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An ongoing list of my favourite comic characters → Erik Lehnsherr | Magneto | Marvel

Magneto fascinates me as a character. He has such a complicated history and so much depth to him, something that is often forgotten. There have been times where he has been treated as little more than the psychotic, megalomaniac of the week and made into more of a ‘cartoon’ villain than one with any real depth or drive.
Those times made me despair at comic writers.
His loyalties change, he switches sides depending on which side is most likely to give him what he wants and help him achieve his goals. For all that he was painted as a villain for a long time, his main goal, his real motivation (aside from during those times of megalomania) was and still remains the protection of mutants.
He just goes about it in the wrong way most of the time.
That’s what I love about him. He shows just how much actions shape perceptions. It’s not enough to have all of these good intentions, to want to protect mutants from humans and ensure that another genocide does not happen. The fact that he sets himself at odds with humans, takes the immediate aggressive and reactionary position means that he can never achieve that because he is using the very means that he wants to stop.
You cannot prevent violence against someone if you use violence yourself to do it.
He’s not a good man, he says it himself over and over. He cannot be like Charles Xavier, he cannot be held up as the ideal, as a model of ‘good’ mutants. So more often than not, he sets himself up as the very model of a ‘bad’ mutant, so that those like Xavier are made to see better in comparison. He helps them find acceptance by alienating himself.
He’s an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, he has committed terrible crimes against humanity, on the other, he wants only to protect his ‘people.’ He is very much a product of circumstance, influenced by everything that he experienced as a Jewish boy during the Holocaust.
Sometimes people forget that. They forget that he lived through a genocide. His goal is not to start another, but to prevent one. Though it’s a very fine line and one that he has come close to crossing on more than one occasion. 
He is the proof that people can change, that we all have the potential for both great good and great evil. With Magneto, he does not choose his side based on the traditional ‘good’ and ‘evil’ dynamic. He chooses the side that he believes will help him achieve his goals.
It makes him more human in my eyes at least, because that’s how people make their choices in everyday life. It’s not always about the bigger ‘moral’ picture and being ‘good’ or ‘evil’. It’s about accomplishing the things you want to accomplish.

Charles Francis Xavier AKA Professor X/Erik Lehnsherr AKA Magneto - Then and Now.