The MCU Should Revive X-Men Origins Canceled Plan To Make Magneto Better

It’s only a matter of time until the X-Men are woven into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and one character who deserves special attention is Magneto. Arch-nemesis of the X-Men, Magneto is one of the most sympathetic and complex villains in the entirety of Marvel’s comic book canon. It may be difficult for anyone to top the performances of Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender, thus far the definitive X-Men movie Magneto actors. Yet, an MCU version of Magneto could be given even greater depth by reviving old plans to give him his own movie.

X-Men Origins: Magneto was a canceled plan to give the infamous character his own detailed origin story in the days when he was still known as Erik Lensherr. Before X-Men Origins: Wolverine was announced, there was a lot of discussion at then-20th Century Fox about the idea of making a Magneto movie. The plans went ahead far enough to include a script written by screenwriter Sheldon Turner (via Reddit). Eventually, after X-Men Origins: Magneto had a delayed start, the project was shelved and eventually confirmed as canceled in 2010. Magneto’s story was reworked into X-Men: First Class, which used many of the story beats from Turner’s script. First Class finally showed audiences the history between Erik Lensherr and Charles Xavier, including one of the most moving scenes from any Marvel character movie, famous for Professor X’s line: “True focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.”

Related: Logan: What Happened To Ian McKellen's Magneto?

The MCU has often tried to make its villains sympathetic (even at times when they arguably shouldn’t have), and Magneto is a villain whose name is often mentioned in lists of villains who actually had a good point. There have even been times when Magneto was right, even while he's still the villain. As such a complicated figure, Magneto is certain to make an impact on the MCU, and a solo movie could give time for a full exploration of his personality and his slide into villainhood.

While many of his actions are unambiguously malign, there have been times in the comics where Magneto has actually been a hero, and many people will point out that the more one knows about him, the harder it is to argue against his underlying cause. His main goal is to liberate mutants like him, even the X-Men, from oppression at the hands of human authorities who'd prefer if mutants didn't exist at all. The fact that Erik Lensherr is a Holocaust survivor adds a lot of weight to this narrative, giving him a deep understanding of the atrocities that humans are capable of. Consequently, a story dedicated to Magneto could explore some deep themes about how revenge doesn’t always bring justice, and the difference between true peace and simple inaction. While the MCU will never be a dark place, recent movies have started to add some much-needed complexity, fitting well with this kind of narrative.

Aside from the arguably Magneto-like characters of Loki and Thanos, the MCU isn’t known for villain protagonists, and MCU antagonists tend to have a low survival rate. DC movies, by contrast, aren’t afraid to give entire stories to villains, with movies like Joker, Birds of Prey, and The Suicide Squad focussing entirely on the bad guys and antiheroes. The MCU's paradigm may be shifting with its recent stories, however. The Loki series starts off with the version of Loki who escaped during Avengers: Endgame, following the events of The Avengers — arguably when he was at his most villainous in the MCU canon. Spider-Man: No Way Home gives its villains a level of respect rarely afforded in MCU movies. And Marvel has been open about the fact Thanos was the real protagonist of Avengers: Infinity War.

There’s still little more than rumor about how and when characters from the X-Men will reboot and enter the MCU. As the continuity and cast of characters in the MCU keep growing, adding a few morally complex, persistent antagonists into the mix will undoubtedly help the stories to stay fresh and interesting, breaking away from the more standard formulas of storytelling that have dominated the MCU to date. However he’s introduced, though, Magneto definitely deserves to be given the level of attention his character deserves.

Next: Phase 4 Must Fix The MCU's Problem With Jewish Representation

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