Magneto is a mutant, meaning his superpowers were with him from birth and not acquired later in life. In his case, these powers give him almost total control over the force of magnetism; he is able to move iron-containing objects near him at will. He can assemble complex machinery and manipulate ferrous objects with nearly unlimited range. He can create force fields of great strength, stopping nearly all physical and energy attacks, and can also fly using this power. To a lesser extent Magneto controls many other energy forms: heat, light, ultraviolet, gamma rays, and even gravitons. He can intensify and focus these forces to cause damage to anyone within his vicinity. Magneto can detect movement within the magnetic lines of force, and is able to detect teleporting or invisible creatures nearby. Magneto's superpower is one of the strongest in the Marvel universe, making him quite possibly the most powerful and dangerous human living on Earth. He has also demonstrated knowledge in matters of genetic engineering, mutating humans in the past in order to provide them with superpowers. His other talents include the areas of electronics, robotics, engineering, and computers.
Magneto is a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp. As a young boy, his powers not yet developed, he witnessed the murder of his family and his entire village by the Nazis during the Holocaust. He has since been tormented by the fact that, had he only been aware of his full powers at the time, he could have put a stop to the entire process; the entire Nazi military would not have presented an insurmountable challenge to Magneto in his prime.
After World War II, he married Magda, a fellow survivor of the Nazi death camps, and sired a daughter, Anya. Magneto consciously used his mutant abilities for the first time to protect Magda and himself from a fire. Unfortunately he was unable to rescue his daughter from the blaze due to his inexperience coupled with interference from hostile humans. He unleashed his powers to decimate the human crowd in revenge. Terrified by Magneto's powers, Magda left him. Months later Magda would discover that she was pregnant and would die giving birth under the auspicies of the artificially evolved midwife cow, Bova at the foothills of the demonically empowered Wundagore to the mutant twins Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch.
Magneto made his way to the newly created nation of Israel. Magneto befriended Charles Xavier while working at a psychiatric hospital near Haifa. Neither revealed to the other the fact that he was a mutant. The two held lengthy debates hypothesizing what would happen if humanity were to be faced with a super-powered new race. The two friends revealed their powers to each other when they prevented ex-Nazi, Baron Wolfgang Strucker[?] and his HYDRA agents from obtaining a large cache of Nazi gold. Realizing that he and Xavier's views on mutant-human relations were incompatible Magneto left with the gold.
His experience in the death camps has shaped Magneto's outlook on the current situation that mutants in the Marvel Universe face. Determined that such atrocities will never be committed against mutant-kind, he is willing to use deadly force to protect mutants. He has several times expressed the belief that mutants (whom he calls Homo superior) will eventually become the dominant life form on the planet, and he constantly wavers between wanting to exist in harmony with Homo sapiens, wanting a separate homeland for mutants, and wanting to enforce his superiority over all humanity. Magneto's status as hero or villain is a complex one. His methods are often extreme, but his goals are often noble at their root.
Magneto came to the public eye with an attack on the American Military base at Cape Citadel. He was thwarted by his old friend, Xavier's mutant students code-named the X-Men. He briefly conquered the tiny South American nation of San Marco[?] with the aid of a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (including his children Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch though their familial ties were unknown to all three at the time), hoping to establish a mutant homeland there, but was thwarted by the X-Men. He went on to create an orbital base of operations in an asteroid which he dubbed "Astroid M," in which he and his mutant followers had hollowed out a large habitat for themselves. At one point the governments of the world collaborated in the construction of a magnetic grid designed to prevent Magneto from returning to Earth from this base, but in retaliation Magneto personally generated an electromagnetic pulse sufficient to shut down most of the machinery on Earth; it was only Magneto's reluctance to become a Hitler-like tyrant that caused him to ultimately relent. Dabbling in genetics Magneto created an artificial humanoid whom he named Alpha the Ultimate-Mutant[?]. Unfortunately, as often happens with artificially created creatures, Alpha rebelled against his creator. Alpha reduced Magneto to infancy using his powers. The World Court chose to strike all charges against the infant Magneto deeming this artificial "rebirth" constituted a figurative death of the old Magneto. Magneto was placed in the care of Professor Moira MacTaggert[?] at Muir Isle[?]. There the mutant baby was found and restored to adulthood by the alien Shi'ar[?] agent Shakari[?] under his alias as Erik the Red[?].
Magneto returned to his attempts at global conquest. He has been opposed time and again by the X-Men and a number of other self-styled heroes. In his most audacious attempt to conquer the world he threatened the governments of the world with earthquakes and volcanic activity. Though he had no qualms about sinking a Russian submarine killing all aboard and then raising a volcano in the city of Varykino as an object lesson, Magneto was shocked when he physically struck down the young adolescent X-Man Shadowcat in battle. Shocked that he had harmed such a young girl (whether Magneto was aware that most major cities and even minor ones contain a diverse population of various ages is unknown) Magneto put an end to his attempt at world conquest and retreated to rethink the path his life had taken.
Magneto found himself allied with Professor Xavier and the X-Men when a group of heroes and villains were abducted to an alien world to participate in the Secret Wars. He was next called upon to aid the X-Men in battling the nearly omnipotent yet frustratingly short-sighted being, The Beyonder. His association with the heroic team softened his views on humanity and Magneto surrendered himself to the law in order to stand trial for his past crimes. A special tribunal was organized and Magneto intended to abide by whatever verdict was brought. The trial was interrupted by the attack of Fenris, the twin children of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. Fenris was defeated but Professor Xavier was brought to the point of death due to the strain of battle and previously sustained injuries. Xavier asked Magneto to take over his School and the X-Men. Xavier told Magneto that doing so would make amends enough for his past crimes (Xavier was at this point an observer at the trial and had no authority to do so, furthermore he was dying and his lucidity may be questioned). Magneto agreed and chose not to return to the courtroom. Instead he took over Xavier's school under the identity of Michael Xavier, Charles Xavier's cousin, and was a fugitive from justice.
Though Magneto made a substantial effort as the headmaster to a group of young mutants and an ally to the X-Men, his tenure was disastrous. He was forced to deal with the death of all of the younger students, the New Mutants[?], and their traumatic return to life. He was manipulated by the White Queen[?], mutant headmaster of the rival school the Massachetus Academy, battled legally recognized heroes such as the Avengers and the Supreme Soviets, was unable to prevent his students Roberto da Costa and the alien Technarch Warlock from running away from the school, saw the death of the young mutant student Douglas Ramsey and witnessed on national television the death of all of the senior X-Men team (though they later got better). Feeling that desperate measures needed to be taken Magneto forged an alliance with the X-Men's enemies The Hellfire Club and went so far as to oust longtime co-chair Sebastian Shaw in order to establish himself as the Grey King.
Seeing that mutantkind was to be confronted with far more perilous times than ever before, Magneto began seeking allies in order to protect mutants from humanity. Towards this end he participated in the Acts of Vengeance alongside such established villains as Doctor Doom, Wizard and The Mandarin[?]. He also confronted Red Skull, an unrepentant Nazi war criminal, on whom Magneto took revenge by entombing him alive. He worked alongside the American intelligence agent Nick Fury[?] as well as a number of Russian operatives in order to reestablish peace in the Savage Land. Tired of the constant state of strife Magneto built a second orbital base where he hoped to live a life of quiet seclusion. He was by this point a figurehead for the cause of mutanthood and was sought out by a number of new mutants calling themselves the Acolytes[?]. In recent years Magneto has set his sights significantly lower than world conquest; he seeks only a haven for mutantkind. He first attempted to make the orbital base known as Avalon such a haven but was opposed by the governments of the world and the X-Men. Later, in order to placate the powerful mutant, the world governments decided to give the master of magnetism the island nation of Genosha. Magneto ruled that nation for some time with the aid of many who had previously opposed him. Genosha was recently decimated by yet another rogue mutant, namely Cassandra Nova Xavier, Charles Xavier's previously unknown dead sister. Magneto and 16 million mutants who were gathered at Genosha were reported deceased. In New X-Men #132 , months after the event, a team of X-Men searching in the debris found a recording of Magneto's last words as he laid dying. He has since been held as a martyr of the mutant cause and his ideas are becoming wide-spead in the mutant community, still opposing those of Xavier.
Magneto was played in the movie X-Men and its sequel by Sir Ian McKellen. Magneto's powers in the movie appear to be subtly different than in the comic books. In particular, Magneto's powers appear to only be over iron, and to have a limited range, though he is still one of the most powerful mutants on Earth. In the movies, his primary goal is to ensure the survival of mutantkind, and he is willing to kill all non-mutants or change them into mutants to ensure this.
Magneto is also the name of a popular mexican boy band of the 1990s. One of Magneto's new members recently suffered an accident and had to be hospitalized in Guatemala when he lost four of his fingers after they got cut off by their helicopter's fan as he was greeting the many girls who went to the airport to receive them.