Max Eisenhardt/Erik Magnus Lensherr (Magneto)

magnetofilmSecond character having a cameo at the end of The Wolverine, Magneto is one of the most famous and powerful villains in the Marvel Universe. In the movies, he’s been portrayed in almost every film in the series by Sir Ian McKellen, as an enbittered old man that, after surviving Nazis’ extermination camps, swore vengeance against a world unable to accept minorities. In X-Men: First Class a younger version of the character appeared, portrayed by Michael Fassbender, seen at the beginning of his “career” when he was still hunting for Nazi war criminals in the 60s. Both versions will appear in X-Men: Days of Future Past next year, linked by a time travel. Despite he apparently lost his powers at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand, he seems to have regained his magnetic abilities, and he’s ready to use them in an alliance with the X-Men against a new menace for the mutant race. Let’s see who he is in the comics.

Magneto’s true name is Max Eisenhardt, and he was born in the 20s in Germany. He was the son of Jakob Eisenhardt, a decorated World War I veteran, and his wife Edie. He grew up in a big and loving family along with his sister Ruth, showing a sharp intellect that made his parents proud. While attending school in Nuremberg, Max fell in love with Magda, a Rome girl daughter of one of the school’s cleaners; Max tried to impress her in many ways, both with scholastic and athletic achievements, but, being a Jew, things didn’t go well for him, despite being one of the school’s best. Erich Eisenhardt, Max’s uncle, was found beaten almost to death for courting a German woman, and Max himself was first disqualified from athletics and then expelled from school when, magnetocomics1winning twice in a row a javeline competition, he was accused of cheating; Jakob searched for the help of Major Scharf, a veteran he saved from death during the war, but he got beaten too, and Scharf claimed they were even since Eisenhardt survived their encounter. In order to protect his family, Jakob decided to move to WarsawPolland, immediately after the Nuremberg Laws, but the Nazis soon invaded their new homecountry and the Eisenhardts were locked into the Ghetto. Max became a smuggler, and started to steal food and supplies for his family. When the situation became even worse, and the Germans started to deport Jews into the Death Camps, Jakob decided to escape with his family, but they were betrayed and the Nazis caught them. The entire family was executed on place, but Max was saved by Jakob, who protected him from the bullets (actually, Max’s newborn mutant powers may have had a role in the boy’s miraculous survival). Believed to be dead, Max was buried along with the corpses of his dead family in a mass grave, and spent some hours under the ground, strieving to breath among the dead. The nightmare was far from over, and when the boy managed to dig his way out of the grave, he was found and caught by the Nazis again, and brought to Auschwitz. In here, a teenager Max became a Sonderkommando, a Jew forced to help the Nazis run the gas chambers. It was thanks to this task that he managed to be reunited with his beloved Magda and to save her from certain death. At the end of the war, when the Sonderkommando revolted, Max and Magda escaped from Auschiwitz, got married and lived in isolation in a village on the Carpatian Mountains. They had a daughter, Anya.

Being the only Eisenhardt survived to the war, Max learnt the hard way what humans could do to somebody they regarded as “different”. On the Carpatians, Max contacted Georg Odekirk, a renowned forger, and asked him to create a new identity for him, since what remained of Max Eisenhardt died in Auschwitz. Max was given the name Erik Lensherr, which belonged to a dead Rome, and added to it the middle name Magnus. With a brand new identity and a new life to live, Erik moved to Vinnitsa with his family, but in there men’s hatred reached him once again: he used his mutant powers for the first time, trying to force his boss, who was cheating on the pay, to make him justice, but the only result was that his house was set on fire that same night. Erik tried to save Anya, who was trapped inside, but was stopped magnetocomics2by KGB agents, called by his boss. The man was forced to watch helplessy as his daughter burnt alive, and the rage triggered once again his powers: controlling magnetism, he annihilated the soldiers and the agents restraining him, killed much of the crowd that had gathered to watch, and destroyed a big part of Vinnitsa as retaliation. Magda, traumatized by both her daughter’s death and her husband’s violence, fled, without even saying to Erik that she was pregnant once again: they would have never seen each other again. Trying to leave pain behind, Erik travelled to HaifaIsrael, and started volunteering in a psychiatric hospital for Holocaust victims. There, he met Charles Xavier, a young idealist who became his best friend. Despite they didn’t reveal each other their nature as mutants, they spent hours discussing the possibiliy of a peaceful coexistence between homo sapiens sapiens and homo sapiens superior, with Erik always remarking the evil nature of mankind and the impossibility of peace. While the two of them were in Haifa, a major Nazi criminal, Baron Von Strucker, attacked the city with his Hydra, trying to collect part of his gold back. Revealing their nature for the first time, Erik and Charles fought together, but Xavier stopped his friend from killing Strucker once he was defeated. After the battle, Erik decided that Charles’ ideals were incompatible with his own, and he left with the Nazis’ gold. After some time working for Mossad hunting Nazi criminals around the world, Erik created a new identity, Magneto, swearing to protect any mutant from the fear and the hatred of the normal humans. Magneto gathered other mutants with his same ideas on mankind and founded the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, a terrorist organization committed in asserting the superiority of mutants over humans. The war for supremacy and survival had begun.

Max Eisenhardt, or Erik Lensherr, is a man who endured an extreme pain, and survived enough to turn it into anger. Being an excellent strategist with a good military training and a genius level intellect, Erik is a man dangerous enough to be considered a dangerous criminal mastermind, but, more to this, he’s also the most powerful mutant on the planet. As Magneto, he has complete control over magnetic fields, and this doesn’t only allow him to manipulate metals, to create force fields or to fly: it also allows him to manipulate Earth’s magnetic field itself, causing unimaginable damage to the planet if he only wanted to. Luckily, despite his violent nature, Magneto possesses a strong ethics, and has been during the years also a precious ally to the X-Men and their cause. A man who could destroy life on Earth, only fights for the protection of an ethnic minority…with every single means he considers necessary.

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51 Comments

  1. […] against the school and the X-Men, Esme and Xorn devised an even more ambitious plan: Xorn posed as Magneto, and his interpretation was solid enough to fool even a long-time follower like Toad. The three […]


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