12

Magneto has the ability to move steel, but can he move liquid or molten steel, so he can use it to burn buildings and humans?

7

Aqueous steel solutions, yes (as per XCU canon)

In X2: X-Men United, we see Mystique inject a solution containing a high concentration of iron into the buttocks of prison guard Laurio:

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Later, Magneto manipulates the iron in Laurio's bloodstream, with disastrous effects.

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By the same token, he should be able to manipulate aqueous solutions of steel, given the iron concentration in most instances of steel.

As for liquefied or molten steel, I can't find any examples in any canon, but perhaps someone else's knowledge of obscure Marvel facts is better. Based on out-of-universe reasoning alone, the answer would seem to be "no", via tuskiomi's nice answer.

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    I don't believe she injected him with liquid iron. – Valorum Jul 12 '16 at 7:52
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    @Valorum : MAGNETO: There's something different about you today, Mr. Laurio....Ah, there it is: too much iron in your blood. – Praxis Jul 12 '16 at 7:57
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    A liquid containing iron is not the same as liquid iron, leave alone molten iron. It could be an iron compound in solution or in suspension. Anyway, iron/steel becomes paramagnetic way below its melting point, requiring a higher magnetic flux to manipulate it. So in principle he should be able to move molten steel, if he can create a strong enough magnetic field. – kolrabi Jul 12 '16 at 8:05
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    @tardigrade : The OP himself asks about "liquid or molten". I've focused on liquid, not conflating the two. What's the issue? – Praxis Jul 12 '16 at 16:39
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    @tuskiomi : Sorry, but the original question asks about "liquid OR molten" and I'm answering about liquid. – Praxis Jul 12 '16 at 16:39
11

I would say, no.

Here's why:
I'm assuming that magneto operates on the fact that he can disturb the natural magnetic field in a given space. I'm also assuming that he can't do any other funky things (extraneous powers). Iron, in a solid state, will take on magnetic fields easily, because the electrons are easily manipulated and aligned based on the orientation. Molten Iron, however, cannot conduct magnetic fields, as the electrons now have much more energy, and as a result, are only affected slightly by magnetic fields. By slightly, I mean that the most powerful magnets here on earth couldn't manipulate the liquid. And magneto probably couldn't, either.

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    Your physics is 'real-world' correct but this answer would be stronger with an in-universe source. – tardigrade Jul 12 '16 at 15:47
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    Slightly is good enough for Magneto, I'd think. +1 for science! – Mazura Jul 12 '16 at 20:27
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    Interesting paradox, since it is molten iron that is responsible for the generation of the Earth's magnetic field, which allows us all to live. – PoloHoleSet Jul 13 '16 at 13:26
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    @AndrewMattson close, but it's actually moving the molten Iron that causes the field, and here is why. any time a charge is moving, there is a current, that is the definition of such. because the iron is very hot, it will ocasionally give up it's electrons, making the atom unbalanced. when a few of these start moving around, a magnetic field is formed in correspondance with the charges moving. – tuskiomi Jul 13 '16 at 14:06
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    I was aware of that, but the additional detail is useful for anyone who wasn't. – PoloHoleSet Jul 13 '16 at 15:19
2

By physics, Magneto should be unable to move iron that's above its Curie point (the temperature at which a phase transition renders the material non-magnetic). This transition takes place many hundreds of degrees below the melting point of iron. He should also be unable to move dissolved iron, which is ionized and hence lacks the electron properties to be ferromagnetic.

In comic canon, however, he has historically been able to move even the iron in the hemoglobin in his own blood (in order to levitate/fly), as well as things which ought to be non-magnetic (even metals other than iron and steel, never mind non-magnetic stainless alloys). Even in the movies, his encounter with Laurio defied physics; either the iron was dissolved, and hence non-magnetic, or it was a suspension of non-magnetic stainless steel (else it would have corroded to a red or black color before it could be injected).

With both comics and movies ignoring physics, then, there's no reason Magneto couldn't move molten iron. One could make a case that he's using induced current loops to provide the reaction, hence allowing him to move anything conductive (at the cost of a great energy expenditure and resistance heating from hysteresis losses).

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