Magneto is one of the most powerful mutants in Marvel Comics, sometimes working as an ally of the X-Men but usually being their arch-nemesis. He can control metal objects and magnetism in general, but there’s so much more to his powers than meets the eye. So, how can Magneto fly?
Magneto can fly in several ways. Some fans suggest he controls the metal in his armor, virtually carrying himself through the air. Sometimes, he uses metal objects, stands on them, and then controls them to fly. But, most frequently, he flies by controlling Earth’s electromagnetic fields.
You see, every celestial body, including our planet, has an electromagnetic field, causing gravity. Magneto can create an electromagnetic field in the opposite direction of Earth’s gravity, thus allowing himself to glide/fly in the desired direction. Let’s dive a bit deeper into that to see why Magneto is considered one of the most powerful Earth mutants ever.
How Can Magneto Fly?
As I’ve mentioned, Magneto’s powers allow him to achieve flight in several ways. Some exert more effort from him, while some are as simple as surfing. Let’s break down all the ways Magneto can fly and how his powers work.
Controlling Metal Objects
Controlling metal objects is the most obvious representation of Magneto’s powers. He can control any metal or magnetic object using his mutation at almost any speed or direction he desires.
It requires virtually no effort from Magneto, which is why we’ve seen him use a metal object to fly numerous times. For instance, in the X2 film, we’ve seen Max stand on a metal board and glide on it through the air. Of course, the movie version of Magneto isn’t the same as the comic book version, but you get the gist.
Controlling His Armor
We hardly ever see Magneto without his armor in the comics, especially when he’s flying. For that reason, many fans suggest that Magneto flies by simply controlling the metal in his armor. For instance, Magneto has metal plates on the soles of his shoes, around his breastplate, and in his helmet. By controlling the metal in his armor, he could fly without physical exertion.
While the theory generally makes sense and is very plausible, it was never really confirmed. Honestly, I think that having to control several separate pieces of his armor at the same time while fighting enemies or performing any other task, for that matter, wouldn’t be very effective.
It would be too difficult to control his body mid-air, maintain focus on each piece of metal in his costume, and still be able to fend off any incoming attack. Instead, the third theory about Magneto’s flight is the most plausible – and it has been confirmed countless times throughout the character’s comic book history.
Controlling Gravity/Earth’s Electromagnetic Fields
The ability to control metal objects is cool, but if that were the only thing Magneto could do, he obviously wouldn’t be one of the most powerful mutants ever. But that’s actually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the character’s powers. Magneto isn’t the master of metal objects – he’s the master of magnetism.
That means he can control any electromagnetic field, even create such fields himself. This power allows Magneto to control gravity – virtually allowing himself to fly.
In New Mutants Vol. 1 #35, Magneto teaches the young mutants some skills and shows how his awesome powers really work. He can create an electromagnetic field around himself, others, or any given object that has the opposite polarization from Earth’s gravity, allowing the person/object in question to defy gravity – hence flying.
That power is awesome because it negates all the problems with Magneto’s flying I’ve mentioned when we talked about the armor-controlling theory. By “negating” gravity, Magneto is simply gliding in space, not having to concentrate on controlling each part of his armor and body – his focus can be any other thing, like fighting enemies, for instance.
Also, creating a force field around himself is excellent protection from incoming attacks. Just look at the X-Men Vol. 1 #1 comic. Magneto’s electromagnetic fields are powerful enough to protect him from concentrated attacks as powerful as Cyclops’ beams – which are capable of sliding through a building like butter.
Finally, by creating a “reverse” electromagnetic field from Earth’s gravity, Magneto can lift and throw non-metallic objects that have no magnetic properties themselves, such as wooden crates, bricks, etc.
It also allows Magneto to lift incredibly large and heavy objects (like an entire submarine) without too much physical exertion. Virtually, he just puts the object in a non-gravity electromagnetic field and controls it by controlling the field around the object, not the object itself. That’s why the master of magnetism is one of the most powerful mutants ever.
Can Magneto Fly Without His Helmet?
So, there’s this widespread theory around the web that Magneto actually flies by using nothing else than his helmet. Fans suggest that his helmet is metal and so tight around his head that he simply controls the helmet, which then carries him around. So, can Magneto fly without his helmet?
Now that we know how Magneto’s powers actually work, the answer is obvious – yes, Magneto can fly without his helmet. I don’t even think he would ever consider flying by controlling his helmet and suspending himself to literally hang below it.
Even just standing still in the air, suspending your entire weight on your neck would probably cause severe sprains after a while. Any sudden movement and your body weight would snap your neck like a twig. So, no, Magneto doesn’t use his helmet to fly – but it has a much more important purpose for him.
You see, Magneto’s helmet is designed to protect the wearer from any kind of telepathic attacks. That’s incredibly useful for Magneto, seeing that his arch-nemesis – Professor X – is one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet. You rarely see Magneto without the helmet, not because it allows him to fly, but because it protects him from Xavier entering his mind.