The Fox-produced X-Men movies were a mixed bag, but if there was one thing they did very wrong, it was Cyclops. I for one dug James Marsden as the hero, but I can’t really remember him doing anything important. Well, that’s probably because he really didn’t do anything important, other than obsessing over Jean. Then the new X-Men movies came and we got a younger Cyclops in the form of Tye Sheridan. Was he any better? Actually no. He was a very moody teenager with a bad attitude and wasn’t very useful in fights.
Come to think of it, that’s exactly how James Marsden’s version was, and that’s why he was forgettable. Now I’m not saying Marsden and Sheridan were bad, far from it. I personally enjoyed Marsden as Cyclops, and I thought Sheridan had a lot of potential. The fault was in the bad character development both their versions suffered from. Now I get it, he can’t open his eyes without frying everything in his line of sight. If I had that power, I’d probably be a little moody too. Cyclops from the comics is a young man named Scott Summers. He is one of the original X-Men, can emit powerful optic blast, and always stumbled on the path of becoming the next Charles Xavier or the next Magneto. Yes, he was always a bit of a jerk, but like many other mutants, his life wasn’t all peaches and cream.
Cyclops lost his parents at an early age, leaving him alone to care for his younger brother, Alex. They were soon placed under the care of an orphanage, where the young Scott would first discover his powers. Unfortunately, his discovery also indirectly attracted the attention of some hostile humans, forcing him to run away. Scott was eventually found by Charles Xavier, the man who would become his teacher, leader, and father-figure. Xavier offered Scott a place at his school, gave him his iconic visor to help him control his optic blasts, and made him the field leader of the X-Men. Can any comic book character ask for a better mentor? Probably not, but not even Xavier could completely expunge the demons that haunted Scott’s memory.
Cyclops, to me, is similar to Batman in many ways. He’s a hero who lost his parents at an early age, and this trauma always stuck with him. Batman isn’t known for his social skills and often comes off as a bit of a jerk because of his trouble with connecting with people. It’s not that he’s totally unable to, but he is fearful of getting attached to someone, because he doesn’t want to lose another person he loves. This is exactly the kind of problem Cyclops deals with, socially and especially romantically. His first and ultimate love is the powerful telepathic mutant, Jean Grey. Now Jean was always the quiet type, but she was never a cruel person. Yeah, she has that whole issue with the Phoenix, but the real Jean Grey has always been a kind, compassionate person.
How could a girl like that end up with a uptight jerk like Cyclops? Just keep in mind what Jean’s primary powers: telepathy and telekinesis. One allows her to move objects with her mind while the other allows her to read other people’s minds and control them. Jean isn’t the type of person to control someone else’s mind unless she has to, but she will read their thoughts. Doing this allows her to fully discover who that person really is and find those hidden feelings they try so hard to bury. Scott is no different; he has social issues because he won’t allow himself to love anyone, despite how much he really wants to. The telepathic Jean was the perfect person to help him reveal what he truly felt deep down, including his love for her.
Cyclops and Jean Grey are one of the most iconic comic book couples for a reason. Their relationship is somewhat realistic, because it’s not perfect. In one odd storyline, he had a “telepathic affair” with Emma Frost, another powerful telepath, who disguised herself as Jean. Then there’s the popular love triangle that involves Wolverine, something the movies emphasized on. Wolverine made a habit of moving in on Jean, and she would sometimes reciprocate the feelings. Scott, of course, didn’t like that, which led to an on and off rivalry with Wolverine. Their relationship was always complicated, but Jean’s telepathy and compassion allowed Scott to express the feelings he tried so hard to suppress. Not only did this gain him a lover, but a living moral compass to help bring out the best in him.
Jean was always pivotal to Cyclops’ development; she heavily influenced how he behaved both on the field of battle and in civilian life. When she died, he chose to take a leave of absence from the X-Men, as he felt a part of himself died with her. When he returned to the role as leader of the X-Men, he slowly became more like Magneto. The events of Avengers vs. X-Men displayed this perfectly, as Cyclops’ rage clouded his reality. Without Jean to guide him, Scott allowed the Phoenix to influence his behavior and as a consequence, he killed Charles Xavier. In his misguided pursuit of mutant freedom, he ended up doing more harm than good, and he continued to lead his own faction of extremist mutants.
Out of all the heroes in Marvel, none have fallen from grace harder than Cyclops. However, one vital quality that can’t be taken from him is his effective leadership skills. He’s led the X-Men against their greatest foes, including Magneto, Juggernaut, and The Hellfire Club. There’s a reason why Charles Xavier had so much faith in him, but think about the current status of the MCU.
The main leader of the heroes was Captain America, who is now currently retired. Who is the best candidate to replace him? Will it be someone who already exist in the MCU, like Falcon or Captain Marvel? They have the chops, but personally, I think a new phase means a new face for leadership. Falcon is a good fighter, but as a leader, he has yet to have proven those skills. Captain Marvel is an ideal choice, but she spends more time in space than she does on Earth. How can she juggle leading Earth’s mightiest heroes and save the rest of the universe?
It’s a heavy burden to carry, so I vote letting the mutants get their shot. A young social introvert like Cyclops may sound like a strange choice at first, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for with his resolve and discipline. Like Cap, he’s got a no-nonsense attitude and a strong desire for freedom, making him the perfect guy to be his successor. What he needs, however, to be an effective leader is Jean. She can guide him, support him, and encourage him to be more socially adequate. Cap was a great leader because people got along with him and could talk to him. That will be a problem for Cyclops, but with Jean’s presence, he can slowly become a more lighthearted person. This will allow him to earn the respect of the other heroes and possibly become a better leader than Cap.
This is what I want to see in future MCU movies. I want a Cyclops done right. Yes, we can have that death of Jean Grey storyline again, but not right away. If Cyclops is going to fall from grace, he has to earn his respect first. The MCU version needs to be under pressure and needs to have big shoes to fill. If he can live up to such astronomical expectations, then he can finally be a character worth watching. Heck, he just might replace Wolverine for everyone’s favorite X-Man. Okay, maybe not, but anything’s possible.