Magneto is one of the few hero/villains who has done things astronomical in proportion. I'm talking about things more incredible than lifting a 30,000 ton sub, such as creating a worm hole.

Yet, with all this "manipulation" of the Universe he never tires. He isn't seen absorbing huge quantities of energy so he can do all these things.

So where is he getting his power from and why doesn't he tire? Or is this an oversight of the writers/creators?

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    I believe the Insane Clown Posse are interested in how magnets work as well
    – Monty129
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 20:53
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    Magneto has been shown to tire. He was very noticeably weakened after using the machine that induces mutation. Also, why does creating a wormhole or manipulating anything have to make one tired? Magneto uses technology as well as his mutant abilities. He also uses his head. It's possible to get tired from pushing a car, but it's equally possible to move a building with a mere push of a button or level a city with a flip of a switch. This is a strange reason for calling "bull" on what's been written in the Marvel Universe. Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 0:52
  • A battery would eventually run out and require recharging, while an external source wouldn't run out but there would be overheating, wear and tear, or a breakdown of various parts. You couldn't, even as a mutant, continue doing any thing indefinitely.
    – Beach Bum
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 20:37
  • He gets his energy from the same place that Wolverine gets the matter and energy to regenerate.
    – KSmarts
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 18:24
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    If you didn't suspect something until now, you left real-world science behind a long time ago.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 6:04

4 Answers 4


When Magneto was originally created back in the 60's (alongside the X-Men), they gave but a brief description of his powers; the ambiguous Master of Magnetism. This would give one a good deal of leeway when it comes to concern of actual application. Magneto's abilities are astounding enough that the Government and a few others built quite a good deal of defensive measure just for Erik Lennsher, a few being plastic-and-porcelain Sentinels, a plastic prison, magnetic disrupters, nonreactive metals, to name a few. If you question is really about the few limitations and extreme abilities of Magneto, then yes, he is rather Godlike in his abilities and output.

But he isn't alone.

Erik Lensherr is an Omega Class Mutant, which is a designation of categories that rate the powers, output, and abilities of a neo-homo sapiens superior. While an Alpha is generally considered first tier in scope, the Omega designation is for Mutants that could quite literally kill the population of the planet, or deal enough devastation to cause so, regardless of circumstances or special instances. Phoenix (Jean Grey) is one such mutant, who is considerably more powerful, as she could conceivably drain a star, and possibly disrupt enough to destroy the galaxy under circumstantial conditions, thanks to the M'kran Crystal. Professor Charles Xavier and Scott Summers (Cyclops) are Alpha Class, which while still incredibly power, do not have the ability to do so under normal circumstances. Yes, Professor X could start a nuclear war with his telepathy, but his power itself could not do so; Magneto can affect the magneticsphere, which would increase solar radiation and genetic mutation. It is also wondered that he could slightly affect Earth's rotation, orbit, and position. Such a feat probably would kill him, but it might be under the scope of his powers.

When many superheroes were created, their powers were more or less limited to the Age they inhabited at the time. Superman and Green Lantern (the original one) had powers that were significantly lesser than they are today. The original Superman couldn't do a tenth of what he can today, specifically because a good many of his powers weren't even thought of or invented yet (such as lasers). The original Green Lantern couldn't affect wood with his ring (sonic screwdriver, anyone?). Nowadays, they're practically Godlike in what they can do, as are their enemies.

So, back to your question.

Several times in the comics (and I think once in the original animated series) Magneto has mentioned that his powers were failing (due to age) but to be revived by no less than the planet Earth itself. Magneto has been resurrected at least once because of such (sometime in the 90's) and if this is truth, then as long as he is within Earth's magneticsphere, it could be possible that his 'power' is boundless. Now Magneto has gotten tired many times, and has weakened as well from overuse, but generally he seems to be the Energizer battery. The only real limitation he seems to have is range; which has been inferred to be several miles (back when he owned an island in the late 70's) to hundreds of miles (when he owned Asteroid M).

I haven't kept up with Marvel in quite a while, but Magneto is a classical villain; goal-oriented, driven, sympathetic, but more than willing to step on toes. His dream of giving Mutants freedom and a place to enjoy it justifies his means of doing some, sometimes brutally. Yet despite his authoritative stance, he isn't an evil man, but I'd stay away from him if you got an electronic pacemaker if I were you (and you were a mutie-hatin' human).

  • @SSummer I like your response. I believe that too many sources have lead me to believe that Magneto is beyond "mutant" status and they have ranked him with the Silver Surfer or Galactus. I haven't seen enough "newer" issues of him to know that he has tired. My views are based on my collection from pre-1985 and recent movies.
    – Beach Bum
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 18:49
  • Actually, Alan Scott (the original GL) could technically only affect metals. However, they strengthened his abilities to the point where that flipped to he couldn't affect wood. A helpful limitation on an otherwise powerful character - he can always get knocked out with a baseball bat, a fireplace log, a big stick....
    – RDFozz
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 23:42
  • That’s what I gathered between Charles and Erik. They both want the same general thing: for Mutants to live care-free lives on Earth. They differ in HOW. Charles wants them to inter-mingle and live alongside normals. Erik wants them to DOMINATE or at least ISOLATE from the normals as the “next step of human evolution. We are the new mankind, so stay out of our way or die, you pathetic normal .” Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 3:31

Most depictions of metahumans of which Magneto just happens to be an exceptional specimen of, have no scientifically plausible explanation for how or why they are able to perform such outstanding feats of energy gathering, manipulation or creation with no discernable machinery or applicable technology.

  • Most metahumans defy known laws of physics, creating matter and energy seemingly from nothing, often without appreciable side effects such as waste heat or excess light as a byproduct. Superman for example flies without a clearly defined power source, no exhaust, no energy byproducts, and he emits no radiation of any kind (unless he wants to). This is a common trope of the comic industry and is generally accepted without question.

  • Magneto's powers were originally explained as a connection and use of the Earth's magnetosphere magnifying his magnetic powers making him capable of doing things most metas simply couldn't imagine, because his powers were augmented by using the much greater magnetic capabilities of the Earth. It made him a fine foil to the X-men making him capable of tackling the entire team single-handedly.

  • Yes, this was a stretch, but since most mutant abilities already stretch the realm of plausibility, his was no worse than anyone else's and the explanation of why he was so much more powerful seemed perfectly plausible. Later, they would add to his resume, the fact his powers developed later, which in mutantkind is a kind of super-booster, and that he was an Omega-Level mutant (the unofficial designation of a mutant with the potential to alter or destroy all life on Earth with the use of their mutant power).

Highly relevant StackExchange article: Is Magneto officially an Omega Level Mutant?

  • As for why he doesn't tire, it would depend on the writers. Early writers would have him experience fatigue if he fought against a team of metahumans or if he performed a feat of incredible magnetic legerdemaine such as when he turned the Earth's magnetic field into a buffer to reduce Charles Xavier's magnetic powers, or when he stripped the adamantium from Wolverine's skeleton. During the period when he was believed to be dead, his Joseph persona did not have anywhere near the range and power he has today.

But the easiest answer for you is that the Marvel editorial edict paints Magneto with a broad and Magnificent Bastard brush, making him one of the most powerful, relentless and infatigable enemies of the Marvel Universe. Getting tired is for lesser villains. (obligatory TVTropes warning!)

Also See Stack Article answers to:

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    Random mutations that give humans incredibly specific yet diverse superpowers rather than tumors and debilitating illness, I can believe--and likewise with telekinesis, godlike aliens, a hidden prehistoric tropical rainforest in Antarctica, and mystical deities like Cyttorak. But Magneto's unexplained power source? That's a bridge too far... Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 1:10
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    Hey, I didn't create Magneto or Marvel's mutants in general. I would do my best to have more cogent explanations of their powers if I were creating them... Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 1:12
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    @Thaddeus I like your response too. Very complete and covers a lot of information. I believe that the Superman gets his powers from our "yellow sun" but if you put him back on Krypton he is just a like a human (can bleed).
    – Beach Bum
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 18:54

Looking at Superman might be illustrative. With his solar powered energy derivation, what we're probably looking at is a rampantly efficient metabolic system, probably on a cellular level rather than a complete systemic level (hence regeneration after systemic death). And more than visible light, it probably runs off of the 'solar wind' and the amount of proton or neutron cast off from the sun's fusion (hence the differences in reaction under a yellow sun or a red sun due to differences in output ratios). So Superman is a hyperefficient solar battery (I can't take credit for that phrasing), using his human-like metabolic processes augmented by a secondary energy source.

I am going to postulate the same for Magneto (and the rest). With Magneto particularly, given his greater power when within the Earth's magnetosphere, it is very likely that he is either in some way absorbing electromagnetic energy at a constant rate, but able to release it with higher apparent efficiency upon concentration. And, much like like a single lightning strike contains about 6% of the energy the world needs in a year after a single strike (which seems like so much more energy when concentrated into appliances, etc.), Magneto could simply have access to such incredible amounts of energy due to the efficiency of his secondary (some may say primary) metabolism that he apparently has unlimited energy, but in actuality just needs so little of it to perform whatever task is at hand that it only seems unlimited (like taking a gulp out of the ocean instead of a sip).

And for the sake of completeness, this still allows people like him to starve, or get thirsty, or need to sleep. Your body creates vitamin D from sunlight - but a whole buttload of vitamin D doesn't compensate for the rest of the amino acids you needs, or for sleep, or for water. So just b/c a superhero has a hyperefficient metabolism in one regard doesn't mean that it compensates for the rest of his metabolism in any other way.


Perhaps he doesn’t generate the power within himself but controls and shapes the ambient electromagnetic fields that fill the universe, if this is the case he would never run down because he is directing not generating the energy. This would also make him inconceivably powerful considering that everything from microwaves through high energy gamma rays are all just electromagnetic fields of different wavelengths.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! Is there any evidence to suggest that this is the case?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 19:53
  • Not that I'm aware of but considering the energy required to do some of the things that he is capable of I don't see how his body could avoid being incinerated if the energy required was being channeled directly through him nor could he possibly consume the calories required to generate the power internally. I am of course assuming that the laws of thermodynamics and conservation apply to him?
    – John
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 4:36

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