There’s always some confusion about Magneto’s powers, how they work, and what he can accomplish with them. Sometimes, we see him fling around non-metallic objects, control Thor’s hammer or Captain America’s shield – and yet, when he faces pure, non-alloyed vibranium, he seems to be helpless against it. So, can Magneto control vibranium? Yes, he can, to a degree. Here’s how.
Does Magneto control metals?
To understand how Magneto’s powers work, you must first know what his powers actually are. The common misconception about Magneto’s powers is that he controls metals, whereas, in fact, he controls magnetism and electromagnetic fields.
Now, one of the main properties of nearly every metal is magnetism – ergo, Magneto can control them with absolute ease. But that doesn’t mean his powers are limited only to metals with magnetic properties.
You see, every object – including non-metallic objects – has its own electromagnetic field. Naturally, that electromagnetic field is weaker in non-metallic, non-magnetic objects. Magneto can still control that electromagnetic field, but the weaker the field is, the weaker his own manipulative powers on the object are.
Additionally, Earth has its own electromagnetic field that’s actually quite powerful. Should Magneto manipulate Earth’s electromagnetic field, he can essentially bend the laws of physics and even defy gravity. So, let’s say there’s a wooden crate on the floor.
Magneto can pick it up even though wood is not a metal. He can manipulate the object’s electromagnetic field, as well as Earth’s, to lift the object and toss it. Of course, it requires much more focus, precision, and energy to do so because he’s essentially controlling the force field around the object, not the object itself – but he can still do it.
This would mean that Magneto can also control vibranium even if it doesn’t have magnetic properties, right? Well, kind of.
Can Magneto control vibranium?
Vibranium is not Earth’s native metal. It is an alien metal with mystical, powerful properties that the people of Wakanda still study after decades – even centuries. At first, it doesn’t seem to have regular magnetic properties like almost every other metal. It’s shown in 1998’s ‘Black Panther #48’ when Magneto was essentially helpless against T’Challa’s vibranium suit.
It was vaguely explained why, but fans drew their own conclusions that T’Challa must’ve used advanced Wakandan technology to somehow disrupt Magneto’s powers. It would explain why Magneto could control Captain America’s vibranium shield countless times but couldn’t stop T’Challa in his tracks while he was running at Magneto full steam.
However, the gadget explanation, in my opinion, is irrelevant. The truth is, Magneto can’t control pure vibranium directly – at least not to a greater extent than he could a wooden crate we mentioned earlier. Vibranium, with all its mystical properties, doesn’t seem to be magnetic in its rawest form.
Magneto could control Captain America’s shield because it isn’t made out of pure vibranium – it’s a vibranium alloy, also known as Proto-Adamantium. It’s the first form of adamantium ever created in an experiment where the scientist fell asleep in the lab, and an unknown third catalyst, along with unidentified chemical resins, prompted the merging of steel and vibranium.
The experiment was never successfully replicated in the future despite the best efforts of the scientist – the Proto-Adamantium created was forged into a shield, and Cap’s shield is the only known object created out of this particular alloy.
Still, when Magneto wields the shield, he actually controls the steel within the alloy, not the vibranium itself. In fact, in some older, now-retconned versions of events, Magneto couldn’t even control Cap’s shield due to vibranium.
To cut the story short – yes, Magneto CAN control vibranium, but not like he can control other metals and magnetic objects. He can easily manipulate vibranium alloys with other metals, and he can have a limited form of pure vibranium manipulation and control by controlling the electromagnetic field in the atmosphere around the pure vibranium.
This may have changed in the comics over time – I mean, there were storylines where Magneto was so overpowered, he could literally control the iron atoms within a person’s blood, drain it out of them, and kill them on the spot – but canonically, he can neither do that nor control pure vibranium.
There’s yet another explanation why Magneto’s powers might not work on vibranium that well despite the fact that vibranium has metallic properties. You see, vibranium has powerful energy-absorbing qualities, as well as a vibrating nature of its individual particles.
Meaning it can likely absorb Magneto’s electromagnetic powers, preventing him from controlling the metal. Instead, the magnetic energy behind his power gets absorbed into the vibranium.
Can Magneto control adamantium?
Adamantium, on the other hand, is a different story. It’s known that adamantium might be even more durable than vibranium, minus the mystical properties. Proto-Adamantium is an alloy of steel and vibranium, but every other version of adamantium that was created does not contain vibranium.
Instead, it contains steel and other metals, chemicals, and compounds that make it so uniquely powerful and durable. Still, being an Earth-made metal, Magneto has no problem controlling adamantium, as he presented multiple times when he literally ripped it off of Wolverine’s skeleton.
Can Magneto control other alien metals?
Now, in the last subheading, I’ve mentioned the fact that vibranium is an alien metal (and we established that Magneto can’t control it in its pure form) while adamantium is an Earth-made metal (and Magneto controls it effortlessly). Does that mean Magneto’s powers are limited only to Earthly metals?
No, it does not. In fact, vibranium seems to be the only known metal in the Marvel Universe that Magneto couldn’t control with his magnetism manipulation. We’ve seen him control other alien metals – including uru – the metal rune from which Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, was created.
Magneto could redirect Mjolnir and even lift it off the ground with his powers, but naturally, he couldn’t wield it and gain the power of Thor because he wasn’t worth it.
Still, being able to weave such a mighty, heavy hammer through the air with such ease is a feat that not many heroes or villains could accomplish. What it does for us, though, is that it breaks the myth of Magneto being able to control only Earth-based metals.
The bottom line is he can control anything magnetic or anything surrounded by an electromagnetic field. If vibranium isn’t magnetic, Magneto can’t control it directly unless it’s surrounded by a powerful enough electromagnetic field or if it’s an alloy with another metal.
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