Erik Lehnsherr is the Master of Magnetism, Magneto. He sees mutants as the future dominant species on the planet and will do anything to ensure that they become just that.
Erik grew up as a Jew during World War II. His family were eventually forced into one of the Nazi concentration camps where he was separated from his parents. During this separation his magnetic powers began to manifest twisting various metal around him.
After surviving the camps he eventually meets Charles Xavier. Together they share a vision of a safe mutant race. There methods for doing this though cause a rift and they separate. Both continue to pursue their goal of protecting the mutant race even though their methods are diametrically opposed.
If you can't join them make them like you
Magneto went underground for a while planning something. His plan begins to take shape with the discovery of the mutant Rogue. He sent the mutant Sabertooth to attack and retrieve her but he was unsuccessful. At the same time he had Mystique to kidnap anti mutant Senator Robert Kelly and bring him to his base. Once there Magneto unveils his machine that is powered by his magnetic energy and changes Kelly into a mutant. Kelly eventually escapes his imprisonment falling into the ocean.
With Kelly gone Magneto once again began to hunt Rogue sending Mystique into the Xavier School to encourage Rogue to leave. At the same time Mystique goes in and sabotage Cerebro, sending Professor X into a coma when he attempts to use it. Magneto goes with Sabertooth and Toad to collect Rogue. He easily dispatches Wolverine and captures Rogue. While leaving the train station the local police were waiting guns drawn. Magneto easily disarms and turns the guns on their former users challenging Professor X to stop all the bullets. He uses this as a chance to escape having succeeded in his plan.
With the help of his mutant brotherhood they infiltrate the Statue of Liberty on Ellis island. They put the machine in the torch head chaining Rogue to it. Since the machine would have killed Magneto if he did this himself he forces Rogue to touch him giving her his powers. While she starts up the machine he holds the X-Men captive up against a wall while his plan unfolds. Wolverine though is able to destroy the machine and he is wounded by Cyclops. The Government places Magneto in a plastic cell under constant surveillance.
Escape and odd alliances.
Mystique having survived the battle on Ellis Island helps Magneto escape his captivity. While in prison he was being visited by Colonel William Stryker who used mind control to gain Magnetos knowledge of Cerebro,Xavier and the School. Once Mystique had successfully pumped more iron into a guards body Magneto sucks it out of him using it to break his plastic prison.
On the run he eventually comes across the regrouping X-Men who were under attack by William Stryker as well. Together they travel to Alkali Lake to infiltrate and stop Stryker's plan. When Stryker uses Cerebro to kill the mutants Magneto's helmet protects him and he is able to stop Charles from killing everyone. Magneto than asks for Charles to kill all the humans but this too is foiled. Magneto, Mystique and Pyro escape on a commandeered helicopter, regrouping to attack another day.
Death of a friend and the cure
On the run, Magneto held back, rebuilding his Brotherhood of Mutants. He visited various rallies urging all mutants to join his militant cause. When he is alerted to Jean Grey being alive and having unlocked her Phoenix persona amplifying her power, he journeys with his Brotherhood to bid for her favor as Charles and the X-Men arrive to do the same thing. Eventually Grey becomes angry and begins to destroy her house as well as obliterate Charles in front of Magneto's eyes. Grey than joins him but he realizes he can not control her.
Now with a mutant army at his disposal, he moves to San Francisco, unhinging the Golden Gate Bridge and moving it to Alcatraz where the "Mutant Cure" is created. Ready to attack he sends in his army. Eventually the X-Men show up to repel the attack with the help of security who have needles with the cure in them. During the battle the X-Men are able to stab Magneto with several cure needles taking away his Magnetic power and turning him human. He runs away when Jean Grey as the Phoenix begins to obliterate everything around her.
He is shown later siting alone at a chess table with metal pieces. He holds out his hand and the piece begins to shake.
The Split between Charles and Erik
During the X-Men:First Class film it will explore the formation of the X-Men and the eventual break up of Erik and Charles.
In other media
Magneto has served as the main or a major antagonist in nearly all of the various X-Men TV shows.
Erik does not consider himself to be a villain. He considered himself a liberator and patriot for the mutant cause. He is very knowledgeable in various areas. He can play chess well, and is seen doing so multiple times with Professor X. He may not agree with Professor X's methods for furthering the mutant cause but he does respect his former friend.
His knowledge and militant methods are only matched by his magnetic power. This power makes him among some of the most powerful mutants in the world.
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