I’m not, by any means, an Iron Man detractor. Tony was never my favorite superhero, but I like the guy. I’ve written a few articles about him, and some of his comics rank high on my list – like Superior Iron Man. That being said, Avengers is no X-men. There’s just no way Tony’s Team can compete with Xavier’s ensemble in my heart.
X-men nails on all fronts: storylines with social importance, captivating characters, and more female superheroes than the average group. It’s everything I like wrapped in a pretty package. Hell, even the main villain is one of my favorite characters.
Magneto oozes charisma. Still, let’s be clear: I don’t condone Magneto’s methods. I’m not an advocate of mass murder. Yet, the guy has a point– humans are awful. This makes the conflict between him and Xavier beyond compelling. Well, that and the fact that the villain is one of the most powerful mutants in the Universe.
I just love Magneto.
So when I considered a Magneto vs. Iron Man scenario, it wasn’t even a debate for me. I was biased as hell – but with good motive. Yet, due to their actual fight in comics, I know this article will make angry Iron Man fans come running for me with torches in hand, asking for murder.
I hope you know I’m being a drama queen.
The point is – although I have a favorite – I can see both sides of the argument. So I’ll give my best to make this discussion as detailed as possible and offer a depth you guys have never seen. Not even in comics.
You might also be interested in: Iron Man vs Wolverine: A Test of Metals
My Bottom Line Up Front
Magneto and Iron Man have fought each other in the comics. But there were so many things going on at the time – like the Phoenix force – that the outcome is doubtful at best. Besides, an outrageous creative decision during the fight makes the combat almost ridiculous. I know comic books pull off crazy stunts and all, but sometimes too much is too much.
Key Differences Between Them
- Magneto is a mutant, whereas Iron Man is human.
- Magneto uses superpowers, whereas Iron Man uses technology.
- Magneto has average intelligence, whereas Iron Man has a genius IQ.
- The science behind Magneto’s powers offers more abilities to him, whereas the extent of Iron Man’s powers is what we’ve seen in the comics.
- Magneto is a villain, whereas Iron Man is a Superhero.
This time around, the contenders for the battle are from the same Universe, so we’ll take a different approach than usual. Instead of focusing on specific enemies they fought against, I will explore the science behind their powers.
I do this for two reasons.
First, Magneto and Iron Man already fought in the comics. We know how this fight went down, but it only showed a partial scope of possibilities. I’ll remedy that by analyzing the battle itself and other prospects that could have made the result different.
Second, the science behind these characters’ powers is crucial to understand the outcome. Understanding the theory of Magneto’s abilities and Iron Man’s technology opens up new ramifications that have yet to be discussed in comics.
- Characteristics: A master of the electromagnetic force and one of the most powerful mutants in the Universe.
- Main Advantage: His superpowers are almost unrivaled. He’s an Omega-level mutant – the highest classification of all.
- Weaknesses: His magnetic powers take a direct toll on his body. If Magneto is not in prime physical condition, the mutant can get the worst out of a fight.
- Weapons: He has no armor, as his powers are enough. But his helmet has a crucial ability: protect Magneto from mind-readers.
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Magneto debuted in X-men, issue 1.
Lee created the X-men to fight against bigotry and bring more diversity to comics. The writer also stated that one of his goals with the title was showing that everyone has good in them. This sheds light on Magneto’s personality. He’s a villain but not completely bad – which was a refreshing take at the time.
Xavier and Magneto are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but both have merit. Their personalities and views are also based on real-life political figures. Xavier’s peaceful approach is based on Martin Luther King Jr. In contrast, Magneto’s more radical philosophy is based on Malcolm X.
Magneto despises homo sapiens. But why?
Well, Magneto was a jew imprisoned in a concentration camp in Auschwitz. Born Max Eisenhardt, his family was executed during the war. This took a terrible emotional toll on him, but later Max found hope in Magda – the love of his life.
Max and Magda ran from the concentration camp, married, and had a daughter. Everything seemed perfect until Magneto’s powers manifested, causing people to fear the mutant and burn his home.
Magneto’s daughter was inside and died because of it. So the mutant lost control of his powers and killed everyone around him. Magda was frightened by his actions and ran away. In hopes of starting a new life, Magneto changes his name to Erik Magnus Lehnsherr.
Then he meets Charles, and the whole conflict of the X-men begins. Magneto and Xavier were allies at first, but Erik wanted to establish Mutant dominance, so they parted ways.
Powers and Abilities
- Control all forms of magnetism.
- Manipulate even the tiniest bit of metal.
- Blend metallic substances with non-metallic ones.
- Reinforce the metallic fibers of his armor.
- Create a magnetic force field.
- Shut down gravity around him on a small radius.
- Shoot rays and electromagnetic pulses.
- Create electricity rays.
- Generate and redirect light fields.
- Fly – as a result of electromagnetism.
- Sense Earth’s magnetic field.
- Resist telepathy.
Mutants are classified by different levels.
The first level to appear in comics was Omega in Uncanny X-men 207. The author briefly mentioned it, but we only got a full explanation of it during Grant Morrison’s run.
But before delving into it, here’s a disclaimer. You’ll find several classifications of mutant levels on fan forums and debates, but Marvel confirmed only three categories: Beta, Alpha, and Omega. I think they’re all you need to understand the topic – other said types could fall into the Beta umbrella.
Beta is any mutant whose powers can impact the world around them but not in a massive way. For instance, Beast has enhanced senses and abilities, but he can’t alter the structure of the world around him. The same goes for Wolverine – he has a healing factor, so his powers are more related to him than to the outside world. An Alpha is a mutant that has more impact on his environment. For instance, Cyclops is an Alpha because his concussive blast can cut mountains in half.
Lastly, Omega mutants are those whose power can alter the structure of the world. The variation, Beyond Omega, is the same concept but applied to the whole Universe.
Ice Man is at the Omega level because he can slow down the movement of matter to create cold – to do so, he’s altering the very nature of reality. The same goes for Storm and her weather powers. Franklin Richards – Susan Storm and Reed Richard’s son – can alter reality on a Universal scale, so he’s beyond Omega.
In recent years, Jonathan Hickman tweaked these classifications. He erased the Beyond Omega term and established Omega as the type of mutant with no foreseeable limits to their power. Magneto can manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum; since this alters the structure of reality, he’s an
So in practice, Magneto belongs to the highest level of mutant classification. This discussion establishes Magneto’s power magnitude and the general agreement that he is one of the most powerful mutants out there.
Comic book authors aren’t the only ones to agree Magneto is super powerful. Scientists are on board with this statement. According to science, the villain can do more than levitate and pull the iron out of people’s blood. But what’s the reasoning beyond that statement?
To get it, we need to learn how magnetism works.
Magnetism is a part of electromagnetism, one of the Universe’s four fundamental forces. This force binds magnetism and electricity. If you change an electric field, you create a magnetic field. Transforming a magnetic field induces an electric field. So Magneto has power over electricity too.
This, coupled with other properties related to magnetism, gives Magneto intense powers that not even the comics show. Nerdist’s Kyle Hill had great insights into what those powers could be, and I chose to explain my favorite possibilities here.
Light is electromagnetic radiation, which is basically all Magneto can control. So the mutant could bend light around him to become invisible.
Liquify metal enemies
When facing Wolverine or Colossus, Magneto could apply a magnetic field around them and induce an electric current to flow through his enemies and liquefy them. With such intense heat, the metal would melt in an instant.
Become a fusion reactor.
With a strong enough magnetic field, Magneto could use atoms to get so close that they would fuse and release a colossal amount of energy – stronger than an atomic bomb.
This is my favorite.
Everything that makes us results from a storm of electrical signals around the neutrons of our brains. Magnetic fields can alter electric signals, which means magnetic fields can change your mind. Research has shown that using magnetic fields allows scientists to control your limbs without your permission. The same stimuli can also turn off the parts of your brain that reason morally.
So Magneto can mind-control people at will.
Magneto has performed impressive feats that can help us understand the outcome of a battle between him and Iron Man. These are some of the best.
- Magneto has destroyed mountains and raised cities in an instant.
- He has thrown several objects out o orbit and controlled the magnetic field of other planets.
- He moved 37 satellites in Earth’s orbit at the same time from the Earth’s surface.
- He balanced a platform weighing two million pounds on top of a spire only one meter wide.
- He can create a magnetic shield that has blocked attacks from Cyclops and the Phoenix.
- He ripped the Adamantium out of Wolverine’s skeleton in the Fatal Attraction storyline. (That’s my favorite moment from the list, by the way).
- He has used the iron in people’s blood to cause paralysis, seizures, strokes, amnesia, and control movements.
- Characteristics: A genius billionaire who makes increasingly stronger and more powerful iron armors to defeat his enemies.
- Main Advantage: Iron Man’s genius IQ is his advantage against almost any foe. All his inventions and armors are a direct result of his intellect.
- Weaknesses: If you get the arc reactor out of Tony’s chest, he’s done.
- Weapons: There are too many to list here, but the repulsors are the main ones.
Iron Man Explained
Iron Man has become more powerful throughout the years due to improved armor. His genius intellect and obsessive nature keep Tony working on his inventions to perfection. This trait is what allowed him to reach fantastic results in life.
Tony Stark got into MIT at 15 and graduated with two Masters’s degrees at 19. After the death of his parents, he pushed Stark Industries forward by creating cutting-edge military technology.
Everything changed when Tony traveled to Vietnam to sell weapons. While there, he was captured by the war chief Wong-Chu, and forced to create deadly weapons. But Stark had a plan. He pretended to do what the guerilla leader wanted while he built armor to help him escape.
After seeing the harm his weapons could cause, Tony decided to change his ways and join the Avengers as a full-time superhero.
Powers and Abilities
Tony Stark has striking abilities.
- He has a genius intellect.
- He’s a master engineer and businessman.
- He’s a master tactician.
- He’s an expert in hand-to-hand combat.
The Iron Armor gives Tony the following powers and weapons:
- Superhuman Strength – Tony can lift 100 tons.
- Superhuman speed.
- Energy absorption and conversion.
- Repulsor Rays – plasma rays that harm enemies.
- Unibeam – a plasma ray coming from his chest.
- Smart Missiles.
Iron Man has shown incredible feats of intellect and strength, proving he’s a formidable foe. These are the best.
- Tony Stark put Reed Richards in check on multiple chess boards at the same time.
- He created Jarvis: an A. I am so advanced it has emotions.
- He built a time machine in Iron Man Vol 3, issue 59.
- He created Sol’s Hammer, a machine that harvested the sun’s energy to destroy natural satellites and planets.
- He defeated the Hulk and She-Hulk.
- He shattered the Phoenix Force.
- He made Sentry – one of the strongest beings in the Marvel Universe – bleed.
- He fought a Dark Celestial and lived to tell the story.
A significant part of Tony’s powers come from his Repulsors.
The Repulsors’ main job is to allow flight. But after some experimentation, Tony realized they could also be used as potent weapons. These weapons have different lethality levels. They can be used either in stun mode or kill mode. For more powerful explosions, Stark builds the unibeam – a version of repulsors on his chest plate that fires a colossal plasma beam.
The unibeam also brings along other powerful features that give Tony an edge in a battle situation, such as:
- A laser beam projector;
- An electromagnetic pulse generator that shuts down electronic devices within a 50-yard radius;
- A scanning device that moves through the energy waves the unibeam sends out;
- A holographic generator that helps communication changes the armor’s appearance and projects images to distract and confuse opponents.
Besides, Tony equipped the armor with pulse bolts as well. These plasma discharges are incredibly potent and strengthen as they approach their target. Other weapons include sonic generators and a laser torch embedded in Tony’s gauntlet finger. The armor’s surface can also produce an electric charge to repel attacks.
Tony Stark has built various Busters: suits created to defeat powerful enemies. For instance, Stark has built a Hulk-Buster, a Thor Buster, and Phoenix Buster. With both the armor he made to fight Thor and the Phoenix, Iron Man held himself against galactic forces. Such is his power.
Besides the busters, here are some of Iron Man’s most powerful suits.
Model 30 Extremis armor: The Extremis suit harnesses the power of an experimental virus called Extremis. It has enough strength to send Namor in the air and can fly from New York to Antarctica in 30 min – way faster than the speed of sound. This suit also survived a beating from Thor. It can record and analyze fighting styles, which is how Tony used beat Captain America in Civil War.
Model 37 Bleeding Edge: Tony installed a miniature power source in his body to upgrade the Extremis armor. The 37 Bleeding Edge is magnetic resistant and invulnerable to electromagnetic pulses. It can also generate EMP. This is critical information for our fight because it shows Ton can make his armor immune to Magneto’s powers.
Model 50 Endo-sym armor: The Endo-sym is a liquid suit that works the same way symbiotes like Venom do. It’s so strong it destroyed the Hulk-buster. The armor is super fast and can cover Tony’s body faster than bullets can hit him. Plus, it has anti-telepathy capacities.
Model 51 armor: Model 51 is one of the most recent Iron Man suits. It was strong enough to punch Captain Marvel and send her flying away. That’s massive, considering the heroine can smash apart gigantic meteors. Model 51 can hit Mach 1 at takeoff. Plus, its energy blast can match Captain Marvel’s, as we’ve seen in Civil War II.
Avengers vs. X-men
There were small vs. series in each issue during the main Avengers vs. X-men event. Each story is basically 8 pages packed with fan service. I’m not complaining – If it weren’t for this, I and other comic book super fans wouldn’t have seen some of the coolest battles ever.
The first fight is, guess what? Iron Man vs. Magneto. This takes place in the middle of issue 2. Here we have a man in a metal suit up against a guy who controls magnetism – It seemed this would be over in three seconds. But remember I told you Tony created an armor resistant to magnetism.
Well, he did that here.
But at first, Magneto doesn’t know that. He’s pretty sure he can beat the guy up. Not that I disagree. But the mutant was cocky, and he showed that with an over-dramatic speech.
Stark has many toys. Things so cutting edge I barely understand the ones he had five years ago, let alone now. His resources are without limit. All I have is a tarnished helmet and an old man’s heart; one forged in the fires of the warsaw guetto. For many years now, that has been enough to get me by. I expect today will be no different.”
You gotta love the energy Magneto brings. But Tony outsmarted him because, you know, he’s a genius. Stark made an armor out of carbon nanotubes. Yet, the mutant knows he can do so much more with his powers.
Magneto levitates a gigantic tower and throws it at Tony Stark. It’s a massive display of power – it’s as if Erik is shouting, “Stay down.” But Iron Man uses the anti-magnetism arsenal to get away. Magneto then creates an electromagnetic field. Iron Man’s repulsors are useless against the field.
They get into a stalemate.
Magneto can’t send an EMP to Tony because he’s holding the force field – and it probably wouldn’t work because Stark can create suits resistant to pulses. So they stay like that until Iron Man takes the most controversial move in the fight.
After Tony’s time with the Guardians of the Galaxy, he became an interplanetary hero. So he picked up on stuff throughout the galaxy that he could use in fights. Enter Jupiter’s satellites. Stark created a direct connection to them, so he could tap into the electromagnetic spectrum of Jupiter and redirect the energy into himself.
And so he does it.
Jupiter’s magnetic field is 10 times that of Earth, so now Tony has 10 times more energy than Magneto. Stark blasts the mutant, and they get into hand-to-hand combat for a second, but Erik gets distracted by a vision of the phoenix destroying an entire civilization.
So Iron Man gets the upper hand. The fight ends in defeat for Magneto.
This Result Doesn’t Make Any Sense
Let’s get the record straight.
Tony won in Avengers vs. X-men just because he had a load of preparation time. Tony’s main advantage is his genius IQ, and that’s best used before an actual fight. So, the first thing to establish is that Tony would never win without time to create a strategy for Magneto. No way around that.
It’s the same as when we talk about Batman fighting Superman. Both billionaires’ advantage is preparation time. Although I believe Batman has the edge over Iron Man. This may be controversial, but I think The Dark Knight has better reasoning in combat.
Tony is an inventor and better with technology, but Bruce takes the prize when it comes to outwitting enemies. There’s a reason that the trope is called Batman’s Gambit, after all.
Going back to the fight, had Magneto not been distracted by the Phoenix force, the mutant would have won. I have three main arguments for that.
First, Magneto has complete control over the electromagnetic field – and part of Iron Man’s “powers” come from that force. So naturally, Stark would be at Magneto’s mercy.
The repulsors – Tony’s primary weapons – work based on electromagnetism. So it would be a no-brainer for Magneto to tinker with that. The mutant could control the electromagnetic field around Tony in such a way that would make the billionaire’s weapons useless.
Second, Iron Man tapping into Jupiter’s electromagnetic field is ridiculous. I know comics are crazy, but enough is enough. Besides, even when we consider this so-called Jupiter force, it wasn’t enough to stop Magneto. The fight was still tied until the mutant got distracted.
Lastly, remember that Magneto can control people through the iron in their blood. We’ve seen him take iron out of people’s blood. That may sound far-fetched. But do you remember which idea is actually backed by science?
Magnetism can scramble people’s brains and make their bodies move unwantedly. At the end of the day, Tony is only human and wouldn’t be able to stop Magneto from controlling his brain with magnetism. Stark can make how many magnetic-resistant suits and anti-magnetic weaponry he wants. But he can’t remove all the iron in his blood without dying from severe anemia.
So, in my book, the result is clear.
Question: Can Magneto control Iron Man’s suit?
Answer: Usually, Magneto can control Iron Man’s suit. But Tony is bright, and he crafted a suit made of carbon nanites when he had to battle the mutant. As the armor wasn’t made of metal, Magneto couldn’t control it.
Question: What metal is Magneto’s helmet made of?
Answer: Magneto uses whatever metal is available to craft his helmet. The material is not essential, but how he uses the armor is. The mutant shapes the metal at the molecular level to ensure the helmet is resistant to telepathy.
Question: Can Magneto defeat Iron Man?
Answer: Yes, he can. Although Iron Man got the upper hand when they fought, I believe Magneto would beat the billionaire 9 out of 10 times. The one time the mutant lost could only be attributed to outside events like Magneto getting distracted or something.
Iron Man is a force to be reckoned with, but Magbneto’s superior powers give him a win 9 out of 10 times. No shame on Tony for losing, though– he still is a formidable hero. But Magneto’s powers could end almost any character. So this is a tough one.
If you got curious about his armor Tony’s different armor, you could check this article on his first suit: the Iron Mark 1. But if, instead, you want to see Iron Man content that’s a bit out of the box, check the alternate versions of the character in this article about the best versions of Iron Man.