Could someone with a metal bullet hit Magneto when he is not expecting it?

In the movies, it looks like he has to concentrate on where the bullets are coming from which makes sense. More metal, more control; less metal, less control.

So if Magneto is in a heavy fight and not paying attention, could a sniper take him by surprise?

I know his power is magnetism but from wiki and other sources magnetism effects everything, even slightly. I mean even the earth has a magnetic pull so he must be very powerful.

  • If he can control magnetic fields directly, you'd think he could just create a powerful field around himself such that whether or not he knows they are coming, bullets stop before they hit him.
    – Paul
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 16:25

4 Answers 4



Magneto seems to be able to sense metal in his neighborhood - he could sense iron in prison guard blood, for example, and his powers work fast enough to stop bullets. Hence, it would be safe to assume that he can sense bullet flying in his direction and stop it.

Now, one more thing regarding "magnetism is in everything" - while it's technically true, Magneto cannot control diamagnetics - materials that oppose the applied magnetic field. We could see that he wasn't able to control plastic guns or glass/plastic in his prison.

  • But didn't Magneto already know the iron was in the guard? After all, it was Mystique who put it there...
    – Skooba
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 11:51
  • 2
    I don't think so, he seemed somewhat surprised to realize it. I doubt they would have let Mystique visit and tell him or anything, even with her powers they probably didn't let him have many visitors and they probably monitored what was said the entire time.
    – Probst
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 13:51
  • 1
    Surely this answer is "yes", not "probably not"
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 12:33

The best example of this I can recall, from the movies, is magneto describing

How he tried to save JFK from being assassinated

But he could only bend the bullets trajectory slightly.

Every other instance the movies I recall is off being shot at from the front.

As for the comics, this panel shows that on analysis his reaction speed is 1.4X that if a normal human.

Analysis of Magneto

Assuming a human's reaction time is between 0.1-0.2 seconds, with the most reliable numbers coming from here.

Let's assume the range of muzzle velocities is ~600m/s to 1500m/s gleaned from here.

That means there's closest a shooter could be is between 40m (fastest reaction, slowest gun) and 220m (slowest reaction, fastest gun)

So I'd say he had a good chance.

  • 1
    @he'd be able to detect the gun though, so I guess it's if he can feel the shape well enough to know it was a gun and be wary.
    – crobar
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:42

Movie Magneto is significantly underpowered, compared to comics Magneto. If you caught him completely unawares in the midst of something already taxing his concentration or abilities, I think he could be caught by a sniper. He demonstrated in First Class that he has awareness of the movements of metal objects from extreme ranges and that he can intercept bullets fired from as close as 10 feet or so when focused and mentally stable.

Comics Magneto controls the electromagnetic force, and has baseline reaction times that I think were described as at least an order of magnitude greater than ordinary humans. He also controls every other fundamental force, albeit with greater concentration required than with his innate connection to the e/m force. In practice, comics Magneto would essentially have to be drugged and beaten to within an inch of his life after having been sleep deprived for days while simultaneously contending with dozens of heavily armed attackers for someone to get a shot in that he wouldn't detect coming, particularly since comics Magneto can also sense the forces at work in the bodies of his attackers and even identify individuals by their unique energy signatures.

Comics Magneto is ridonkulously powerful.


In comic Magneto is able to hold Asteroid M in orbit, while on earth and not being able to see it, so I would imagine yes he can detect objects.

With bullets and stopping them, there is a lot of kinetic energy to overcome there but compared to the asteroid it's absolutely nothing. The problem here is the time he has to react; those bullets are travelling faster than sound and we have not seen his reaction time to be that quick

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