Magneto's Helmet is a special form of headgear designed to protect the wearer from all forms of telepathy.
The helmet was constructed by Russian scientists in the early 1960's and given to Sebastian Shaw during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a gift for his allegiance to the Soviet Union. He specifically wore the helmet in order to prevent his brainwaves from being read by the telepaths, Charles Xavier and Emma Frost.
During the final showdown in Cuba, Magneto was able to remove the helmet from Shaw's head, which enabled Xavier to telepathically freeze Shaw.
After the battle, Magneto decided to keep the helmet for himself, as both a trophy from his victory over Shaw and as a safeguard against Xavier's telepathy. Afterward, Magneto personalized the helmet to his liking, recoloring the once dull black and silver headpiece to a vibrant metallic red with a regal purple trim. A horned embellishment was also added to the center of the helmet.
In Between X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past
Once in his possession, Magneto began to study the helmet's properties and components, continuously refining the design of the helmet in the process. Given what he had learned from the helmet's anti-telepathic properties, Magneto would use similar materials in the construction of his hideouts, making them relatively safe from telepathic interference and giving him the comfort of not having to constantly wear the helmet. He would also manage to wire several pieces of ordinary headwear, such as hats, with this material in order to be mentally impervious while operating incognito in public scenarios. This method, however, would prove to be not as effective as wearing the helmet itself. Based on his contributions to the construction of the X-Mansion's Cerebro, Magneto applied his knowledge of the machine towards further modifications of his helmet; strengthening it against even the most powerful telepathic attacks. By 1963, the helmet took on a much more rugged and weathered appearance. It's shimmering crimson color scheme had become a dulled maroon and it's texture now resembled stone rather than metal. The horned emblem had also been fused into the helmet, becoming a permanent part of it's design. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Magneto was subsequently apprehended for being found as a prime suspect. His helmet was then placed in a special vault next to his cell beneath the Pentagon, where it would remain housed behind thick glass, alongside other mutant paraphernalia. During an undisclosed period between 1973 and 1986, Magneto managed to escape, though his helmet would be left behind.
By the turn of the millennium, Magneto had constructed himself a series of perfected helmets that had been forged out of similar material to that of his original. Each of these were completely impervious to telepathic interference, and at least one was kept in each of his hideouts. The strength of these helmets was so vast that even Professor Xavier was befuddled and amazed by the extent of their resilience. One particularly streamlined version was constantly kept close to Magneto at his island lair, Genosha. This form fitting helmet retained the maroon color scheme of its predecessor, albeit with a brighter tone and once again incorporating a smooth finish. The ornamental horns were now more integral to the design of the helmet, becoming part of the overall frame of the "mouth". Magneto sported the helmet when he and the rest of The Brotherhood went to retrieve Rogue. As part of Magneto's plan to mutate the U.N. Leaders at a summit on Ellis Island, Mystique was tasked with infiltrating the X-Mansion and sabotaging Cerebro, which left Professor X in a catatonic state once he used it. With both Cerebro and Charles down, Magneto decided against wearing his helmet as he oversaw his plan atop the Statue of Liberty. The fate of this particular helmet remains unknown, though it may have been confiscated by the authorities once Magneto was apprehended.
After Magneto managed to escape from prison, he met with Mystique and the two fled to one of his nearby hideouts where he picked up a change of clothing and one of his helmets. This helmet, while essentially the same design of the one previously seen, bore some cosmetic changes reminiscent of the final design of his first helmet. Overall, this helmet was much rounder, bulkier, and featured additional superficial designs, most notably a trim around the "mouth". Throughout the course of events that led to the battle at Alkali Lake, Magneto constantly cradled the helmet in one arm, and at one point, commented that it was his last line of defense to John Allerdyce, who scoffed at its ridiculous design. Magneto finally donned the helmet when Professor X, under the control of Jason Stryker, began to telepathically target mutants. With the help of his helmet, Magneto was able to penetrate the "Dark Cerebro" and ultimately foil William Stryker's plan to exterminate mutants.
Sometime after the events of Alkali Lake, the helmet worn during the battle at Stryker's base was still being utilized as Magneto's primary helmet. After the revival of Jean Grey, now dubbing herself "The Phoenix", Magneto took to frequently wearing his helmet, not only as a shield against Xavier but also out of fear of the increasingly unstable Phoenix's telepathy. During the battle of Alcatraz, Magneto was hit by a "cure" dart and de-powered. With his beloved powers stripped from him, a grief-stricken Magneto discarded his helmet and ran towards the mainland, fleeing from the Phoenix's rampage. As with every other inanimate object surrounding the Phoenix's destructive tempest, Magneto's helmet was presumably disintegrated by her.
Not long after the battle on Alcatraz, the effects of the cure dart had slowly worn off and Magneto's powers returned to him. It was around this time that Charles had miraculously resurfaced from his presumed death at the hands of the Phoenix. Despite the status quo being seemingly returned to normal, Erik and Charles managed to settle their differences and unite to stop the growing threat of Trask Industries' Sentinel Program. As a show of good faith, Magneto no longer wore his signature helmet.
After being sprung from prison by Charles in 1973, Magneto later returns to the bowels of the Pentagon to retrieve his helmet. Magneto then wears the helmet during his assault on the White House. However, it is left behind after Mystique removes it from his head. What happened to it afterward is unknown.
Upon becoming one of Apocalypse's new Horsemen, Magneto was presented with a new helmet from his master, who used his transmutation powers to construct it out of the Egyptian sand. During the final fight at the Pyramid of Apocalypse, the mutant continuously wore it as he confronted the X-Men. This helmet introduces many elements that would be found on all of Magneto's subsequent helmets, including the sleek, matte finish. As with all of the other pieces of armor worn by the Horsemen, the helmet features Neo-Egyptian designs that are the signature aspects of Apocalypse's advanced technology.
- The notion of the helmet being able to withstand telepathic attacks was first introduced in the X-Men films. Prior to this, the comics merely portrayed Magneto as either having an incredibly strong mind, capable of deflecting telepathic interference or being able to utilize his powers to create an anti-telepathic magnetic force-field around his mind. After the release of the first film, the telepathy shielding aspect of the helmet was introduced into the mainstream comics.
- During the production of X-Men, the impetus for the look of Magneto's helmet was due to the fact that Bryan Singer believed that the helmet from the comics was nothing more than a glorified bucket and desired something more visually striking.
- During costume fittings, Ian McKellen was curious about the absence of the classic horns which appear on the helmet. Singer reassured him that the horns were still present but were now stylized as the swooping "V" shape on the helmet.
- The prop used during filming was actually two separate pieces that were fastened together by Velcro patches and magnetic snaps.
- The prequel comic, released as a tie-in for the first film, confirms the idea that Magneto is in possession of more than one helmet. Though the comic is considered non-canon, subsequent films have solidified this theory.
- Like all other redesigned costumes seen in the film, the design of the helmet received mixed reactions.
- While some believed that it was a good idea for the design to go a simpler and more realistic route, other die-hard comic fans resented the change and felt that the new design wasn't as dignified as the filmmakers had thought.
- Despite the helmet being an integral part of Magneto's character, it is only seen being worn for one scene in the first film. The reason behind this is that Ian McKellen found the helmet rather uncomfortable to wear, claiming it was too tight and hurt his head. For X2, the helmet was slightly redesigned with McKellen's previous gripes in mind. With the redesign, the costume designers found the opportunity to bring the design of the helmet even closer to its comic counterpart. As such, the purple outline that surrounds the facial opening, or "mouth", is now present on this revision.
- Fans would ultimately receive their desire for a more comic accurate helmet in X-Men: First Class. Michael Fassbender would later on admit that he felt a little embarrassed when having to wear the helmet.