Ever since X-Men helped truly launch the massively successful superhero genre in 2000, we've seen Marvel's iconic team of mutants face-off against a variety of their most notorious villains, from Sabretooth and Juggernaut to the godlike Apocalypse. No antagonist, however, has been as prevalent or impactful as Magneto, the master of magnetism.
Once Dark Phoenix releases on June 7, Magneto will have appeared in seven of 20th Century Fox's X-Men films. It's hard to believe that there's anything audiences don't know about him by now, but to this point, none of the films have actually demonstrated the full extent of Erik Lehnsherr's incredible powers.
When he's at full-strength in the comics, Magneto is undoubtedly one of the most powerful mutants alive and has far more weapons in his arsenal than the mere ability to control and manipulate metal. Luckily for the X-Men, the Avengers and all of the other superheroes who frequently themselves at odds with Magneto during his fight for mutant independence, he also has his share of surprising shortcomings. Here are 8 Superpowers Magneto Keeps Hidden (And 12 Strange Weaknesses).
20 HIDDEN POWERS: ELECTROKINESIS
All of the live-action X-Men films Magneto has appeared in have shown his control over magnetism, but his power of electrokinesis has surprisingly never shown up on screen. Erik's ability to manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum also allows him to create and shoot bolts of electricity, making him a huge threat even if there's no metal nearby for him to weaponize.
Magneto can also absorb bolts of lightning, and he can project an electric aura around himself that will shock enemies if they come too close.
19 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: HE CAN'T ALWAYS WITHSTAND THE STRAIN OF HIS POWERS
Controlling magnetism and the electromagnetic spectrum isn't necessarily as easy as Magneto sometimes makes it look. He's proven himself totally capable of lifting submarines, moving bridges or relocating entire stadiums, but doing so can take a huge toll on his body.
When he's injured from battle, his body can become unable to withstand the strain of manipulating large amounts of magnetic forces, rendering his incredible and technically-limitless powers useless.
18 HIDDEN POWERS: CONTROL OVER GRAVITY
We've seen both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender fly as Magneto, but neither of their takes on the character have shown the master of magnetism's ability to actually control gravity for other people. He can actually create a localized electromagnetic field around someone, reverse its polarity from the Earth's, and become capable of levitating his allies or enemies.
To stop the X-Men from foiling his plans in the comics, he frequently just utilizes this lesser-known ability to suspend them in midair.
17 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: SUSCEPTIBLE TO MENTAL FATIGUE
When Magneto is refreshed and at the start of a battle, his powers can make him seem nearly as godly and invincible as omega-level mutants like Apocalypse. However, he's still just a human and is as capable of succumbing to stress or fatigue as the rest of us.
Exhaustion, whether its physical or just mental, can drastically affect Erik's ability to adequately use his powers. So while he can contend with any member of the X-Men one-on-one, when he's forced to battle the whole team at once, he becomes far weaker as they work to tire him out.
16 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: LIMITED RECRUITMENT ABILITY
Charles Xavier seems to have no difficulty recruiting new mutants to join his ever-expanding team of X-Men. Students are eager to enroll in the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters so they can gain better control over their powers, and most go on to join the staff in fighting to help save the world. If recruitment is low, Xavier can always just use Cerebro to help him find mutants across the world to seek out.
Magneto doesn't have quite as easy of a time finding allies to join his Brotherhood. While he knows how to operate Cerebro, he doesn't have one of his own. And many mutants simply don't want to join a team as rebellious and often destructive as Magneto's.
15 HIDDEN POWERS: MAGNETIC ARMOR GENERATION
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark's technological genius has helped him figure out how to generate a suit of iron around his body with a mere thought or tap of a device on his chest. While he's never done it on the big screen yet, Magneto can create a similar metal suit in seconds, using whatever scraps of metal are laying around in his proximity.
He can warp and manipulate any metal to generate this armor outfit, giving him protection from a variety of different enemies.
14 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: ATTACHMENT TO HIS MANY CHILDREN
Some viewers think Magneto's only focus is on establishing mutant dominance over the world, but in the comics, he's not necessarily quite so single-minded. Erik is actually the father of a number of powerful children, two of whom are Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. While he's not exactly the best parent or role model to them, he still cares a lot about their safety and well-being.
This attachment to his children can occasionally be a weakness, since his enemies can threaten or use his offspring against him.
13 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: CONSTANT FAMILY DRAMA
Since Magneto's children are so exceptionally powerful, his poor parenting often leads to seriously devastating family quarrels.
He constantly filled his kids' heads with his plans for mutant dominance, and it eventually inspired his son Pietro to manipulate his mentally-ill sister Wanda into creating a world ruled by Magneto, where mutants were the majority, and regular humans were the minority. Magneto found out what Quicksilver had done in his name and ended his son's life for perverting his philosophy, but Scarlet Witch resurrected her brother and retaliated against her father with the phrase "No more mutants."
Her spell changed the world back to its original form and caused an alarming 98 percent of the world's mutant population to lose their powers, a number which included Magneto, making it the ultimate revenge against him.
12 HIDDEN POWERS: ELECTROMAGNETIC SIGHT
Magneto's ability to manipulate the energy along the entire electromagnetic spectrum comes with it a very unusual additional special power. Unlike other humans, he's able to visually perceive the world through more than the spectrum of visible light—he can also perceive the electromagnetic aura given off by all living things.
This isn't necessarily as useful an ability as the control of magnetism or the ability to shoot or absorb lightning, but its a power that has served him throughout his comic book career.
11 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: NON-METAL SENTINELS
Casual fans who think that sentinels are no concern for Magneto fail to realize that the government is capable of creating sentinels which are void of any metal for him to control. Erik was only able to weaponize the sentinels against their creators in X-Men: Days of Future Past because he snuck metal inside of them on an earlier occasion, but he's not always able to do this.
The massive robots are programmed to take out mutants of all power levels, and if they're made of nothing but plastic or other non-metallic substances, their brute strength can be too much for Magneto to contend with.
10 HIDDEN POWERS: ORGANIC IRON MANIPULATION
In X2: X-Men United, Magneto broke out of his glass and plastic prison by eliminating a guard Mystique had injected with enough liquid iron for Magneto to physically siphon out of his body. His shape-shifting acolyte's tactic was definitely effective and interesting to watch, but it might have been entirely unnecessary.
All humans have a trace level of iron in their blood which Magneto can manipulate with enough focus. In Magneto: Dark Seduction #3, he was actually able to reverse the blood flow in the Avengers' bodies, nearly immobilizing them with pain.
9 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: STUBBORNNESS
As a child, Erik Lehnsherr was tragically subjected to terrible discrimination and violence due to his Jewish heritage. He watched helplessly as his family was eliminated in the genocide of World War II, and the trauma took its toll on Magneto and fueled his dislike of all of humankind.
The supervillain grew up with a need to feel superior, and his refusal to ever back down or show any sort of weakness can often throw Magneto in harm's way. He'll stubbornly do whatever it takes to win the day and accomplish his goals, even if it means entering into situations he knows he's unlikely to survive.
8 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: THE "MAGNETO PROTOCOLS"
As we've seen in the X-Men films, Magneto occasionally works with the team of mutant heroes he typically fights against and can be more of an antihero than a full-blown supervillain. However, no amount of good deeds can make the world forget some of the devastations he's caused over the years, and the United Nations Security Council actually created "Magneto Protocols" to act as global security measures against him.
These protocols involved a low orbit network of satellites which skewed the Earth's electromagnetic field and could prevent him from using his powers. When the government enacted the protocols against him, Magneto was only able to regain use of his abilities after unleashing a planet-wide EMP that disabled the satellites.
7 HIDDEN POWERS: WORMHOLE CREATION
Now that Disney has officially gained ownership of 20th Century Fox, the X-Men can finally join the Avengers and the other heroes of the MCU. Fans have been speculating how Marvel will explain the sudden existence of mutants, and the answer may come via one of Magneto's hidden powers.
Magneto's deep understanding of electromagnetic and fundamental forces in the comics has allowed him to create stable, traversable wormholes. In Excalibur and Avengers Disassembled, he used these wormholes to instantly travel between Genosha and New York. He could possibly travel to alternate realities with them, allowing the X-Men to travel from a separate universe where mutants have always existed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
6 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: DISLOYAL ALLIES
In comics, good almost always triumphs over evil because heroes tend to make numerous allies who will help them save the day no matter what new threat emerges. Casual fans often wonder why villains don't just team up the way the Avengers or the X-Men do, but we've learned by observing the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Spider-Man's Sinister Six that it's not quite that easy for bad guys.
Supervillains are often focused on their own thirst for power, wealth or notoriety, so they don't have each other's backs the way heroes do when they team up. Magneto has worked with a number of different antagonistic mutants and evil-doers over the years, but a lack of loyalty frequently keeps repeat team-ups from happening.
5 HIDDEN POWERS: SLIGHT TELEPATHIC RESISTANCE
Fans who solely watch the X-Men films have been led to believe that the only thing protecting Magneto from the mind-reading powers of psychics like Professor X, Jean Grey and Emma Frost is the helmet he wears. While its true that his helmet does help him avoid psychic attacks, comic readers know that Erik can hold off some of the world's best telepaths without it.
One of Magneto's lesser-known powers is his indomitable force of will and presence of mind. His rivalry with Charles Xavier has forced him to develop a strong resistance to telepathic attacks, and in the Uncanny X-Men comics, Magneto was able to maintain a firm enough mental block while meditating that even Emma Frost couldn’t read his mind.
4 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: STILL SUSCEPTIBLE TO PSYCHIC ATTACKS
While Magneto can briefly hold his own against some of the most skilled telepaths in the world, psychics are still valid counters to the master of magnetism. When Erik ripped all of the adamantium from Wolverine's body during a particularly heated fight against the X-Men, an enraged Professor X was able to use his gifts to wipe Magneto's mind and leave him in a comatose state.
Magneto is a skilled fighter with and without his powers, but no combat skills can help fight an enemy who is able to attack your mind and make you forget your training or how to use your abilities.
3 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: TOO GOOD AT READING PEOPLE
If we've learned anything from movies like What Women Want and What Men Want, it's that nothing good can come from being able to read other people's minds. Some lies need to be told to spare feelings, and some thoughts are just better left private. Magneto may not be a telepath, but his enhanced ability to detect micro-expressions makes him nearly as capable of peering into the minds of everyone around him.
Erik can detect emotions far faster than average humans, and can read his opponents to tell when they're trying to mislead or lie to him. This can act as a useful skill in some situations, but it also may be a contributing factor in Magneto's inability to create lasting relationships over the years. He's a naturally paranoid person due to his tragic upbringing, and this skill helps him see the flaws in everyone around him.
2 HIDDEN POWERS: INVISIBILITY
As if the ability to generate lightning and see the auras around all living and non-living things wasn't enough, Magneto's unique mastery of the electromagnetic spectrum also provides him with another superpower.
Since visible light is part of that spectrum, he can warp it around his body as needed to render himself nearly as invisible as the Invisible Woman, Sue Storm, can become.
1 STRANGE WEAKNESSES: CONSTANTLY AT ODDS WITH THE WORLD'S HEROES
Since he grew up seeing his loved ones persecuted and eliminated for being Jewish, Erik Lehnsherr takes the persecution of mutants incredibly seriously. Charles Xavier prefers to see the best in others, but Magneto's experience with the darker side of humanity makes him unable to believe that the world will ever change. That's why he fights so hard for mutant rights and dominance over the world and doesn't care who he has to eliminate to achieve those goals.
It's definitely possible that if he took a more peaceful approach to gaining rights and freedoms for his fellow mutants the way Professor X did, their joint efforts could have helped the two great men finally get what they hoped for. Instead, Magneto's antagonistic approach just puts him at odds with the world's heroes, who fight him to ensure he won't eliminate any innocents in his quest for control.