Near the beginning of the movie, in the Shaw's office scene, after Shaw shot Erik's mother, Erik got really mad and he killed the two soldiers and messed the room up.
Why didn't he attempt to kill Shaw at that point (with or without using his power)? Don't tell me at that time he already knew about Shaw's power. Shaw's power is to absorb energy such as incoming projectiles. So if someone shoots him, punch him, or try to blow him up with a grenade, he can absorb the energy. So at that point, if Erik tried telepathically sending the bell flying towards Shaw's head, he still can't kill him. But why doesn't Erik at least TRY to kill Shaw?
There are three possible explanations I can think of.
First possibility is that, at that point in time, Erik already knew about Shaw's power. And he knew that if he tried to kill him, he would just upset Shaw. So he chose to release his anger by killing the two soldiers and messing up the room. I think this is improbable, because his mother was just murdered by Shaw; I would imagine Erik would get so angry that all he wanted to do is to kill Shaw. Also, he made a conscious decision to kill the two soldiers. He turned around and squished their helmets. He was angry enough to kill people, why doesn't he kill Shaw?
Yes, Erik seemed to already know Shaw in the beginning, as he called him Doctor. So it doesn't seem like they were meeting for the first time. But does Erik really know Shaw well enough to know about his power? Did Shaw already tell Erik about his own power before this scene? This is the first possibility.
The second possibility is that at that point Erik cannot telepathically levitate objects well enough to launch an object at Shaw. Since it was probably his second time using his power, he didn't know how to levitate an object and launch it at a fast speed at a target. If you remember, the first thing he did was crushing the bell. Then he crushed the file cabinet. And then he crushed the soldiers' helmets. And then he levitated stuff in the other room and they flew in a circular motion like a storm. So it would seem that since Erik was such a beginner at controlling his power, he didn't know how to control his power to levitate an object and then shoot it at a target. At that point, he only knew how to crush things and make things fly around randomly. Therefore, since Shaw wasn't wearing a helmet and it didn't seem that he had anything magnetic on him, Erik knew he wasn't able to kill Shaw. My follow-up question is, then why doesn't Erik try to kill Shaw physically (without using his power)? I would imagine he would get so mad and start punching Shaw, or grab an object and hit Shaw with it. Maybe he knew Shaw is physically stronger? Maybe he knew Shaw has a pistol nearby? But at that point, Erik seemed so angry that he was willing to do anything, like risking his life to kill Shaw.
The third possibility is that Shaw has taken someone close to Erik as hostage. I don't think it's his father because Erik only said "I want to see my mama" in the beginning. He didn't say, "I want to see my parents." Maybe Shaw took another family member of Erik as hostage. I think this third possibility is the most unlikely.
I think the second possibility is the most likely.
Another question: by the time Erik was an adult he probably already knew about Shaw's power (or did he?). Then how come he tried to aboard Shaw's ship to try to kill Shaw with a knife? It seemed that Erik's plan was to kill Shaw only with a knife. This makes me think that Erik has no idea that Shaw has a power ever since Erik was a child.
To recap, my main question is: Why didn't Erik attempt to kill Shaw in the beginning scene in Shaw's office?