In Other Media

X-Men: The Animated Series

Biography: "Magnus" was born in a nameless war-torn country and his family was murdered by the opposing faction. The Holocaust and Auschwitz are never mentioned, nor is Anya. Magda left Magnus without telling him of the existence of the twins, though from comments Magneto made in "Family Ties", it was his behavior that drove her away, not his powers. In fact, given their discussion, it is possible Magnus was an abusive husband.

Magnus and Charles did work together to help victims of the war that tore Magnus homeland apart, though it is within that unnamed homeland itself. When hostilities renewed and the faction that had killed his family attacked again, Magneto found himself drawn into the deadly violence of the struggle and then into a violent struggle for mutant rights.

Personality: This Magneto is the most like his 616 counterpart (though the 616 Magneto was never abusive towards his wife).

Powers: TAS Magneto is only slightly more limited than his 616 counterpart in both scope and scale, though he is shown manipulating energies on occasion and at one point almost discorporates.

X-Men: Evolution

Biography: As a boy, "Erik Lehnsherr" was rescued from a “P.O.W. camp” in Poland by Captain America and Wolverine. How he and Charles met and the early stages of their friendship is not shown. Anya and Magda are not mentioned. Magnus knew of and the raised the twins alone, though what happened to the twins mother is never discussed. When Wanda’s powers became uncontrollable, Magneto confined her to a mental institution.

It is noteworthy that Charles was treating Wanda for her emotional instability at the mental institution, attempting to help her control her powers. Logically, this indicates that Magneto asked for Charles’ help in treating Wanda since as her guardian he would have to give permission for an outside doctor to treat her. Or in “T.V. Show Logic”, Charles knew Magneto during the twin’s childhood and stepped in to help Wanda of his own volition.

Personality: The Evolution Magneto is more of a manipultive puppeteer than his 616 counterpart, though more emotionally stable. His goals are not world conquest, but mutant aweness and protection.

Powers: Evolution Magneto is even more limited, manipulating magnetic fields and metallic objects exclusively. The scale of his power, while still not on the level of his 616 counterpart, is nonetheless impressive. While battling Apocalypse, Magneto draws satellites out of orbit to fling at his foe.

Movies

Biography: Young Erik Lehnsherr was torn from his parent’s arms during the “Selektion” at Auschwitz and they were sent to the gas chamber. Erik revealed his powers in trying to reach them. His marriage is not mentioned, nor are any of his children. Though his prior friendship with Xavier is shown, how they met is not discussed. In the movies and their novelizations, he and Charles started the School together, though exactly how they parted ways is not discussed.  

Personality: The Movie Magneto is emotionally colder than any of his other counterparts, and the most murderous barring the Ultimate Magneto.

Powers: The Movie Magneto is perhaps the least powerful of all of Magneto’s incarnations. He seems to be limited to manipulating metallic objects and is so weak, he requires Mystique to inject extra iron into the guards bloodstream to make use of in his escape. 

However, in X3, he moved the Golden Gate Bridge (which made no sense whatsoever).

Novels

The novels are based on the comic book universe of the 616, so Magneto's personality and biography is essentially the same as you would find in the comics.

Mutant Empire (Vol.s 1 – 3)

By Christopher Golden

Magneto and the Acolytes hijack the sentinels to take over New York City in Golden 1996 - 1997 series of novels. The story seems to take place in that incredibly brief period between the establishment of Avalon in Uncanny #304 and Xavier wiping Magneto's mind in X-Men #25. The premise of the story is good, but in execution it is very uneven. Golden is forced to include a Starjammers plot to remove half of the X-Men from the playing field for the first two books to create the necessary jeopardy. Both of these stories would have been great in and of themselves, but together they feel awkward especially when the Starjammers are quickly written off stage at the beginning of the third book so that the two plots never entwine. The human response to Magneto’s conquest of NYC is excellently played and examined, and Golden briefly makes a very interesting point that Magneto’s political philosophy is inherently flawed because while he may moderate his violence he does not have the necessary control of those beneath him, both mutant and human, to keep violence he started from spiraling out of control. The books would have been excellent if it had explored this notion in more depth, but it did not, instead using it as an excuse for an endless series of action sequences. There is nothing wrong with action sequences in a comic book novel of course, but when there were three volumes at his disposal, Golden could have taken some time to explore a couple serious concepts in more detail (especially if he ditched the unneeded Starjammer arc). Instead the reader is treated to a ton of people (including the author) calling Magneto, who kills no one in the course of the story, a "murderer" and a "tyrant" because the Acolytes have responded to deadly threats with deadly force with a number of humans you can count on one hand. Granted, they should not have put the humans in that position where they felt the need to make deadly threats to begin with, but it just reads as biased without an opposing viewpoint given.

It also suffers from a lack of research by the author, who obviously does not know how Cyclops’ power works, or the fact that Magneto has repeatedly stolen any lightning Storm has thrown at him and used it against her. The ELECTRO part of “electromagnetism” seems to have slipped by him so the author does not apply Magneto's powers on the range that he has proven himself capable of, keeping the character confined to shields and manipulting metal. One tiny science fact is also expanded far beyond its natural means in order to make Storm look good, which breaks the suspension of disbelief. While snow does absorb some solar radiation, as the rest of the planet’s surface does, it obviously does not absorb electromagnetic radiation at the scales the author wants it too. Otherwise, our North and South poles would well, they wouldn’t exist. A snow storm is not going to stop Magneto from using his powers.

There are also a couple of "Umm...you know it would be a lot easier if they just..." moments as well.

Magneto’s characterization is good, it is that Nicieza’s the Fatal Attractions Magneto: Intelligent, dedicated, determined, an arrogant fanatic with a Messiah complex, but not so insane that he is not perfectly capable. Of course the traditional inaccurate comparisons to Hitler are made (all demagogues must be Hitler I guess), but the character itself shows how inaccurate those comparisons are. The final confrontation between Xavier and Magneto is…odd. You have to judge that one for yourself. I'm sort of o.k. with it and sort of not. There seems to be a lot of contradictions and pointing out things Claremont had pointed out years ago already. As a action sequence it's great, but as a philosophical debate...it is a little nonsensical.

Chaos Engine (Vol.s 1 - 3)

By Steven A. Roman

Magneto wins Benevolent Dictator of the 616 Award when he takes his turn, between Doom and the Red Skull, with a flawed Cosmic Cube that Roma, the Omniversal Guardian, sends the X-Men after lest all of reality be undone. While the first two books of this 2000-2002 series start out really sloooow (let’s put it this way, you’d better love Warren and Besty, because they take up most of the books), in the third book the pace picks up and the story is very enjoyable. The action is well done. The Cosmic Cube is more than a mere MacGuffin, and the revelation of what it is actually doing is quite clever. All the disparate pieces of the story were brought together well to wrap things up very satisfactorily. Plenty of guest stars come and go in their various incarnations through this multiverse story, and the characterizations are well done (though yet again, we face another writer who has no idea how Scott’s power works.)

Magneto’s characterization is quite good, part Chris Claremont’s Redeemable Magneto and part Fabian Nicieza’s Mutant Messiah. (Though inexplicably, the author chose to resurrect the abusive Silver Age Magneto-Toad relationship for a few lines.) While the second book is ostensibly his, Magnus has a constant role throughout all three volumes as the wild card. His journey seeming to put him back on track to redemption as his overriding need to save Anya reawakens the father and the man in him. Overall, an excellent read for Magneto fans.