Magneto In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

Premiering in the fall of 2000, X-Men: Evolution featured a de-aged cast, for the majority of its characters. Now, I didn’t find this to be too big a problem, I did however, find the networks issue to practically ignore anyone over the age of 20 in the show. This meant a lot of the villains and even some of the heroes couldn’t be developed as well as they could, nay, should’ve been. Unfortunately for our favourite mutant villain, this included Magneto.

The show actually worked around this and attempted to make it work, by having Magneto appear sparingly in the first season, but make it seem that he was pulling the strings whilst the younger villains actually did the work. It did seem to go a little too far at certain points, as every episode eventually became a fight between The Brotherhood and The X-Men, most of which were terrible and worse yet, filled with rock puns. There were a few cool Magneto appearances in the season however, particularly the one in which he helped Quicksilver escape from prison. The scene was staged well, and made Magneto appear to be menacing, as he was draped in shadow. They didn’t actually reveal his face until the finale, which left me slightly intrigued back when I first watched the show. It wasn’t all cool however, in a scene in which he threatens to intimidate Mystique into doing his bidding, he does so by attempting to hurt her with paperclips. Paperclips. Thank you, Broadcast Standards and Practises.

It’s probably best to mention this here, that this Magneto has the coolest looking version of Magneto ever. The black worked oh so perfectly with the red and purple, and the Batman style black shadowing made him one of the best designs in a show that has filled with stunning visuals.

He eventually unveiled his big plan in The Cauldron, a two part season finale and even sent a tingle down my spine when he said “I offer you sanctuary”. This wasn’t anywhere near as good as Sanctuary of course, but was still a hell of a lot better than the majority of the season.

Things picked up in season two and by the time Magneto appeared again, he was in much better form, as the lone villain in On Angel’s Wings, which is in my opinion, easily the show’s finest episode. Whilst the episode doesn’t say it outright, Magneto is attempting to recruit new members for his team, after The Brotherhood and Mystique had proven to be useless to him. There was something spectacular about the episode, and the fight scene in the New York skies is one of the show’s finest brawls. Magneto’s past came to haunt him in his next appearance, as Wanda escapes from her Mental Hospital and joins Mystique and The Brotherhood, as Magneto begins his master plan.

Mere words and pretty screen captures can’t do the final three episodes of season two justice. The show was entertaining pre-Hex Factor, but started knocking them out of the park on a regular basis post Hex Factor. I think one of the main reasons why the series took such a huge boost in quality is rather simple. The X-Men at long last had something they’d never had before – a threat. At this point in the series, The Brotherhood were little more than comedy losers (which believe me, was an overwhelming improvement over being typical supervillains), Juggernaut had only appeared once and got beat and Sabertooth was Wolverine’s whipping boy. In these episode, we see Magneto finally become the threat he was originally meant to be, The Sentinels make their debut and instantly become the biggest enemy they’ve ever faced and at long last, humans are aware of mutants, meaning that X-Men: Evolution finally feels like an X-Men show. If you haven’t already, you owe it to yourself to see these episodes. Since X-Men: Evolution isn’t shown on TV anymore (why you ask? Damned if I know) than I would highly recommend picking up the final volume of season two on DVD.

Magneto spent much of season three with his new team, The Acolytes and running away from his uncontrollable daughter Wanda, whom he had abandoned at a Mental Asylum as a child when her powers became too much from her. He even recruited Mastermind (one of the original villains from The Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants) in order to mind wipe her, and replace her hateful memories of her Father with happy ones. After finally relieving himself of Wanda, Magneto focused his attentions on stopping Apocalypse’s resurrection. For these few episodes, it was great to finally see Magneto take the centre stage instead of being the one pulling the strings. There was something oh so cool about seeing his Acolytes and the original X-Men team up to fight a giant, glowing green spider, and in the season 3 finale, we got to see more of The X-Men/Acolytes team up, and at long last, actually got to see Magneto team up with Professor Xavier!

Their history isn’t mentioned, but there was something magic about seeing them together on screen. It didn’t happen nearly as much as I’d have liked it to have, but the network insisted on other characters being developed. The final moments set the tone for the upcoming season, as Apocalypse manages to defeat all of The X-Men, The Acolytes and The Brotherhood in half a minute, as Xavier states that the war is just beginning.

Magneto was once again the central character in the final seasons’ opener, Impact. Now determined to stop Apocalypse at all costs, this episode is probably best known for featuring one of the most badass moments in the characters history. Attempting to destroy the dome covering Apocalypse’s pyramid, Magneto attracts satellites from spaceand sending them crashing into the dome. It was just so utterly cool, it almost the characters’ ‘death’ moments later, as Apocalypse basically made Magneto explode simply by thinking about it.

As with most cartoons, it was later revealed that he (along with Mystique, who also ‘died’ in Impact) weren’t really dead, they had merely become Horsemen of Apocalypse and they made their presence known in the two-part series finale, as they demolished several Sentinels with ease. After the fight the single robot gave The X-Men in Day Of Reckoning, it was weird seeing Magneto rip them apart with ease, but it did help set the stage for the final episode, which saw a brainwashed Magneto fighting his children, and the three of them leaving in each other’s arm once the threat of Apocalypse was defeated.

The show ended in an optimistic way, and Magneto was no exception. The final montage shows that Magneto would later go on to become an instructor at Xavier’s Institute, helping path the way for humans and mutants to live together.

As you’re already aware, Magneto hasn’t been seen in animation since. We’ve had 3 legendary live action performances from Sir Ian McKellan, an outstanding interpretation in the 1990’s and a decent if under-utilised in X-Men: Evolution, but with Wolverine And The X-Men coming next fall, one would be foolish to assume that Magneto’s return to animation is that far away.

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