It is not easy to like Cyclops as a character. It’s hard to be the stoic leader when you are part of a team filled with wacky and interesting characters, like Nightcrawler, Rogue, or Beast. It’s even harder when Wolverine is on the team, as he is Marvel’s 2nd most iconic character (after Spider-Man). Cyclops does not have the most interesting power or the most dynamic personality, but he is the heart and soul of the X-Men.
Those who dismiss Cyclops as “boring” are people who don’t get what X-Men is all about. It isn’t about flashy action sequences or battles between super powered heroes & villains. X-Men is a story about outcasts from society, who are drawn together to create a family of their own. The X-Men fight to protect the world that hates and fears them, in the hope that one day there can be peace between humans and mutants. While Professor Xavier created that dream, it is Cyclops who lives it, breathes it, and carries it into battle.
We are here today to take a closer look at the leader of the X-Men. From his questionable status as the first member of the team to the true extent of his powers.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Cyclops!
15. He Was The First Official Member Of The X-Men (Before All Of The Retcons)
In the first ever issue of The X-Men, it is established that Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel are all members of the team. Jean Grey becomes the newest member of the X-Men in that same issue. During this first appearance, Cyclops’ real name is stated as being Slim Summers; this was later changed to Scott Summers. As time went on, the exact order of the membership was established. Cyclops was the first, followed by Iceman, then Angel, and finally, Beast.
After his parents are kidnapped, Scott Summers is sent to live in an orphanage. He runs away at the age of sixteen after his powers start to develop randomly. During his time on the streets, he falls in with a fellow mutant named Jack O’ Diamonds, who tries to convince Summers to use his powers to commit crimes. It was at this point that Professor Xavier finally found Summers with Cerebro. After Summers defeats Jack O’ Diamonds, he becomes the first student to officially be enrolled at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. He takes on the code name of Cyclops to use in missions.
This was considered canon for a long time, but the details have changed on numerous occasions. It has since been established that Xavier worked with Jean Grey for years before she officially joined the team. There was also a mutant named Sage, who Xavier originally wanted to become a member of the first team of X-Men. She was sent away to infiltrate the Hellfire Club instead. Storm and Amelia Voght were also quasi-members of the team before it was formed.
14. His Genetics Are Awesome (Even Though His Powers Are Not)
At the end of the Mutant Massacre crossover event, it is revealed that a new villain named Mr Sinister was the real mastermind of the story. He formed a team of mutant mercenaries known as the Marauders and ordered them to wipe out the population of a society of mutants known as the Morlocks. Since then, Mr Sinister has become a recurring villain, especially in the ’90s X-Men cartoon. He is often regarded as one of the best X-Men villains and has appeared in many of their media adaptations.
It has been established that Mr Sinister’s goal involves creating the most powerful mutant of all time. To do this, he needs the genetic code of the Summers family. For some reason, this usually means he will kidnap Cyclops whenever he has the chance, in order to do experiments on him.
This is odd for many reasons. For one thing, Cyclops has two brothers (Havok and Vulcan) who are way more powerful than he is. There are also many other mutants out there that are more powerful than Cyclops. Professor Xavier, Magneto, Storm, Jean Grey, and Exodus, to name but a few. Why doesn’t he go after them instead?
13. He Was Overpowered During His Fighting Game Appearances
In 1994, the X-Men cartoon had made the team explode in popularity. They soon began to outstrip Spider-Man in popularity (at least until he got his own animated series). The X-Men comics became best sellers, as well as their merchandise.
It was around this time that fighting games ruled the arcades. Games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat were making lots of money, especially on the home consoles of the day. It was only a matter of time before someone made an X-Men fighting game.
Capcom were the company who were granted the licence from Marvel to make the game. X-Men: Children of the Atom was released in 1994. This was followed by many other fighting games that used the team, like X-Men vs. Street Fighter.
Despite his relative weakness in the comics, Cyclops is one of the most overpowered fighting game characters of all time. The fact that you could spam his optic blasts made him one of the most annoying foes in the game. He was the master of stopping an enemy approach, while dealing lots of chip damage. His hand to hand skills were also impressive, as well as his infinite combo in X-Men vs. Street Fighter.
12. He Has Possessed The Phoenix Force
One of the most famous X-Men storylines of all time is the Dark Phoenix Saga. Jean Grey was possessed by the Phoenix, a benevolent guardian of the universe. Due to the Phoenix being able to feel human emotions, it becomes susceptible to corruption. After the Hellfire Club attempts to manipulate Jean Grey into joining them, the Phoenix transforms into the evil Dark Phoenix. After the X-Men manage to help Jean Grey bring the Dark Phoenix under control, they are brought before the Shi’ar Empire. They must fight the Shi’ar Imperial Guard in a trial by combat, in order to save Jean Grey from execution.
The Phoenix has reappeared in numerous stories throughout the history of the X-Men. During the events of the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Iron Man attempts to destroy the Phoenix Force once and for all. He only manages to break it up into several pieces. It is then that five different members of the X-Men are granted the power of the Phoenix Force. Cyclops. Namor, Colossus, Emma Frost and Magik all become one with the Phoenix. They form a new team known as the Phoenix Five, who want to bring peace to the world. This storyline ends with Cyclops killing Professor Xavier and becoming the new Dark Phoenix.
11. His Dad Is A Deadbeat Space Pirate
When Scott Summers was a child, he was on a plane with his brother, mother and fighter pilot father. The plane’s instruments began going crazy, as they were being scanned by a vessel from the Shi’ar Empire. Scott’s father, Christopher Summers, placed the only undamaged parachute onto his two sons and pushed them out of the plane. It was believed that the two parents perished in the plane crash, leading to Scott and his brother being sent to an orphanage.
Christopher and his wife were taken prisoner by the Shi’ar Empire. He escaped imprisonment and tried to free his wife from the clutches of Emperor D’Ken. After his rescue attempt failed, D’Ken killed Christopher’s wife. Christopher was sent to the gladiator pits, where he was expected to fight until his death. He escaped with several other prisoners and formed a pirate crew known as the Starjammers.
Cyclops would eventually meet his father during the original Phoenix Saga. He did not learn the truth of their relationship until later. Christopher (now known as Corsair) didn’t want to explain why he never returned to Earth to find Scott and his brother, despite owning a spaceship.
10. Cyclops Was A Deadbeat Dad
When Jean Grey died during the Dark Phoenix Saga, the writers had intended for it to stick. Cyclops was distraught at the loss of the love of his life. Luckily for him, he soon met a woman who looked almost identical to Jean. Madelyne Pryor was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #168, where she shocked Cyclops, due to her resemblance to Jean Grey. The two soon hit it off, got married, and had a child, whom they named Nathan.
Madelyne Pryor became a recurring character in the X-Men comics. When Cyclops discovers that Jean Grey was alive the whole time, he ditches his family in Alaska and runs off to be with Jean. While Cyclops becomes the leader of X-Factor, Madelyne Pryor remains with the X-Men.
The writers tried to absolve Cyclops of any wrong-doing by turning Madelyne Pryor into the devil. It was established that she was a clone of Jean Grey created by Mr Sinister. Madelyne made a deal with agents of the demon Belasco and gained infernal powers (along with mutant abilities similar to those of Jean Grey). She became the Goblin Queen and was the villain of the Inferno storyline. In the end, Madelyne was killed. Cyclops finally took custody of his son… before sent him into the future to be cured of a disease.
9. His Death In The Movies Can Be Blamed On Superman
Cyclops has one of the most bizarre deaths in movie history. In X-Men: The Last Stand, Cyclops returns to the lake where Jean Grey perished. It is there that he sees Jean Grey, who is still alive. They have a tender reunion before Jean starts to lose control of her powers. The film then cuts away to something different. Later on, Wolverine and Storm arrive at the lake and find Cyclops’ glasses. At the end of the movie, we see his gravestone. So he died… apparently.
The reason for Cyclops having such limited screen time and an ambiguous death scene is due to another movie that was being developed at the same time. Bryan Singer left the X-Men franchise to direct Superman Returns, a film that was intended to continue the story of the Superman movies from the ’70s. James Marsden, the actor who played Cyclops, went with Singer. He was hired to play Richard White in Superman Returns. Marsden could only commit to a very limited shooting schedule for X-Men: The Last Stand. This was why his role was so small and why his death was so unclear. He was likely in the doghouse with Marvel/Fox for doing a film based on a DC property, but they still didn’t want to write him out completely in case they had plans for more X-Men movies down the line.
8. He Once Murdered Candra Of The Externals
Most superheroes have a hard rule about not killing foes. This is generally a good thing. Batman would have murdered all of his enemies within one issue, meaning we would not have had so many great stories over the years. Superman would win most of his fights within a fraction of a second. Spider-Man would have ended up in jail after the police found the corpses of the Sinister Six on the streets of Brooklyn, with J. Jonah Jameson gloating about how he was right all along.
Some superheroes are cool with murder. Wolverine was asked to join the New Avengers for no other reason than the fact that he would be willing to kill when necessary. The X-Men especially are fine with taking out a villain if the situation requires it. Colossus killed Riptide during the Mutant Massacre after he injured several members of the X-Men. Wolverine killed a young boy in the pages of Ultimate X-Men, due to his mutant ability accidentally wiping out an entire town.
During the ’90s, the X-Men faced a group of mutants known as Externals. Their mutant ability also granted them immortality. One of the Externals was named Candra. Like Voldemort, she was only immortal as long as a gem containing her life force was not destroyed. As soon as he got a clear shot, Cyclops destroyed her gem with one of his optic blasts. There was no trial or no imprisonment. She just got Summered!
7. He Destroyed Adamantium (In The Age Of Apocalypse)
One of the most popular X-Men storylines of all time is called The Age of Apocalypse. This was a separate reality that came into being during the events of a story called Legion Quest. Professor Xavier’s son, Legion, gained control of all of his multiple personalities (and the powers they possessed). In order to make his father’s dream come true, Legion travelled into the past, in an attempt to kill Magneto before he can condemn mutantkind with his actions. Legion’s plan fails when he accidentally kills Professor Xavier instead. This creates the Age of Apocalypse reality, where Apocalypse has taken over most of America, with Magneto leading the X-Men in rebellion against him.
The great thing about The Age of Apocalypse was that it gave the writers a chance to create new interpretations of old characters. Heroes became despicable villains. Former villains became the bastions of hope and righteousness in a darker world.
In this reality, Cyclops was taken in by Mr Sinister at a young age. He has risen high within the ranks of Apocalypse’s forces, though he is considered to be less wicked than the others. At the start of the series, Cyclops only has one eye. This is because he battled Wolverine at one point in the past. He managed to utterly destroy one of Wolverine’s hands (adamantium included), while Wolverine took out one of his eyes. It is possible that Mr Sinister experimented on Cyclops within this reality, which vastly increased his powers.
6. He Was Almost The Cousin Of Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon has many great projects to his name. He is considered to be the brains behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he co-wrote Toy Story and created both Firefly & Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Despite all of his extensive screen work, Whedon also enjoys writing comic books.
In 2008, Joss Whedon wrote a 24 issue series for Marvel, called Astonishing X-Men. He has since revealed some plans for this series that would have tied X-Men into the same universe as Buffy… but not in the way you would expect.
During a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Whedon revealed that he was going to include a scene where Cyclops talks about having a cousin who was in a mental hospital. The reason she was there was because she believed she was a Demon Hunter. Whedon ultimately decided not to include it.
It is a good thing that this connection was never established. There are enough “the whole series was made up by the main character” fan theories out there as it is. Whedon doesn’t need to stoke that fire. Also, why was Cyclops sent to an orphanage if he had other living relatives?
5. He Was Once A DJ
The second generation of X-Men is often considered to be the most famous lineup of the group. This was the period that introduced some of the most beloved X-Men characters (like Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm) and had some of the most iconic storylines (Days of Future Past, the Dark Phoenix Saga). Once the second generation of X-Men saved the day during the events of Giant-Size X-Men #1, the original team gave up being superheroes.
This was not the first time the original X-Men disbanded. In the early days of the comic, the FBI forced the X-Men to split up. Despite Angel incredibly wealthy, he didn’t bother to help his old team members out. The X-Men are forced to get day jobs. In The X-Men #48, Jean Grey becomes a bikini model. This makes sense from a few angles. She is a beautiful girl, with the telepathic ability to give her an edge over her competition. Jean was also made a model so that the pervy writers could get the artists to draw her in some fan service style outfits.
Jean Grey becoming a model at least made sense. At the same time, Cyclops also got a day job. The most straight-laced and boring member of the X-Men became… a DJ. Cyclops decides that his best contribution to the world is introducing Air Supply records, while making sure his glasses never fall off.
4. The Bloody End Of Ultimate Cyclops
Due to the success of the first X-Men and Spider-Man movies, Marvel decided to create a new line of comics. The so-called Ultimate comic line was intended to be a fresh start with the iconic characters, in order to entice new fans (who might be turned off by how the regular series were mired in years of continuity). The Ultimate comics started with X-men and Spider-Man. They were later joined by Ultimate versions of the Fantastic Four and The Avengers. The Ultimate series were popular for a long time and they held a few highly regarded crossovers.
Then Ultimatum happened. A series that is often regarded as one of the worst crossovers of all time. Magneto manages to wipe out most of the Ultimate heroes by creating huge tidal waves in the vicinity of New York City. He uses Madrox the Multiple Man as an army of suicide bombers to take care of the survivors. Lots of beloved characters suffer brutal and pointless deaths in Ultimatum.
The remaining heroes gather together and launch an assault on Magneto’s fortress. Cyclops ends up blowing off Magneto’s head with an optic blast. He then gives a speech about how mutants aren’t to be feared… and Quicksilver assassinates him. We get to see a bullet go right through Cyclops’ head.
3. The Source Of His Powers Was Retconned
When Cyclops was introduced, the source of his powers was clearly established within the pages of X-Men. His optic blasts were actually composed of solar energy. Cyclops needed to be out in the sunlight in order to charge up his powers. Moonlight could also do the trick, but it would take longer. If Cyclops was trapped on another world or in another dimension that did not have any sun, then his powers would eventually run out. His visor was also explained in the comics. His powers are held back by a substance known as ruby quartz. In order to open his visor, he can either press a button that is placed on it or use a button that is hidden within his glove. How much the visor is opened depends on how hard he pushes the button.
The solar power source was later retconned and handwaved away by writers. It was established that his eyes contain portals to another dimension, one that is filled with energy that does conform to the physics of our world. This was likely changed to shut up all the fans who complained about how the solar energy explanation made no sense. They were cool with a guy shooting energy beams from his eyes, so long as it makes scientific sense.
2. He Has Several Powers (Based Upon Training)
Even though superhero comics are generally filled with characters that possess super powers, there are many heroes to whom “extensive training” is considered a power. Batman, Black Widow and Hawkeye are just a few examples of people who became heroes through hard work and dedication.
Cyclops counts among these heroes, as most of his notable abilities were formed through training. While his optic blasts are powerful, they pale in comparison to the powers of other members of the X-Men. What makes Cyclops the leader of the team is his extensive combat experience and training. He has led the X-Men into battle on countless occasions and knows how to inspire bravery in his troops. He is considered to be one of the greatest leaders in all of Marvel Comics. The closest equal he has in terms of leadership ability is Captain America.
That is not all. Cyclops is considered to have an ability known as “Super Trigonometry”. Due to his training in the Danger Room, Cyclops has learnt how to perfectly reflect his optic blasts off of other surfaces. This is similar to how Captain America is a master of bouncing his shield off walls. Cyclops also possesses an uncommonly strong resistance to psychic attacks. This is due to him being in an intimate relationship with two psychic mutants (Jean Grey and Emma Frost).
1. He Has Beaten The Rest Of The X-Men By Himself
Comic book fans love to ask questions about who would in a hypothetical fight between two characters. The real answer is always “whoever the writer likes more”. This is because popular comic characters have won some of the incredibly unbalanced fights. The most famous of these is Spider-Man beating Firelord, who was one of the Heralds of Galactus at the time. Spider-Man did this by punching him repeatedly. Spider-Man also managed to kick the X-Men’s collective asses in the original Secret Wars series.
In Uncanny X-Men #127, Cyclops pulled off a similar victory, when he defeated Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Storm in a fight.
After the X-Men had lost a battle with Proteus, Cyclops noticed how shaken up the team was. In order to get them fired up, he starts a fight with them. He throws his coffee in Wolverine’s face in order to provoke him. Cyclops beats Wolverine with some judo throws. He then reflects an optic blast off of Colossus’ body into Wolverine’s back. Cyclops throws Wolverine into Nightcrawler, before hitting him with an optic blast as he tries to teleport away. Storm tries to interrupt, but Cyclops just destroys the ground beneath her feet with a blast, in order to throw her off balance and disrupt her powers.
While the battle wasn’t intended to be serious (at least on Cyclops’ part, as Wolverine really went for him with his claws), Cyclops proved that he had the skills to defeat the entire second generation of X-Men, if he wanted to.