The original X-Men member has been one of the main protagonists of the popular franchise since making his debut in the very first issue back in September 1963. Considered the team leader of the X-Men, Cyclops has been the main staple of the franchise, battling big-time villains such as Magneto and his romantic relationship with Jean Grey is also a focal point in the comics and television. There have been multiple versions of the popular character, with Cyclops even being a villain in some cases. Like a bunch of the X-Men, he’s a complex character, though arguably not on the level of a Rogue or Jean Grey. In the films, Scott is established as the leader in the first movie, and has a bit to do, though the focus is on Logan and Rogue. X2: X-Men United puts more attention to Scott and Jean’s relationship, and the jealously battle between Scott and Logan. Again, Cyclops isn’t the main focal point of the film as he’s just another member of the X-Squad. In Scott’s appearance in The Last Stand, the character is killed off pretty early thanks to the Phoenix Force. Despite Scott being an integral part of the Phoenix story, Fox and executives opted to kill Marsden’s character due to scheduling issues as he was also filming Superman Returns. Even before Cyclops’ off-screen murder, the Scott Summers character was heavily damaged at that point.
Wolverine became the star of the live-action X-Men films. That’s not particularly Cyclops’ fault as Logan was mostly treated as the star of the X-Men franchise. Unfortunately, most of the mutants had to take a back seat to Logan, Magneto, Charles Xavier, even Cyclops himself. It’s understandable that not every X-Men character is going to get some development. There are so many of them that the movies don’t have time to explore their history, but considering the fact that Cyclops is the leader of the group, it’s extremely disappointing that he never feels in command of any of the features. As I mentioned earlier, Cyclops doesn’t have the complexity that Rogue and Jean Grey have, but he still has a strong story that should’ve been the focal point of the first film. There are so many layers and directions that the filmmakers could’ve gone with Scott that it was frustrating to see him reduced to a petty rivalry with Logan and Jean’s lover boy, nothing less, nothing more.
Scott isn’t the only victim of little to no character development as Storm is also put to the side as she’s mainly there for reasons. Changes happen and the quick murder of Scott’s character in The Last Stand isn’t the issue. Is that film bad because they offed Scott’s character? No. If the filmmakers truly understood the story of Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix then it wouldn’t have resulted in a gigantic mess. Replacing Wolverine with Summers in his position wouldn’t have made the story better. Even if Cyclops death was meant to be a significant moment because Jean did it, the chemistry between Famke Janssen and James Marsden just wasn’t there. That’s more so due to the writing as the films never took time to truly establish their relationship. Sure, we knew that they were dating because they said a couple of “I love you’s”, but there was never that intimate moment where their relationship felt authentic and real. However, the biggest crime is that we never truly got to understand Scott Summers in the films. Who is the man behind the cool shades? What’s his goals? How did he become the leader of the X-Men? It felt as if the writers expected audiences to instantly know who Cyclops is and just accept him as the leader. Audiences gravitated to Logan because he was the most fleshed out character between him and most of the X-Men. It didn’t help that Summers didn’t exist in the first reboot of the X-Men trilogy. In some cases, it’s understandable that Fox wanted to focus on a new set of mutants, but since the story dives back into the tired Magneto/Charles Xavier frenemy feud, it could’ve been a great way to introduce Summers better and add some incredible depth that wasn’t present in the earlier films. Scott didn’t have to be the focal point. But he deserved better than the one-note guy that was present in the previous films. There’s so much story to tell within the X-Men universe that the live-action films have barely scratched the surfaced on any of the characters not named Wolverine. Let’s hope the next incarnation of Cyclops is actually shown some storyline love.