Full Name: Erik Lensherr
Age: unknown due to poor records, but thought to be in mid to late 70s
Occupation: former scholar, esteemed lecturer, and mutant researcher with a background in biology and engineering
Mutant Abilities: Advanced generation and control of magnetic fields and various magnetic forces. Powers allow him to manipluate metal at the molecular level, altering their viscosity to make them behave as liquids and solids without them getting hot. Through use of his powers, he can also levitate and fly at high speeds.
History: Little is known about the early life of Erik Lensherr. Born into a German Jewish family at a time of widespread anti-semetism, much of Erik's early life was surrounded by prejudice and bigotry. It isn't clear where or when he was born, but it is known he spent much of his early life in Poland. Not much is known about his parents other than his father was a dishonorably discharged soldier who instilled taught his son to be a fighter early on. Any records of what young Erik's life was like and what his family was like were lost when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
Like so many others, Erik and his family were unable to escape. His father, being the fighter he was, attempted to protect his family from the Nazis. He was swiftly slain by German soldiers and for his defiance, they went onto torture and kill Erik's mother and older sister right before the young boys eyes. He attempted to fight back, but the Nazis spared him. Instead of killing him with his family, they let him watch as they tossed his family into a mass grave and then shipped him off to a concentration camp. It was in these bleak, inhumane conditions that Eirk Lensherr spent most of World War II. With no family to protect him, he was forced to rely on the fighting instinct his father instilled in him. It allowed him to survive through the atrocities of the holocaust until the camp was liberated by Allied forces. It was during this raid when his powers first manifested. He had been cornered and was used as a human shield by German soldiers. Yet in his desire to fight, he generated his first magnetic fields that forcibly disarmed the soldier and opened the gate for others to escape.
Now free, young Erik sought to rebuild his life. It is at this point again where very little is known. He disappears for a time in the Balkans and no records exist of his activities during this time. When he emerges, he is in his twenties and full of renewed energy. Aggressive and ambitious, he takes his family savings that was kept in a Swiss bank account during the war and enrolls in Oxford. Here he demonstrates an uncanny intelligence, attaining near genius level IQ scores and particpating in advanced research in both engineering and biology. During this time he becomes immersed in the study of mutants, namely his own. He also becomes fascinated by war and conflict. He remains isolated from most of his peers and none know of his mutant status since mutants are not well-known at the time. This doesn't stop him from attaining several degrees in record time. With these degrees he begins traveling and lecuring, studying mutation and how it relates to human conflict.
This goes on for years and again his history becomes unclear. It is believed he traveled the world, studying as many human conflicts as possible while also seeking new information on mutation. He eventually emerges from obscurity when his paths cross with Charles Xavier, a graduate student at Princeston who shared his passion for uncovering the mysteries of mutation and human conflict. The two become fast friends and Charles begins traveling with him into areas ravaged by war. They develop reputations as humanitarians and Erik gains a great deal of insight into humanity through Charles.
As Charles helps him break out of his shell, he meets and falls in love with a woman named Magda Maximoff. She begins traveling with him and eventually becomes pregnant with twins. Then one day while traveling in the Balkan, a group of rebels storm a village that Erik and Charles are working in. Many are killed and the destruction is great. While Charles and Erik try to help as many as they can, a group of soldiers eventually find the pregnant Magda. When Erik finds her they start to beat her. It is at this point Erik erupts in a rage, using his magnetic powers to slaughter the soldiers and end the raid in an overwhelming storm of metal that horrifies both Charles and the surviving villagers. Confused, the villiagers chase Erik, Charles, and the wounded Magda out. They managed to get away, but Magda's fate was sealed. By the time Erik got her to a hospital, she was in critical condition. She was able to give birth to the twins, but she did not survive.
The death of Magda wore heavily on Erik. Charles tried to console him, but the damage had been done. Once the twins, Wanda and Pietro, were deemed healthy enough to leave Erik took them and left Charles to his travels. The two men started growing apart from that day forward as Erik's outlook became increasingly grim and dark. He returns to obscurity. All that is known is that a family friend of the Maximoffs helps raise Wanda and Pietro and Erik becomes increasingly disillusioned with humanity. When he emerges years later, he goes by the new title Magneto, the master of magnetism. He begins a crusade of militant mutant supremecy, actively opposing Charles every step of the way and clashing with him on many occassions.
As Charles Xavier re-focused his efforts and formed the Xavier Institute, the wedge between the two men became even greater. Erik quickly became one of the X-men's chief foes, opposing them and everything they stand for. He has long since convinced himself that humanity is sick and the future belongs to the mutant race.
Character Breakdown: Magneto's personality has all the makings of a messiah complex. Early on in his life, he was taught to be a fighter. His father nourished this desire and it was only reinforced when the Nazis invaded Poland. Seeing his father fight and die did not make him adverse to conflict. Instead it made him realize the importance of power and the need to be able to overwhelm one's enemies. This also instilled in him a contrast between the weak and the strong. The Nazis were strong and were able to oppress the weak. Being seen as weak, young Erik was instilled with a need to be strong and his mutant powers allowed him to do this.
Having been so deeply impacted by the atrocities of the holocaust, Erik naturally seeks to understand this brutal nature. His intelligent mind allows him to study, observe, and document the nature of human conflict. However, the scars of the holocaust and the anger he feels for what was done to his family leads him to see all human conflict as a sign that humans are flawed. This is also where the nature of power comes into play. He has power that many others don't. He is one of the most powerful mutants on the planet thanks to his abilities. So while he sees humans flawed, he starts seeing his kind as something else. This helps instill an us-vs-them mentality, one that constantly shapes and guides his action. This along with his fighter's instinct leads him to place the responsibility of confronting human conflict on himself. Thus, the messiah complex is the very core of who Erik Lensherr is.
It is because of this messiah complex in addition to his intelligence that he is able to become such a powerful leader for mutants. He not only has the abilities to carry him through the conflict, he has the charisma to rally others to his cause. In a ways his cause is a natural response to what he experienced in the holocaust. He is strongly motivated to prevent another such atrocity from happening to the mutant race. As someone who studied mutation so thoroughly, he reasons that mutants are a natural evolution of man and are meant to be an improvement on the levels where mankind fell short. To him it is only a matter of time before all humanity dies out. Any effort to prevent this is only slowing down the evolutionary process and leaving the door open to more human hatred like that of the holocaust. That is simply something Erik will not allow. That is why he takes a title like Magneto, to distance himself from humanity and set himself apart.
This distance allows him to see other humans like insects. He has no qualms about hurting them in the same way people have no qualms about hurting bugs. This is supplemented by a deep anger he feels for humanity. He blames them for all his suffering and because of this anger, he doesn't think rationally despite his intelligence. Only his rage is never blind. It's focused and channeled towards the human race and that anger will persist so long as he sees human flaws as being responsible for their atrocities. Combine this with his mutant powers and he is a force that is difficult to oppose.