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If Magneto's power is to manipulate magnetic fields, is he able to use this to control electronic equipment? Could he theoretically hack any computer?

If not, why not? Is his power limited to objects of significant size (i.e. he can't manipulate electrons directly)? Or is it speed limited (he can't change the magnetic fields fast enough to efficiently hack computers)?

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    He doesn't speak binary. He wouldn't be able to communicate with computers. Imagine you had a telepathic connection to spiders, it doesn't mean you know and understand Arachnid; how would you tell it what to do? He'd be better off learning how to hack, and use his super powers to remotely type really, really fast or by controlling each transistor's state (on/off); but he'd have to know the sequence accurately. Or just lift and hurl the computer into his opponent's face. – Möoz Sep 4 '15 at 5:35
  • Weirdly enough, he did manage to hack some sentinels in that movie about travelling through time to prevent whats-her-name from assassinating a guy. – user867 Sep 4 '15 at 6:12
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    @user867 He didn't hack them, he took the metal from the train thingys and slipped them into the sentinels' whatdya-call-its, so he could do the thing whenever he wanted to. – Nerrolken Sep 4 '15 at 13:38
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    @Mooz - He doesn't speak the language of binary vaporators? We don't need him on our moisture farm! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Sep 4 '15 at 16:09
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Magneto didn't "reprogram" the sentinels in X-Men: Days of Future Past, he merely wove metal in throughout their structure so he could control them. It was mechanical control, not software control.

However, we do know that he contributed to one notable computer, at least in the film universe:

He helped build Cerebro

Magneto was instrumental in creating Cerebro, as confirmed by Xavier, and we see in X2 that he is very skilled in quickly re-programming it as well, even decades later. Now, the reprogramming was very physical in nature (rearranging panels within the Cerebro sphere), but you don't get to work on a machine like that without having some understanding of how computers work.

magneto Who's got a cool helmet, a dashing cape, and at least a passing understanding of software design? This guy!

That being said, it's unlikely that Magneto can write software purely with his mind. From a real-world perspective, digital encryption is simply too complex for him to be able to process: even if he had the pen in his hand, he wouldn't know the language. In-universe, the two times we've seen him work with computers (the Sentinels and Cerebro), his "reprogramming" has come in the form of rearranging physical metals to create a desired effect.

From this we can deduce that, in order to influence a computer, Magneto must attempt a physical alteration, and not a software-based interface.

Now, he could probably wipe a computer pretty effectively, especially older magnetic-based computers and hard drives, but it's unlikely that he could write anything onto one.

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    Disagree. We see a Sentinel target a non-mutant in Days of Future Past, only giving up targetting when he turns into a mutant. I belive we see this from its HUD. – Dr R Dizzle Sep 4 '15 at 13:56
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    @DrRDizzle Share if you find a clip or a screenshot, but I only remember HUD shots of it identifying mutants, when Magneto says "do what you were made for" and sends them after Wolverine and Beast. I don't recall any HUD shots that would indicate actual reprogramming. – Nerrolken Sep 4 '15 at 13:59
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Maybe, but probably not in the way you described.

I only really know about the X-Men films, so this answer will be from those. We haven't really seen him have to interact with computers much over the 5 films he has been in, but we have seen him reprogram something.

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, we see Magneto reprogram some Sentinels in order to target non-mutants instead of mutants. He does this by manipulating metal and (presumably) adding to new connections to the circuits that make up the Sentinel's hardware.

Apparently, he is really, really good at understanding how the hardware of a Sentinel can affect it's programming, because somehow his plan works and the Sentinel is corrupted successfully.

It's probably worth mentioning that sticking a magnetic field in or around PC hardware is generally a bad idea. In real life, Magneto is more likely to break the PC than he is hack it.

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    On the X-Men wiki, it says Magneto has made his own computers and robots that operate on magnetic power; supports your argument that he understands how hardware affects programming – Often Right Sep 4 '15 at 10:15

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