The media juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) had humble beginnings in a 1961 comic book created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby – the first issue of Fantastic Four.
The success of Fantastic Four would lay the groundwork for the Marvel Universe as we know it today.
Lee, Kirby and many others would build on this shared universe to establish the core concepts that have made the MCU a pop culture phenomenon over 50 years later.
As far as the comics are concerned, the Marvel Universe allowed talented creators to produces stories and characters that have stood the test of time.
One of my favourite character arcs involves the evil mutant known as Magneto. Introduced in Uncanny X-Men #1 (1963), the master of magnetism was very much a one-dimensional villain during his first decade of existence.
However, something critical happened to Magneto in 1972, specifically The Defenders #16. In a story written by Len Wein, Magneto – in his quest for world domination – had created Alpha, the Ultimate Mutant for his own devious ends.
However, his plan backfired when Alpha transformed Magneto into an infant (!) at the end of that confrontation with The Defenders.
Professor X puts the infant Magneto into the care of geneticist Dr. Moira MacTaggert at the Mutant Research Center on Muir Island. Of course, Magneto did not stay a baby for long.
Writer Chris Claremont brought Magneto back in Uncanny X-Men #104 (1977) to battle the new X-Men. Magneto is ‘re-grown’ into an adult – although younger than he was before!
This led to several encounters between the reborn Magneto and the new X-Men, before he faced yet another crisis in Uncanny X-Men #150 (1981). This time, it was one of conscience.
In his bid to execute his maniacal plan, he encountered the young Kitty Pryde. Magneto lashed out in rage as the novice X-Man resisted him and then believed he had killed her. (She’s not dead, of course)
This brought about a self-reflection on the part of Magneto. Definitely his rebirth had revealed Magneto not to be the one-dimensional villain we thought him to be.
Thus initiated the rehabilitation of Magneto. In Secret Wars #2 (1984) – the first major Marvel crossover event – we are privy to Magneto’s innermost thoughts as he began to change his opinions about humans beings.
Post the events of Secret Wars, Magneto retreated to his moon base, which was destroyed, leaving him in a less than satisfactory state and ultimately in the care of Lee Forrester (Cyclops ex-lover). See Uncanny X-Men #188 (1984).
After recovering from his injuries, a spate of anti-mutant attacks left Professor X incapacitated and Magneto joined the X-Men on a temporary basis. While on mission, in an unexpected turnaround, Magneto talked Rachel Summers down from killing a mutant-hating human!
Magneto’s redemption is complete when in Uncanny X-Men #200 (1985), he took over the X-Men from Professor X.
Believing he was dying (he did not, of course), Xavier asked Magneto to take over his place with the X-Men.
Magneto accepted and a new chapter in the lives of the X-Men (and Magneto) began!
A character arc that was inadvertently begun by one writer in 1972 was completed 13 years later by another – transforming a villain into a hero!
Without the structure of the Marvel Universe, this excellent characterisation would have been impossible! Make Mine Marvel!!
… still there’s more …