of them, as well as their carrier ships.
Lehnsherr was critically wounded by a piece of shrapnel. Resigned to his fate, Magneto travelled through a small portal opened by Blink, which sent him into the monastery, where he slowly succumbed to his wounds as the other mutants are killed horrifically by the surviving Sentinels. In his final moments he confessed to his life long friend Xavier, telling him that they spent so much time fighting each other and never seen the real threat.
Requiring Erik's help to change the past, to help prevent an apocalyptic future from being brought about by Mystique killing Bolivar Trask, Wolverine, Xavier, and Hank break him out, with the help of Peter Maximoff, a mutant with superhuman speed.
While on a jet to the Paris summit, the tension is still hot between Xavier and Erik, as the former blames the latter for his inability to walk properly, as well as abandoning him. Erik fires back that Xavier abandoned them, as many of their former allies have since been killed by Trask. Erik's anger almost causes the jet to decompress and nearly crash into the ocean, but he cools off.
As the two play chess, Erik tries to assure Xavier that he did not kill JFK, but was trying to save him, since he claims that JFK was a mutant.
On the day of the summit, the mutants make their way into the building to find Mystique, arriving just in time to stop her. Stryker shoots his taser gun at her, but Erik uses his powers to pull the tasers off and throw them back into Stryker.
As Xavier tries to hold her down, Erik realizes that everything can be prevented if he just kills Mystique. He grabs his gun and aims it at her, but she runs out the window. Erik fires a shot and manipulates the bullet to follow Mystique out the window, striking her in the leg.
Outside, the people in the crowd see Mystique as she falls to the ground wounded. She turns into a regular bystander and tries to flee, but Erik can see her limping, and, with the bullet still in her leg, he is able to pull her toward him. He lifts the bullet out and nearly throws it into her head, until Beast attacks Erik and tackles him into a fountain. Erik manipulates the other metal items near him, including cars, to bring them nearer to him, causing the crowd to flee, which allows Mystique to blend in and escape. Beast holds Erik underwater until he uses the metal birds in the fountain to grab Beast and pull him off Erik, allowing him to escape.
Later, Erik sneaks into Trask Industries and gains access to blueprints for the Sentinels before hopping on the train that is carrying them. He manipulates the train tracks and inserts them into the Sentinels. As he makes it to DC, he infiltrates the Pentagon with two ball bearings to take out the guards and retrieve his helmet.
On the day of the unveiling of the Sentinels, at the White House, Erik, now re-assuming his role as Magneto, comes down into RFK Stadium and lifts the entire place up, heading toward the White House. The Sentinels begin to activate as Magneto is controlling them with the train track metal. The Sentinels rise in the air to the awe of the crowd, until one of them begins to shoot at police cars, sending everyone into a frenzy. As everyone flees, the Secret Service take Nixon, Trask, and Stryker into the safe room in the White House. Magneto drops the stadium down around the White House, leaving one Sentinel within the area to stand guard.
Wolverine and Beast fight off the lone Sentinel. Beast tears into its fuel lines while Wolverine runs after Magneto. Magneto throws what he can at Wolverine, but he fights his way through. Magneto gets a block with re-bars and wraps it through Wolverine's body, allowing him to throw Wolverine into the Potomac River. He then pulls the safe room out of the White House and turns all the live news cameras toward him. He gives a speech to everybody in the nation to listen, but mainly aimed at the mutants in hiding (this is seen by Quicksilver, Ink, and Toad. He encourages them all to come out of hiding and to join his brotherhood, for it is they who are the future.
Mystique, disguised as Nixon, comes out to stop Magneto. The Sentinel runs toward them after passing Hank (he took the serum to revert to his human form), but Magneto pulls it apart. Mystique shoots and grazes him through the neck with a plastic gun, and then knocks his helmet off to take him down. After Mystique was convinced by Xavier to not kill Trask, Xavier briefly controlled Magneto to lift metal wreckage off him, allowing Hank to help him, before letting him escape. Leaving his helmet behind, Magneto left the scene.
- "Is this what you want for me?"
To be added
Believed to be Polish in origin, during the subject's adolescence, he and his family were sent to the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. Records show that at war's end, the subject was the only member of his family to survive. Following the war, Lehnsherr traveled through Europe before arriving in Israel where he met and befriended Charles Xavier. It is possible that Lehnsherr might have fathered as many as three children. Lehnsherr has been linked to and is believed to be directly responsible for the attacks on the the Statue of Liberty and Westchester Train Station. He is also linked to the destruction at Alkali Lake. The subject was captured and held in a specially created plastic prison by the Federal Government before escaping. His current whereabouts are unknown. The subject has demonstrated sophisticated knowledge in matters of genetic manipulation and engineering and has used radiation to mutate humans. He has very little interest in or value for non-mutant human life.
Erik Lensherr's personality develops throughout the film series. In X-Men; First Class, as a child, he was shown to be very loving towards his mother, since his emotional trauma was enough to first install his magnetic powers. During his experimentation at the hands of Klaus Schmidt, he was nervous and withdrawn and frightened of the man, and genuinely found it difficult to use his powers. Throughout Schmidt's manipulations, he begged to see his mother. When his mother was held at gunpoint, he genuinely tried to use his powers out of desperation, but when he couldn't and her mother was executed, his powers were unleashed with incredible violence out of complete and utter rage. Over the next few years of his life, Erik would become intensely obsessed with killing Schmidt.
This obsession led to unspeakable lengths: he would become sadistic, ruthless, dark and murderous towards others when he couldn't get the information he wanted. He was convinced that his powers were utilized by anger, and this only incensed his obsession and threatened his life on a myriad of occasions, especially when he actually met Shaw and failed to kill him. When he met Charles Xavier, he reacted with shock at not being the only mutant alive. Throughout the film, although he cooperated with what became known as the X Men, he did so with a single-minded determination to come close to Shaw and kill him. He repeatedly instilled aggressive thoughts in the members' heads, but he grew very close to Raven Darkholme - Mystique - and convinced her that it was alright to look different.
During the battle in Cuba, with his powers fully discovered, Erik Lensherr - now Magneto - finally took the chance to fight Shaw. When the two mutants dueled, Magneto went to immense lengths to stay in the fight, when Shaw managed to convince him that mutants were the superior stage of human evolution - however, even though he believed Shaw, he still killed the man in a similar fashion to how his mother was killed. After murdering Shaw, Erik became a full-scale vigilante, working to combat all of mankind and set up mutants as the supreme beings of Earth. This idealism set him apart from Charles Xavier.
However, the two men remained extremely close in their own right, always trying to contradict each others ideas and movements in an epic war. Magneto was recognized for being extremely calm and sophisticated, even in brutal or violent situations. He had a delusional belief that human extinction and mutant advancement was necessary, since they racially discriminated mutants on a daily basis. He was also a fully-fledged genius - he was extremely intelligent and unpredictable, and capable of creating extremely elaborate and complicated plans to elude and defeat his enemies. He was also somewhat misanthropic - he treated humans cruelly, like Senator Kelly and William Stryker. He had a very sarcastic wit, which he used infrequently in certain situations. When he captured the X-Jet with his powers, holding it in midair, he remarked 'When will these people learn how to fly?'.
Magneto was abundantly capable of sacrificing thousands of human lives if it meant achieving his goals in the end. Despite his ruthless and callous disregard for others, he had an extremely mutual respect for certain individuals. Despite Charles Xavier being his arch-nemesis, he respected and admired the man for his intelligence, level of power, charisma, and his shared compassion for mutants. When Xavier was killed by Jean Grey, he reacted with utter horror, but also intrigue at the power that Jean had shown in the process. He came extremely close to violence when Xavier was scorned, responding by saying that the man had done more for mutants than could be measured, and that his death was truly tragic.
Powers and Abilities
Magneto is able to manipulate metal, not the entire electromagnetic spectrum like his comic book counterpart, and has been seen to be able to affect even non-ferrous metallic objects. Magneto's resistance to mental attack does not stem from his own natural powers but is technological in nature; the helmet he took from Sebastian Shaw contains some kind of a psychic shielding component, able to completely negate both the telepathic abilities of Charles Xavier, and also the illusion-casting abilities of Mastermind.
- Magnetism: Magneto is capable of mentally affecting magnetic fields, this allows him to perform various and powerful techniques. He is shown in X-Men: First Class to be able to easily move small metallic objects, deflecting bullets, and later on being capable of turning a massive satellite dish, lifting an entire submarine, and redirecting multiple missiles. In the original X-Men films Magneto has been shown to easily catch the X-Jet and in The Last Stand he moves a whole bridge. Being surrounded by, above or below large amounts of metal also enables Magneto to defy gravity. It is revealed in X-Men: First Class that prior to meeting and training with Charles Xavier, Eric used anger to utilize his abilities, and thus couldn't perform to his full potential, however, it should be noted he was able to move a massive anchor and take down an entire ship while still using his ability through anger. But once Charles helped Eric realize he still had good memories and his control was better when he was between rage and serenity Erik truly began to control his mutant power.
If he is in an area with no metal, Magneto is almost completely helpless.
- Peter Maximoff - Illegitimate son.
- Charles Xavier - Friend turned enemy turned ally and best friend.
- Mystique - Ally and Love Interest.
- Pyro - Ally.
- Toad - Ally.
- Sabretooth - Ally.
- Robert Kelly - Enemy.
- Havok - Ally turned enemy.
- Banshee - Ally turned enemy.
- Beast - Ally turned enemy.
- Angel Salvadore - Ally turned enemy turned Ally.
- Moira MacTaggert - Ally turned enemy.
- Riptide - Enemy turned Ally.
- Azazel - Enemy turned Ally.
- Emma Frost - Enemy turned Ally.
- Sebastian Shaw - Enemy.
- Jakob Lehnsherr - Father.
- Wolverine - Enemy turned ally.
- Edie Eisenhardt - Mother.
- Stryker - Enemy.
- Phoenix - Ally turned Enemy.
- X-Men - Enemies turned Allies.
- Brotherhood of Mutants - Allies and Followers.
- Betsy Braddock/Psylocke - Ally.
- Warren Worthington III/Angel - Ally.
- Ororo Munroe/Storm - Ally.
- En Sabah Nur - Master.
- Canon (7 films)
- X-Men: First Class - Michael Fassbender and Bill Milner (young)
- X-Men (First appearance) - Ian McKellen and Brett Morris (young)
- X2: X-Men United - Ian McKellen
- X-Men: The Last Stand - Ian McKellen
- The Wolverine - Ian McKellen
- X-Men: Days of Future Past - Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender
- X-Men: Apocalypse - Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen
- Canon (3 comics)
- Canon (1 promotion)
Behind the scenes
- Ian McKellen worked with screen writers to make Iceman's reveal to his parents that he is a mutant to appear like a realistic "coming-out" scene.
- Digital processing was used to make Ian McKellen look younger when visiting a young Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand.
- The first scene in X-Men involving Magneto's childhood is completely duplicated (including camera angles and mannerisms in the original flashback) and expanded in X-Men: First Class.
- Michael Fassbender took inspiration for Magneto's way of moving and speaking from Sir Ian McKellen's performances in the original trilogy.
- Matthew Vaughn decided he wanted Fassbender as Magneto after seeing him in an audition for another movie. Fassbender, who didn't know the X-Men comics, read the character's story and found it interesting enough to portray him in the movie.
- Fassbender has stated Vaughn instructed him to portray Magneto not as a villain, but as the hero. This is so in a sequel both he and Xavier are justified in their actions, but try to achieve the same end through different means.
- In the comics, Xavier and Magneto chose different paths after a fight with Wolfgang Von Strucker, in which Xavier prevents Magneto from killing Strucker. In the movie, Strucker is replaced by Sebastian Shaw because Wolfgang Von Strucker's film rights belong to Marvel Studios.
- The scene in X-Men: The Last Stand in which Magneto lifts the Goldengate Bridge and uses it as a vessel for his Brotherhood is taken directly from the comics.
- Magneto was supposed to have a beard in X-Men: The Last Stand but this idea was quickly dismissed. However, on the DVD, there is a deleted scene where Pyro tells Magneto about the cure announcement. There is two versions of this scene. One is the "bearded" version and one is the shaven version.
- The number tattooed on Magneto's arm at Auschwitz was 214782.
- In the original X-Men Trilogy, the credits credit him as "Eric Lehnsherr" while in X-Men: First Class, his name is spelled "Erik Lehnsherr".
Images in chronological order of the film timeline: