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Who is Magneto?

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Spectral Knight
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Who is Magneto?

Post by Spectral Knight » 10 Aug 2017, 19:33

Not a literal, who is this weird guy in the bucket-hat, but a bit more of a considered examination on the X-Men's flagship big bad.Stemming out of this thread, I thought it may be prudent to broaden the debate and arguments raised on who exactly Magneto is, his motivations, his rationale, and where creators have nailed the character, versus those you might feel have completely missed the mark with him.

For me, the "best" portrayal is that of a genocide victim who would do anything to prevent'his people' suffer the same crimes against humanity, but who's short-sightedness, rage and arrogance, results in his doing far greater damage to his cause that he could ever realise. I liked the implied progression of a man who desired mutant domination over baseline humans because he realised the inherent cruelty of man would always result in prejudice to a man who realised Charles + the X-Men would always stop his efforts at domination, whereas isolationism and the separation of homo sapiens and homo superiors was a completely achievable goal and yet still completely contrary to the Dream, both dismissive of Charles' efforts at integration and the acceptability of violence to get what he wants. I think Claremont, more than any other creator, 'gets' Magneto, but I recognise some might see his particular interpretation as dull and repeatable. And we know Claremont can struggle to comprehend character development that he wasn't responsible for...

At his worse, Magneto's been portrayed as power-mad, or indeed simply 'mad' and a terrorist for terrorism sake. However, even writers have questioned whether or not the character is still relevant. Of course, there's two ways he could be irrelevant as a villain would be to be killed off in glorious failure, or to reform to the point of anti-heroism, and no longer an antagonist to our bunch of merry mutants.

So your thoughts? Is Mags still the big bad of the franchise given recent years? Is the character so muddied through different interpretations that we no longer know as readers his motivations? Is he as simplistic as " is a mad old terrorist twat" and does that mean we require a new big bad for the X-Men franchise. Is the recent hero on hero fetish that we've seen in recent years due to a decline in believable villains such as Magneto?
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Blackcyclops » 10 Aug 2017, 19:40

Man some leading questions there lol....definitely have to think about it. But I will say, Magneto's case isn't really applicable to all major villains at large (see: Thanos, the Soidee-man rogues, or Doom)...
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Spectral Knight » 10 Aug 2017, 19:45

For sure his is a different case, I think that's part of the fun lol.

I didn't mean those opening questions to be leading per se. Provocative, hopefully. I mean, I know there's a range of opinions out there through snippets of other conversations, but I think it'd be good to have a Magneto examination in principal rather than an off-shot of another thread.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Quick and Dead » 10 Aug 2017, 22:50

I've really appreciated how writers have portrayed him in recent years, specifically Gillen and Bunn, and actually, even Bendis who actually writes a decent Magneto. He's the same Magneto as ever, just wiser and more in control of his rage. He's okay with taking a backseat if it gets the job done and is more likely to delegate and trust others but never completely. More of a schemer and long time planner and less the world dominating type he used to be. After he got his powers back, he bowed down to Cyclops but wasn't afraid to go off and do his own thing, which he did many times throughout Gillen and Bendis' run. He kept a lot of secrets from Cyclops, just like he did with Psylocke later in Bunn's Uncanny. Bunn's Magneto solo series is some of the best X-Men work of the last decade. His Magneto in Uncanny and now Blue continues this characterization of Magneto as this behind the scenes mastermind, first trying to use the Hellfire Club, some X-Men, Alocyotes, Xorn, etc. and now using the O5 to further his goals. It's kind of like a retired actor who now finds himself behind the camera as a director.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Blackcyclops » 11 Aug 2017, 00:40

I love that analogy...like ALOT
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Spectral Knight » 11 Aug 2017, 10:59

Interesting - I've got to be honest, I've missed some of these runs you've mentioned, but what are Magneto's schemes leading to? Is there a clear end-goal? I guess, I'm wondering has his motivation, as well as his approach and means of getting to his destination, actually changed.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Blackcyclops » 11 Aug 2017, 11:35

No...he still wants mutantkind to survive and thrive. That's ALWAYS been his motivation. At times he's leaned more towards dominance and even now, that's still were his heart is. But it's always always about their survival. And his plans now are to the same ends.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Spectral Knight » 11 Aug 2017, 12:44

Survival's probably a moot point, and quite instinctual. Charles and the X-Men also want survival and to me, it's a combination of conquest and domination to ensure that survival that contributes to Magneto's scale of 'villainy' - at his most heroic, he's fought for peaceful integration (admittedly not for long - post Xavier handing over the reigns of the X-Men / New Mutants to him) but at his worst, it's not just domination, but at times eradication of humanity. I'm not sure on the whole where Magneto sits on this scale in contemporary books, but to me, he works best when somewhere between the two.

In addition, there's also a personal vendetta element against the X-Men that seems to shift with the tides - one example is that the 'real' Magneto crucified Xavier before then trying to re-establish Genosha together in their next meeting in Excalibur, but there's been plenty of shifts in their dynamic. Given this, Is the character of Magneto actually mentally unbalanced? Was Morrison right to label him as 'mad''?
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Blackcyclops » 11 Aug 2017, 12:52

Being apart of a persecuted minority, survival is FAR from a moot point. Particularly someone who was apart of a generation where the possibility of eradication of his people felt very real to him. Moreso than any other major X-character (except for maybe Warpath). In contemporary books he sits firmly where me and QaD placed...he's not out to eradicate humanity or rule them (although he certainly wouldn't mind the latter) but wants his people to survive and thrive. And he'll go about doing that using means that Xavier would be either squeamish to utilize or would at least be hesitant to use.

I mean why wouldn't he feel a personal vendetta against the X-Men? They've beaten his ass like a few dozen times LOL...Spider-Man is a pretty amazing superhero and even he has personal feelings of "I want to kick this dude's ass" towards his top foes. The fact that Magneto has altered and swallowed his pride shows a growth that many superheroes probably couldn't achieve.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Spectral Knight » 11 Aug 2017, 13:12

No, what I mean is that all of the X-Men are of a persecuted minority...so within every mutant there's a inherent desire to survive. Of course, his very personal experiences of the Holocaust completely colours that survival instinct, and certainly in Magneto's own mind, arguably changes what it means to 'survive'.

Anyway, so Mags has changed from one who has (on occasion) sought to at least dominate, if not eradicate... does that mean he's no longer a 'villain' for the franchise, and if so, do the X-books miss Magneto 'the villain'? Is his change such that his (anti-?)heroism mean he's no longer an antagonist to the X-Men, and this is a better move for the character (and/or the franchise as a whole) than him remaining a villain?

Does it also call into question those over simplify Magneto and his characterisation?
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Cable » 11 Aug 2017, 16:14

He is definitely not the "big bad" of the X-Men anymore. He has no more of a severe position than Emma Frost and she is ruler of the mutant nation.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Gurney Halleck » 30 Apr 2018, 15:56

Any one's guess is as good as any other's, I'm afraid. Interpretated differently on too many occasions.

Personally, I think that after questioning his methods and even temporarily joining the X-men in the 80s, he was no longer convincing as a villain. Yet he would have been unconvincing as X-man too.

Within the Marvel Universe, already in the 60s, there Always have been characters that were neither good nor evil. They had their interests, which sometimes would bring them in alliance with heroes and on other occasions in conflict with them.

Even the Hulk is not a hero. He is not a villain and tends to help people when he sees them in trouble, but he is not looking for it.
Hulk and the Inhumans tend to side with heroes, Galactus tends to fight them, but basically, they're hero nor villain.

Namor the Sub-Mariner and High Evolutionary literally change sides depending on what use a writer has for them.
And is the Stranger a villain?

These 'Third Force' characters are not enemies, but can be opponents.

I think Magneto should have been made a Third Forcer as well. Then writers could have used him alternately as ally or antagonist, without having to explain why he is good one story and bad another.

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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by grief » 01 May 2018, 21:39

I think that's it's much more telling that Magneto has spent the past few years working with the X-Men (in some capacity) than on his own. After the events of House of M, Deadly Genesis, Decimation, and more recently the M-Pox bullsh, the X-Men ideology has definitely move more towards Magnus' "survival at any cost" than away from it.

My favorite Magneto is probably the AoA version, cuz I think it perfectly captures the potential of Magneto, which serves to also highlight the tragedy of him never being able to move past his own pain in the 616. In regular continuity, it's the end-run of Claremont's first time through the X-Books. He tried being a revolutionary, he tried being a teacher, now he's settled for semi-religious exile - Magneto-as-Idea, almost. Naturally, this comes from me being a 90s kid, and Magneto being an almost mythic figure at that point. The two schools of thought amongst the Acolytes (Magnus fighting to live but showing mercy VS Magnus fighting for dominance, regardless of the human cost) was very interesting to me and only possible because Magneto couldn't speak for himself. Odd, perhaps, that my favorite version of Magneto isn't a version of Magneto himself, but what can ya do?

When Lobdell brought him back in Uncanny 350 as kinda crazy, I was very put off. I could understand a return to his more driven state, but to psychologically torture the X-Men? That felt a bit too personal, in my mind, given the characters involved (personal grudges between Magneto and Charles, sure, possibly Magneto and Wolverine, but Gambit? Given my fanship of the AoA, I would almost buy the idea that Magneto did it to protect Rogue from this dangerous and untrustworthy guy, but why wait so long?), and we never learned HOW Magneto knew about Remy's secret. I think that Davis' version during the Magneto Wars is perhaps the "best" villainous Magneto to me. Grandiose and over the top, sure, intelligent and well thought out, for the most part, and it ended in a WIN? That ain't bad. I absolutely HATED Morrison's version, but I can appreciate the idea behind why Morrison did what he did (almost the opposite of Lobdell's Magneto-as-an-ideal, Morrison's was more Magneto-as-out-of-touch-and-passe). I dug Carey's use of Magnus during X-Men: Legacy, I liked Gillen's use during his time on Uncanny, I liked Bunn's more pragmatic-yet-tortured Magnus in the solo and his more manipulative version in his Uncanny run. I refuse to read Bendis' run, so yeah.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Gurney Halleck » 04 Jun 2018, 14:06

My favorite interpretation of Magneto (being a 90s teenager) is the way he was used in the 90s cartoon series. Adversary one episode, ally the next.

But - unlike his interpretation in Uncanny #304 and X-men #25 - not aiming to kill humans. He fought for the survival of his kind, because no one else would do it, and he seemed to do it reluctantly. His confrontations with the X-men (actually, only in one story, episodes 3-4, did they actually fight) were more philosphical than physical.

Isn't it sad, that a cartoon series gave the character more dept than most of the 90s comics?

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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Gurney Halleck » 04 Jun 2018, 14:13

grief wrote:
01 May 2018, 21:39
the X-Men ideology has definitely move more towards Magnus' "survival at any cost" than away from it.
Nailing it on the spot.

For me, also a reason why I drifted away from X-men ever since 'House of M'.

One small nuance: a lot of action fiction, past 15 years, seems to have done away with antagonists wanting to be 'better' than their foes in terms of ethics. It's no longer 'staying above their level' or 'stopping their actions, but hoping to reform', but simply 'eye for an eye'.

So it could also be a sign of the spirit of our times, I'm afraid.

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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Blackcyclops » 04 Jun 2018, 15:29

Gurney Halleck wrote:
04 Jun 2018, 14:13
grief wrote:
01 May 2018, 21:39
the X-Men ideology has definitely move more towards Magnus' "survival at any cost" than away from it.
Nailing it on the spot.

For me, also a reason why I drifted away from X-men ever since 'House of M'.

One small nuance: a lot of action fiction, past 15 years, seems to have done away with antagonists wanting to be 'better' than their foes in terms of ethics. It's no longer 'staying above their level' or 'stopping their actions, but hoping to reform', but simply 'eye for an eye'.

So it could also be a sign of the spirit of our times, I'm afraid.

Don’t think grief’s statement is accurate post IvX...

And definitely not as broad a generalization either across action fiction more broadly.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Gurney Halleck » 15 Jun 2018, 07:21

For decades, Cyclops was the one making sure the X-men would never cross the moral line of killing opponents. Then one day he orders Wolverine to start a black ops killing squad, X-force.

(having Warpath and Wolfsbane on that group tells much about the declining regard of character continuity).

So I think Grief has a point.

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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by tokenBG1009 » 15 Jun 2018, 09:34

I imagine that's why he specified post-IvX.

Ever since AvX Cyclops has been pretty non-violent unless threatened. He's willing to feint, but he hasn't taken much violent action from AvX to his death.
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by Blackcyclops » 15 Jun 2018, 10:30

Gurney Halleck wrote:
15 Jun 2018, 07:21
For decades, Cyclops was the one making sure the X-men would never cross the moral line of killing opponents. Then one day he orders Wolverine to start a black ops killing squad, X-force.

(having Warpath and Wolfsbane on that group tells much about the declining regard of character continuity).

So I think Grief has a point.

Actually it says that only if you neglect EVERYTHING that led to it...if you actually follow the throughline from his possession by Apoccy to Morrison to Decimation to AvX you see the journey of a kinda emotionally damaged man who was raised in a pretty unhealthy environment, who went from a former child soldier to a leader of a broken and struggling people. The fact that he still did heroic stuff is a f***ing miracle lol
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Re: Who is Magneto?

Post by grief » 16 Jun 2018, 23:10

BOTH of you have a point.

I agree with BC that Cyclops' journey (what I would call a fall from grace) justifies the creation of X-Force and his actions after that for the character. The X-Men - and mutantkind in general - had been pushed to the brink. Scott had been raised from an adolescent to protect his people, to keep people safe, and also had a fair amount of disillusionment with Xavier's dream, tactics, and life choices thanks to the events of Deadly Genesis. As someone who went from being a soldier to general, I think that Scott's reaction was on point. It's not morally okay, IMO, but it fits the logic of the character.

I also agree that Gurney has a point regarding Wolfsbane and Warpath, neither of whom were characters that were okay with killing people. To be fair, Kyle and Yost did NOT use Rahne as a killer in their X-Force run, instead portraying her as a voice of reason before having some really terrible things happen to her. Rahne was as much a victim of hate and violence as the Purifiers that X-Force went around murdering in that book. Other than maybe the Counter-X era of X-Force, I can't remember Jimmy killing someone, and I think that if he did, they might have been monsters? I seem to remember some kind of mutant-plant-monster plague thing? That whole era is foggy for me, so I could be wrong. But yeah, those were some lazy (initial) character choices that showed little care for the history for them.

I do feel like, since the end of IvX, that the X-Men have moved closer to the pre-Decimation moral line. There hasn't been any leader-sanctioned murder teams (Weapon X being off the radar) and the teams generally doing their best to save lives (I'm specifically thinking of the Astonishing team's actions in London). However, with no real philosophical leader, I also feel that the X-Men could slip back at any moment. That's one of the things I'm really enjoying about X-Men: Red; Jean feels like a modern day Xavier. She isn't just preaching tolerance and peace, but she's fighting for it while causing as little pain and suffering as possible. I'd love to see Tom Taylor take over the main "spine" of the X-books and see this agenda expanded.
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