Auschwitz concentration camp. January 1945.
Prisoners are being evacuated by their Nazi captors, to prevent the Russians getting their hands on them. Amidst the chaotic process, a woman flees with her young son Magnus and hides themselves under a mountain of corpses in order to be left behind.
Several days later, the Russians indeed arrive and one soldier finds them. Having kept herself alive by sheer willpower, the woman tells the soldier she will be with her husband soon and begs him to take care of her son. He promises that the boy will be looked after.
As the soldier takes the child from the crematorium in which he and his mother had been hiding, the boy struggles in the man’s arms, calling for his mother. He reaches out and the building suddenly explodes and collapses, falling onto the pile of corpses. The puzzled Russians wonder what happened, settling on a fuel leak as the only explanation.
Eastern Europe, years later:
Magnus has become a handsome young man and hard worker, laboring in construction. One day, he buys some flowers from a beautiful young woman and asks for her name. Magda, she tells him and praises his choice in flowers. He kneels down before her and reveals they are for her.
Four years later Magnus and Magda are married and have a daughter -Anya. Magda kisses Magnus goodbye as he goes to work, reminding him the landlord was asking about the rent… He’ll get it tonight, Magnus promises.
Later at work, though, his boss gives him less than half of the money Magnus was promised. He deducted his commission, the boss shrugs. Magnus has a family to support, hasn’t he? If he wants work, he’ll do things his way.
Inexplicably, a wrench next to Magnus suddenly rises into the air and embeds itself in the wall next to the man. Frightened, he gives Magnus all the money.
In the evening, Magnus walks home, sure nobody is going to believe the man. He’s a drunk, after all. Instead, he finds that the house he lives in is burning. A crowd has gathered outside. A panicked Magda tells him Anya is still inside. She just went out to the store for a moment!
Magnus intends to get inside but then the man from before hits him with a bat. Half stunned, Magnus hears his daughter crying for help while the mob hits him and accuses him of being a monster. As he cries NO, power erupts within him and pushes the men off him. He rises in a force bubble to the window, but it’s too late. The fire has already killed his daughter.
He takes her dead body, stares down at the crowd and clenches his fist. It glows with energy, the screaming starts and moment later of all those on the street only Magda is left alive.
He lands and tells her to let them lay their daughter to peace and leave this place. Horrified she asks what he is. A mutant, he explains, as Anya likely was, as any other children they have could be. Magda touches her stomach protectively, then runs away.
Left alone, Magnus buries his daughter by a tree in the woods. Speaking to her grave, he tells her that she was killed for what she was. It’s the way of the world. But, he vows, it will not always be.
France, a year later:
Magnus and a group of mutants break out of a jail. Armed and armored guards try to stop them, but the mutants manage to escape. They are picked up by the waiting van, driven by a young blonde.
Later, the van is stopped by the police. The cop checks the young woman’s papers: Susanna Dane, American exchange student. She’s far away from the university, he observes. She flirts with him, telling him that his country is so beautiful that she wants to see all of it. He reacts to her flattery, assuring her it’s she who makes it beautiful. He tells her to enjoy herself but beware of the young men today. There are some wolves among them.
Later, Susanna and Magnus are in bed together. The policeman was right, Susanna admits. He asks her not to joke. If he’d found she was hiding them…. She’s not a mutant. This isn’t her fight. As long as they are being killed and thrown into jail because of who they are, it is her fight, no different than the civil rights struggle back home, she insists. She wants a better future for them, for their child!
Does she mean…? he asks. She can see from the look on his face how he feels about it. Susanna recoils, she tells him she expects nothing from him. Her family has plenty of money. He tells her she doesn’t understand. It’s dangerous enough for her being with him, but a child! He begs her to go home. Get as far from him as possible.
And so Susanna leaves.
New York, the laboratory of Bolivar Trask, who informs a selected group of politicians and military that mutants breed like rabbits. Some scientists believe that, unchecked, they could replace humanity within generations! But given their deadly power, they are more likely to exterminate humans long before that, unless they take action and that is what he has created the means to do. He gives them… the Sentinels! A marvel of engineering, robots of immense size and powers, created with one purpose: to hunt mutants: to find them, to capture them and, when necessary, to kill them.
Egypt. A Sentinel kills two mutants of Magnus’ group. He manages to take off its head, but too late for his friends. Another being steps from the shadows. Impressive, the odd-looking man commends Magnus. But more will come. The United States is mass-producing them. Magnus warns him to stop and identify himself.
He is called many things. En Sabah Nur, Master, but most frequently Lord Apocalypse, and he? Call me Magneto, Magnus replies. Well said, Apocalypse remarks. He’s won the right to choose his own name, not some weak human epithet. Who is he to call anyone weak? Magneto demands. His words and appearance make it clear he is a mutant. Yet he did nothing to help them. But he did, comes the reply. He waited to see who among them was worthy to guide the future of mutantkind. Their deaths proved they were not.
They were his friends! Magneto shouts. Don’t be a fool! Apocalypse scoffs. There’s no room for maudlin Homo sapien sentiment in this war. But there is opportunity. The fires of conflict can forge a stronger mutantkind – winnowing out the weak, leaving only those fit to survive. Fit to rule.
Apocalypse asks Magnus to choose. Join him and guide the destiny of their people or cling to the past and become as extinct as the humans hope to make him. Very well. Magneto takes his hand.
Several months later in another mutant/human battle, one of the mutants, Shocker, intends to kill a helpless soldier who’s already down. Apocalypse watches as Magneto stops the mutant, warning him to stop that or join the soldier.
Later in the mutant camp, they have an argument about this. Apocalypse – Shocker at his side – states that every human they leave alive could kill one of them tomorrow. Banshee at his side, Magneto retorts that the soldier’s legs were shattered. He will not murder a helpless invalid. That’s the sort of brutality they condemn humans for practicing against them.
Apocalypse expresses disappointment in him. He shows an upsetting lack of commitment to their cause. With his control over metal, he is the best weapon they have against the Sentinels. Yet he refuses Apocalypse’s suggestion of a proactive strike.
Lord Apocalypse is right, Shocker shouts. Why haven’t they hit America? The factories that make these mutant-killing machines? What he proposes would spark a global war that would sweep up every mutant in its wake, Magneto replies. He’s seen how innocents suffer in such conflicts. They. Aren’t. Ready.
He means he ain’t ready! Shocker accuses him. He’s afraid! Enough, Apocalypse decides. He has battles to plan. If Magneto’s delicate sensibilities are offended by what they do, be gone. He won’t be missed.
Magneto turns away, but then suddenly refuses. He points at Apocalypse, ordering him to curb his brutal acts or step side and let their people choose a leader deserving of their loyalty.
A challenge? Apocalypse asks with a grin. Excellent. Magneto blasts him and the blast goes right through Apocalypse’s malleable body. A poor choice of battlefield, he comments as he blasts back.
Magneto protects himself with a magnetic field. Apocalypse hammers away a him, remarking there is no metal here. Magneto’s power is useless. What made him think he could stand against him? Magneto’s field collapses. One simple fact, he replies. Your mind is an electromagnetic field – and Magneto disrupts it. Apocalypse collapses in a puddle.
By his own Darwinian stands he has just proved his fitness to lead, Magneto observes. Don’t make him disperse his consciousness completely. They should be allies. He’ll be Magneto’s right hand. But never forget, any of them, that his word is law!
That moment, another mutant shouts Sentinels are coming. The mutants flee. Magneto rises into the air. Hide? Never again! They wanted to strike at the heart of the humans’ power? They wanted a war? Then let it be war!
He dismantles the Sentinels with but a gesture and lowers the helicopter. The men inside assure him they are noncombatants. Reporters, they are with the BBSC. He knows, Magneto replies. That’s why they are still alive. He has a message for the world. The cameraman films as Magneto begins his speech, addressing the humans. Mutants didn’t start this conflict. Humans hunted them. Humans killed them… tried to wipe mutants from the face of the Earth. They declared war on mutantkind. Today, mutantkind declares war on them!
In a Transian inn, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff watch the speech.
We will not run. We will not hide. We will stand up for ourselves and each other.
As does a young Lorna Dane in her California home, while levitating some objects.
Wherever mutants are harmed or oppressed, you will find us. Wherever the shadow of Sentinels darkens the ground, we will follow. If you are human, now is the time to rethink how you treat us, for your own sake. If you are a mutant, take heart. You are not alone.
As does a concerned-looking Charles Xavier, standing in his office.