I'm sorry, but Magneto does have a point in X-Men '97

Is Magneto a misunderstood hero, a misguided villain, or a bit of both? Whatever he is, he's also pretty relatable.
Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.
Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL. /

Let's dive deep into the world of X-Men '97, where the battle of ideals is just as fierce as the battles to save the world. At the heart of this clash? None other than the Daddy of Magnetism himself - Magneto.

Is he a misunderstood hero, a misguided villain, or a bit of both? What do I think? I think he's very much relatable.

For anyone who might be new to the X-Men scene, Magneto, a.k.a. Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, isn’t your typical villain. His backstory is as heavy as the metal he manipulates. Surviving the Holocaust, Erik has seen the darkest sides of humanity. His experiences have shaped his core belief: mutants (homo superior) will never be safe from humans (homo sapiens). So, his solution? Mutants need to rise up and rule to protect themselves before history repeats itself with mutants in tragic starring roles. I mean, it makes sense, doesn't it? Fast forward to X-Men '97, where Magneto’s philosophy gets a fresh coat of animated paint. Here, Magneto isn’t just reacting - he’s proactively seeking to position mutants as the dominant species to secure their future. But while his endgame sounds like “villain 101,” his reasons resonate with anyone who’s ever felt the sting of being an outsider.

I'll slap a friendly major spoiler warning for those not caught up with X-Men '97. Please read this at your own risk.

X-MEN '97
(L-R): Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson) and Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL. /

Why Magneto kinda has a point

1. Protection through power: In Magneto’s mind, power equals safety. Given his past, can you blame him? In his mind, if mutants are the strongest they can't be oppressed. It’s a simple equation for him: the stronger the mutants, the safer they are.

2. A response to real threats: It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you, right? In X-Men '97, just like in the original X-Men animated series and even the fun X-Men: Evolution, mutants are constantly under threat from government entities, shady organizations, and even sometimes, the general public. Magneto’s drive to elevate mutants isn’t just about power for power’s sake - it’s a survival strategy. The destruction of Genosha and the genocide-like attack toward mutants there speaks louder than any human attack on mutants ever has.

3. A vision of unity (sort of): Magneto does want mutantkind united. He dreams of a world where mutants don’t have to hide or apologize for being different. In a twisted way, his heart's in the right place. He’s all about mutant pride and solidarity, albeit through some... pretty extreme methods. Flip the record over to Professor X’s side and he’s also got dreams of unity, but think of him as the guy who hosts quiet get-togethers where everyone's invited: humans, mutants, everyone. He believes in talking things out, understanding each other, and mutants and humans living together in harmony. Both sides are extreme, and I honestly don't think steering hard towards one or the other is the right answer: a mix of both sides is needed.

While both Professor X and Magneto vibe to the tune of unity, Magneto cranks up the intensity to an 11, whereas Professor X keeps it smooth and mellow. Quite the contrast and conundrum.

X-MEN '97
(L-R): Jean Grey (voiced by Jennifer Hale), Gambit (voiced by AJ LoCascio), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase), Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann), Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson), Beast (voiced by George Buza), Bishop (voiced by Isaac Robinson-Smith), Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd), Storm (voiced by Alison Sealy-Smith), and Jubilee (voiced by Holly Chou) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL. /

But here's where Magneto misses the mark

While Magneto’s got some points that make you go, “Hmm, he’s not totally off base,” there’s a big BUT. His methods? Well, they’re more than a little problematic.

1. All about aggression: Magneto often turns to aggression as his first response, which tends to escalate conflicts rather than resolve them. This not only makes peace harder to achieve but also paints mutants as the very threat he’s trying to protect them from, making humans afraid of their powers and intentions. He also really didn't need to, quite literally, rip all of Wolverine's adamantium straight from his body and end him like that. Though I'm very highly aware of their rivalry towards each other, that aggression is important, but at the right time and against the right people.

2. Us vs. Them mentality: Magneto creates even more division among both species by framing the situation as mutants versus humans. His approach lacks the inclusivity that might actually lead to peace and understanding, leaning more towards "mutants are superior and therefore humans must bow to us". It's hard to remember that not all humans are anti-mutant, especially when the loudest human voices are and after the destruction of Genosha.

3. Freedom... at a cost: Magneto, in his big, bold crusade for mutant rights, occasionally steps on a few too many toes - both human and mutant! It's kind of ironic, right? Here he is, shouting about freedom from the rooftops while snatching it away from others under the cover of night. This little oopsies in his strategy doesn't just trip him up - it actually sends some of his potential allies sprinting in the opposite direction. While Magneto’s heart might be in the right place, his methods don't usually show it, like when he destroys Earth's magnetic fields and hurls everyone into an extinction-level event and refuses to fix it. You know, little things like that.

X-MEN '97
(L-R): Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson) and Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL. /

So, how right is Magneto?

Magneto is right about a lot of things: mutants are in danger, they do need to be strong, and unity is important. However, his execution leaves much to be desired.

In the grand chess game of X-Men '97, Magneto’s play is clear: he moves boldly and with purpose. But even the best players can benefit from reevaluating their strategies now and then. Maybe it’s time for Magneto to try a new tactic, but will he ever? I honestly think it's unlikely. If he dialed down the aggression and opted for more diplomacy, who knows? Perhaps he’d find more success - and Professor Xavier's support along with fewer enemies.

In the animated whirlwind that is X-Men '97, Magneto remains one of the most fascinating characters precisely because he isn’t all wrong or all right - he’s complex, and that’s what makes him so compelling. Whether you cheer for him, jeer at him, or a little bit of both, one thing’s for sure: Erik Lehnsherr keeps the world of X-Men incredibly magnetic.

Next. X-Men '97 retells Wolverine's most traumatic experience. X-Men '97 retells Wolverine's most traumatic experience. dark