Monday Match-Ups: Gandalf vs. Magneto


The Setup

Ian McKellen is a wonderfully diverse actor. His most famous roles include Gandalf, and Magneto, radically different characters. One is a grey haired wizard with mystical powers, while the other is a grey haired mutant with mystical powers. But what if these two characters were to battle each other in the field of battle? And by field of battle of course we mean chess.

The Contenders


The Verdicts

Allen: There’s something inherently cerebral about a good game of chess. When both players are at the top of their game, and are able to predict each other’s moves several steps ahead, chess is incredible to watch. With two intellectual giants like Gandfalf (we’re assuming this is Gandalf the White right now) and The Brotherhood of Mutants’ leader Magneto, we need to decide how much their powers are allowed to interfere in the game. If it’s just a pure mental battle, Magneto has to take the win. I mean, the guy had to wear a metal helmet just to keep his thoughts from being psychically probed for info. You know there’s something special up there if that’s the case. Gandalf has the heart and soul, and he’s clearly a clever wizard, but chess isn’t about keeping your little hobbit friends alive in danger and defeating monsters. It’s a mental game, and nobody has the fortitude and mental alacrity that it takes to crush their opponent in chess like Max Eisenhart. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Wizard Dude! BROTHERHOOD FOR LIFE!

Magellan: You’d think that a match-up which takes two incredibly powerful beings (a wizard and a super-powered mutant) and puts them in a situation where their awesome abilities mean absolute jack would be boring. But, such is not the case when talking about a Monday Match-Up. After all, while both of these men have stunning powers that could destroy a mere man in seconds, they also are both extremely mentally capable, with Gandalf nicely falling into the role of the wizened wizard sage, and Magneto as a charismatic intellectual and crusader for minority rights. This is not a simple decision to make, as both men have their advantages and strategic know-how. Magneto, for sure, is a leader of men (or mutants, I suppose), and we’ve seen him play chess numerous times onscreen before, so we know that he’s skilled at the game itself. However, and this goes against all my mutant-loving, X-Men fanboy instincts, Gandalf’s encounter with Balrog shows that he knows how to make a well-timed sacrifice and come back much stronger. So, despite Magneto’s superior experience with the game, I think Gandalf is enough of a wildcard strategy-wise to tip the scales.

James: When it comes down to it, chess is a game about taking definitive actions. Every move must be carefully plan, and all options measured and weighed. Gandalf just doesn’t have the edge in this. Sure, he is a wise wizard, but while he is manipulative, he doesn’t plan very well. Magneto is a mutant who is well versed in manipulation, and his plans are only foiled by an entire team of mutants getting lucky. The man is a master tactician who clearly enjoys playing chess against one of the greatest telepaths on earth. So why does he still win? Simple.  Magneto is a super mutant who plays chess like a master.  And in any case, if he uses the metal chessboard that he did in X-Men : The Last Stand, he can just swap the pieces while Gandalf isn’t looking. He isn’t above that.  Dirty rotten mutants.

The Results

Magneto wins 2-1

In the epic game of the century, two fictional characters drew the crowd of the century. The stakes were high, but in the end only one wizened character remained. Now Ian McKellen can go back to doing what he does best: hanging out with Patrick Stewart.


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