Magneto was the first villain of the X-Men. He was originally considered a mutant extremist who wanted mutants to dominate the human race as opposed to Professor Xavier’s attempts to have mutants exist alongside humanity. However, Magneto has evolved over the years, and he’s no longer simply considered a villain but something far more complex.
Magneto is now often considered one of Marvel’s best characters and definitely one of the most compelling characters on the X-Men side of the Marvel Universe. However, he still can often come off as a straightforward villain. That brings the discussion to today’s topic: five times Magneto was sympathetic and five times he was unforgivable.
10 SYMPATHETIC: Taking Care Of The Young X-Men
Not too long ago, Beast used a time machine to bring the young versions of the original X-Men to the present to help right the course of the X-Men to help them accomplish Xavier’s dream. This led to a saga of different factions of the older X-Men trying to figure out how to direct the young X-Men.
Eventually, Magneto took the responsibility for these young mutants and tried to lead them to become the best version of themselves.
9 UNFORGIVABLE: Forming The Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants
Magneto’s formation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was a questionable decision from the very beginning. While Erik Lensherr has his own ideas of how mutants can find peace in the world of humanity, it’s quite morally questionable to indoctrinate young mutants into his destructive mission.
It’s a little worse when it’s considered that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, two individuals who might be Erik’s children, were among the original Brotherhood team without Magneto even knowing.
8 SYMPATHETIC: Taking Over And Losing Genosha
Krakoa, the current island nation dedicated to mutant-kind, isn’t the first time that mutants had their own country. Genosha was the first mutant nation, and Magneto was chosen as the leader of this unprecedented country dedicated to mutants.
However, that country’s existence was cut short when the Sentinel Mastermold, sent by the cruel Cassandra Nova, wiped out Genosha. Erik Lensherr watched his country reduced to ashes, unable to stop this act of genocide–but this was not the first time that Magneto had to witness genocide.
7 UNFORGIVABLE: Threatening To Nuke The Entire World
Magneto’s first appearance in the X-Men comic found Erik trying to seize control of the Cape Citadel missile base to hold the human world hostage. This attempt at mutant revolution was stopped by the original X-Men team.
Later, Magneto re-established his role of X-Men archnemesis by trying to use the nuclear bombs of the USSR to threaten the entire world, and the X-Men had to once again stop Erik Lensherr from causing an apocalypse.
6 SYMPATHETIC: Stepping In For Xavier’s Dream
At one point, Professor Xavier was attacked by anti-mutant bigots and unable to lead the X-Men and his school. At this point, Magneto stepped in to help his old friend. This started with Erik stopping Rachel Summers from killing a human who shot at her, showing Magneto’s change of heart at this time.
Erik Lensherr led the X-Men and the New Mutants for a long time before finally learning that Magneto couldn’t adopt Xavier’s view of the world, further shown when he almost killed a woman named Zaladene in the Savage Land.
5 UNFORGIVABLE: Betraying Cyclops’ Revolutionary X-Men
In more recent years, Cyclops adopted a plan closer to Magneto’s dream than Xavier’s. This X-Men team was formed after the events of Avengers VS X-Men.
However, Erik found that he couldn’t forgive Cyclops for killing Professor Xavier during AvX, and Magneto betrayed Cyclops to S.H.I.E.L.D. Eventually, Cyclops discovered this, and Magneto had to flee his team of X-Men.
4 SYMPATHETIC: Trying To Kill The Red Skull (Multiple Times)
Magneto first made attempt on the Nazi Red Skull’s life during the events of Acts of Vengeance, a crossover story where various villains in the Marvel Universe cooperated in an attempt to kill their various superhero foes. The Red Skull and Magneto both participated in this conspiracy, but it was later revealed that Magneto only worked in the same group as the Red Skull as an opportunity to try and assassinate the Red Skull. However, Erik failed in this.
Later, Magneto tracked down the Red Skull to the ruins of Genosha and recruited a group of villains to help him kill the Red Skull. Erik beat the Red Skull to death, but this was unfortunately what the Red Skull wanted, as it allowed the Red Skull to become the Red Onslaught.
3 UNFORGIVABLE: His Part In The Avengers VS X-Men Saga
No one really looked good in the Avengers VS X-Men crossover event, but the X-Men looked slightly worse during the story. Cyclops, for some reason, believed that the apocalyptic Phoenix Force was the key to saving mutant-kind. Magneto and most of the X-Men joined Cyclops in his crusade, even as the Avengers tried to stop him.
Magneto, and pretty much every other X-Man, should have known better. The Phoenix consumed Jean Grey and has destroyed entire worlds, so it was bizarre that the X-Men, whom have had first-hand experience with the Phoenix, tried to harness its power.
2 SYMPATHETIC: The Magneto Testament, Magneto’s Holocaust Story
One of the heaviest Marvel stories ever told, Magneto arguably looked no more sympathetic than as a Jewish child living through the Holocaust in Germany.
Magneto was born Max Eisendhart, a Jewish child in Nuremberg, Germany. He watched as the Nazis rose to power and began exterminating Jews. Young Max watched as his family was killed by the Nazis, and he experienced a concentration camp firsthand. He survived and went on to change his name to Erik Lensherr, the first name coming from his Uncle Erik.
1 UNFORGIVABLE: His Part In House Of M, Or How Magneto Became King
When Scarlet Witch changed the world so that mutants were the dominant race on Earth, Magneto was the ruler as the patriarch of the House of M. Erik had his perception of the world clouded by Wanda like everyone else, but it’s hard to ignore that this altered reality took the shape of Magneto’s dream.
When the truth was revealed, Erik wasn’t rushing to return the world to the way that it was. In fact, he wanted the Scarlet Witch to leave everything the way it was. Ultimately, Wanda returned everything to its original state and removed the powers of the majority of mutants on the planet in her infamous « no more mutants » moment.
NEXT: 10 Avengers Villains Who Are Better Suited For The X-Men
Marvel: 10 Most Heartbreaking Villain Deaths, Ranked