Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a Magneto, is a mutant with the ability to control metal. He appears in many of the 20th Century Fox X-Men films: X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix (marketed for home release as X-Men: Dark Phoenix). He briefly appears in the related film The Wolverine.
The first three films plus X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Wolverine cover the years towards the end of Lehnsherr's life and he is portrayed by Ian McKellen for this time period. The remaining films are set during Lehnsherr's life when he is younger and he is portrayed by Michael Fassbender for these films.
In two of the movies that show Lehnsherr's experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp, he is portrayed by Bill Milner and Brett Morris.
In the third film chronologically, Magneto believes that a war between mutants and humanity is fast approaching and must prepare for it. His Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in this film include Mystique/Raven Darkholme, Sabretooth/Victor Creed, and Toad.
His first scene in the film is when he is leaving the senate hall before he is stopped by Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and persuades him to stay out of his way and not to interfere with his plans for humanity.
He is next seen when Sabretooth informs him of the attack on Wolverine and Rogue and that Professor X and the X-Men knew about their whereabouts in Alberta, Canada. Magneto sees a small dog tag around Sabretooth's neck and grabs it magnetically and examines a bit of what the Wolverine is capable of. He then informs that the time has come to put his plans into action by testing a machine that turns humans into mutants (unknown to Magneto that his machine kills them after their mutation). Magneto sends Mystique and Toad to kidnap Senator Robert Kelly and test his machine on him stating 'Let's just say that God works too slowly'. After Kelly falls to his apparent death, Magneto proceeds with kidnapping Rogue plans to use her as a pawn for his machine to mutate the world leaders on Ellis Island. On Liberty Island at the climax, Wolverine attempts to save Rogue, but Magneto holds him hostage just as the machine starts expanding towards Ellis Island as he holds the other X-Men hostage. Cyclops blasts him and Magneto is therefore sent to a plastic prison. He is visited by Professor X as the two play chess. Just before Professor X departs, Magneto states 'The war's still coming Charles and I intend to fight it.
Magneto's experiences have altered his attitude towards humanity and he returns with the intent of destroying it instead of changing it.
He is visited by Colonel William Stryker (Brian Cox) various times while he retrieves information on Professor X's mansion and Cerebro, the machine that locates mutants around the world. While conversing with Professor X, Magneto states that his war has already begun. Later, with help from his associate Mystique, Magneto escapes prison by using the metal in the blood of one of his prison guards.
Magneto is seen afterwards and rendezvous with the X-Men and their allies, giving them information about Stryker's plan to annihilate all mutants. The X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants form an uneasy alliance to stop Stryker for the freedom of mutation. Once at Alkali Lake, Magneto, along with Mystique, arrives at Cerebro and switches it around thus revealing his intentions to destroy all humans instead of mutants. Later on, he meets up with William Stryker and nearly chokes him to death. Just before a narrow escape, Magneto recruits young Pyro, who takes his advice (You're a god among insects).
X-Men: The Last Stand
Magneto assembles a massive army of mutants ready to take down the scientists who created a supposed "cure" that erases the mutant X-gene "permanently".
In the movie, after learning of a special cure for mutations made with the blood of a mutant, Magneto declares an all-out war and expands the Brotherhood of Mutants with new members such as Juggernaut, Multiple Man, The Omegas (Callisto, Arclight, Kid Omega, Psylocke) and various others in addition to his old members Mystique and Pyro.
After a rescue attempt and recruitment, Magneto was to be stunned by the cure, but Mystique sacrificed herself and was abandoned to live among the humans. Just as Magneto starts to expand his new army, he learns that Jean Grey (now known as the Phoenix) has survived her death and attempts to recruit her with only Professor X, Wolverine and Storm standing in his way. He sends for Juggernaut and the Omegas for back-up to distract Wolverine and Storm. Persuading Jean to think that Professor X wants to control her power, Jean goes insane, destroys her house and kills Professor X in her outrage. Feeling heartbroken, Magneto takes Jean with him back to his lair. As Magneto sets out to destroy the source of the mutant cure (a mutant as it turns out), he senses that Wolverine was in his midst and stops him from taking Jean away from the Brotherhood. On their way to Alcatraz, Magneto and his Brotherhood army use the Golden Gate bridge to destroy everything on Alcatraz to reach their goal of destroying the cure. After fighting the X-Men, he is cured by Beast from behind. In defeat, he says to Jean, "This is what they want for all of us". Feeling regret on what he did to Jean, he flees the Dark Phoenix's final stand. At the end of the film, Magneto reluctantly moves a chess piece magnetically, thus getting his powers back.
X-Men: First Class
Magneto appears as his younger self in this film, played by a German Irish actor Michael Fassbender. He starts out as young Erik Lensherr who is a Holocaust survivor. When he is persuaded by Dr. Klaus Schmidt to use his power of controlling metal, he refuses to, and tries desperately to when the villain points a gun at his mother. After Schmidt kills his mother in cold blood without showing any remorse, Erik gets enraged and bursts into a rage thus enabling his metallic powers; he turned a filing cabinet inside-out, squeezed two guard's helmets to crush their brains and send loads of metal equipment in the neighboring surgery room flying in a murderous frenzy. Schmidt says that he will unlock his power and gives him a German 5-cent coin that he was meant to move around moments before.
Years later, Erik searches for Schmidt and vows to kill him in his quest for revenge. First, he goes to speak with the unnamed Swiss banker in Geneva, Switzerland and gets him to tell of Schmidt's location; Argentina. Next, Erik went to Argentina and killed three men in a bar who knew where to find Schmidt. When he finds Schmidt, now calling himself Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), aboard the ship Caspartina, he meets Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who assists him in the investigation of his plans of launching missiles onto Cuba thus triggering World War 3. He starts a close friendship with Charles and a romantic relationship with his fostered sister Raven Darkholme/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).
When Erik (now dubbed as Magneto) and Shaw finally come face to face in Shaw's submarine, Magneto destroys part of Shaw's telepathy shield, removes his helmet and allows Charles to paralyze him long enough to stop him. Unfortunately, Magneto dons the helmet to block Charles' mind. He reluctantly kills Shaw by placing a Nazi coin through his brain, thus avenging his mother's death (while ignoring Charles' begging to stop). Later on, the USSR and the US launched missiles at the mutants threatening to kill them and stopping World War 3. Magneto takes control of the missiles thus turning them on their launchers. CIA agent Moria MacTaggert tries shooting at Magneto, but Magneto deflects the bullets accidentally paralyzing Charles' legs. He invites the rest of the mutants of the Hellfire Club and the other X-Men to join him in his quest to protect mutant-kind. The X-Men refuse but Mystique joins him and the rest of the Hellfire Club. At the climax of the film, Magneto and his newly formed Brotherhood of Mutants break Emma Frost out of her prison and asks her to join them.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
In this movie, both the younger and the older Lehnsherr fight against the Sentinels created by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). In the future, he has teamed up with Charles Xavier to help defend mutants against the Sentinels, which has expanded its hunt for mutants to include humans that might have the mutant gene. In the past, he also teams up with Xavier to help prevent their deployment, which will lead to the extinction of mutants and humans.
He first appears as a prisoner held in the 100th floor below the Pentagon in a specially made cell. However, he gets freed with the aid of Charles Xavier, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Beast/Hank McCoy, and Quicksilver. Magneto later tries to kill Mystique in Paris by putting a bullet into her, specifically her ankle, to ensure the mutant's future and survival, but fails to do so. Afterwards, a public showcase of the Sentinels at the White House is made to make sure that people will be kept safe from mutants.
However, Magneto has commandeered the Sentinels by inserting metal into their polymorph bodies and also uses a lifted up stadium to keep other humans out of the way. Announcing mutant supremacy on live television, Magneto is attacked by Beast and Wolverine but keeps them at bay. However, when threatening the President, Mystique disguised as Nixon shoots him. After Mystique spares Trask's life at Xavier's urging, the Professor allows Mystique and Magneto to leave, believing that there is hope for both of them to change for the better.
In 2023, Magneto is a supporting protagonist. Meanwhile in the future timeline, Magneto helps the X-Men fend off the Sentinels but is injured badly during the war of the sentinels. Right before the Sentinels can finish him off along with Xavier, Wolverine, and Kitty Pryde, the future is changed. What became of Magneto in the revised timeline, and how much of the original still occurred beyond X-Men: First Class, is unclear at the moment.
Magneto has tried to live like a normal human in Poland and worked in a factory under name Henryk. There he used his powers to save his colleague from a falling heavy metal bucket. However his colleague reported him to local police. When he was about to be arrested for his terrorist action one decade ago of the policemen accidentally shot his daughter and wife. Despaired Erik killed them all and returned to the factory to kill all his colleagues who had reported him to the police. There Apocalypse appeared with his Horsemen, all killed all Magneto's former colleagues before he had the chance to do so. Apocalypse then recruited Magneto as a Horseman of the Apocalypse under name "War". Magneto is then sent to the ruins of Auschwitz where he destroys the camp after remembering horrors that he had experienced as a young boy.
He then appears in Cairo where he and the Horsemen assist Apocalypse in destroying civilization to remake the world in the image of Apocalypse but the X-Men come to save Charles. During the battle, Mystique arrives and tells Erik that he hasn't lost everything, convincing Erik to have a change of heart and turn on Apocalypse. After a brutal battle, Jean unleashes her powers on Apocalypse and destroyers his armor which allows Magneto to impale him and Jean to finally finish him off. He then helps rebuild the X-Mansion but leaves still being distrusting of humanity.
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