From Boy Scout To Badass: The Evolution Of Cyclops

In the Marvel Universe, mutants have always had a tough time trying to survive. The X-Men act as the guardians of their kind, with several team members becoming well-known throughout the community. A lot of members on the team have gone through changes since their original appearance. Perhaps the character who has changed the most is team leader, Cyclops. Scott Summers started out as a boy who doubted his decisions and turned into a ruthless tactician who made the hard choices for his people. I’ve seen a lot of fans of the character dislike his change in personality. But I’d argue that he became the person he was meant to be and I’ll explain why.

Scott was one of the original five X-Men, attending Professor X’s school as a teenager. From a young age he had trouble controlling his powers and wore ruby quartz glasses to contain his eye beams. He proved to be a capable leader and was the exemplar of Charles Xavier’s dream. He fought harder than anyone to bring peace between mutants and humans, defying Magneto and leading the X-Men for years.

Cyclops’ love for Jean Grey is one of his most enduring traits. They married each other, but this was complicated by Xavier and Magneto’s transformation into the monstrous Onslaught. The villain is eventually defeated and Jean and Scott became co-headmasters of the school. Further problems occur when Apocalypse planned to steal the power of twelve mutants and the body of Nate Grey, Scott and Jean’s son from an alternate reality. To save Nate, Cyclops willingly merged with Apocalypse. Eventually, Scott was separated from Apocalypse, but he was never the same after.

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Over the next few years, Cyclops displayed a harder, militant approach to dealing with threats against mutants. He secretly tasked Wolverine with leading X-Force, a kill squad designed to neutralise foes. X-23 was a part of the team and it could be argued Cyclops used her as a tool to carry out his agenda. During another mission, Cyclops sent his son Cable and X-Force into the future to stop a Nimrod production line, knowing that there was a good chance they wouldn’t return. Although the team were successful, Cable died.

Scott’s change in tactics became reminiscent of Magneto. He was willing to do whatever it took to keep mutants safe, but he never went as far as to kill innocent humans. In my opinion, Cyclops saw that he needed to make the hard decisions to protect mutants because that’s what leaders do. He retained his compassion for people, but he hardened himself to be able to make a real difference.

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During the Avengers Vs X-Men arc, Cyclops became a host for The Phoenix and eventually killed Professor Xavier. To me, this was terrible writing and a disservice to both characters. No matter how aggressive Cyclops became in his approach, he’d never lose sight of his father figure’s dream.

Most recently, Cyclops was killed during the M-Pox outbreak that originated from the Inhumans. A younger, time-displaced version has taken his place in mainstream comics and I feel they are trying to reboot the character.

Cyclops’ evolution is believable because idealism can’t always be depended on for survival. He matured and developed his own philosophy on the best way to fight for mutant rights. I would argue he walked the line between Xavier’s compassion and Magneto’s pragmatism.

Author: thecomicvault

Short story writer, comic geek and cosplayer hailing from Manchester, England. Find my pop culture ramblings on The Comic Vault.

11 thoughts on “From Boy Scout To Badass: The Evolution Of Cyclops”

  1. Let’s also remember.:
    1 he’s powers never changed but he was able to understand his powers in was more in-depth than others. In turn lurning a variety of tricks like his rickochet shot.
    2 his mind became so strong that when all failed to stop the void iit was his mind that easily trapped it. All the MU failed at this till then including Xavier and white queen.
    3 he has fought bother wolverine and cap to a near stand still and came out the other side a hardened fighter I feel is worth note.
    4 has yet to abandon the dream or think it a false optimistic hope.

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  2. Cyclops’ character evolution is something that I am completely fascinated with. No matter what happens to him and how the world views him, he is simply the brooding loner turned reluctant leader who is nothing more than a simple human with an eye that can shoot concussive red nukes every time he opens it. With that said, one of the best parts about his character is that no matter what happens to him, he always changes and evolves. That is why, for every new era of the X-Men, he goes onto wear new outfit. Just by looking its designs and colours, you can tell that he is changing. By keeping certain elements like his skull cap, the pattern he wears the x mark, the colour of his costume, the different linings and patterns, the way the visor looks, etc. Each change he incorporates into his costume has its own explanation.
    From the day he joined the X-Men to the day he sacrificed himself to save his son from apocalypse, all of his costumes have lighter tone and incorporated the blue colour in it. However, since Eve of Destruction story arc, he adds black colour his costume and gives himself a darker and edgier look. This addition into his costume signifies his new cold, militant, hardened, ruthless and violent characteristics adding to his already stoic, lone, brooding, cold and calculating personality.
    After the eventual death of his wife Jean, he becomes more lonely, but chooses to stay with a team. In order to keep his mind focus on the tasks ahead, he decide to share his life with the second woman he truly cared for, Emma Frost aka the White Queen. With her help, Scott slowly gained some of his confidence and started to become more flexible and trusting. However, this trust does not goes to everyone in the school, but rather to his inner circle of friends and members who know him better.
    In order to create a more brighter look and have a positive idea surrounding the X-Men, he forces his teammates to wear costumes. One of the biggest changes since the Eve of Destruction is the lack of the skull cap attachment and the golden visor. As his new outfit, Cyclops dons a dark blue wet suit/ scuba suit with a skull-cap and prominent visor. As media friendly as it may look, the new silver-metallic visor and the lack of gold with dark elements in his costume represents his maturity and pragmatic views.
    While he was the ideal and passionate believer of Xavier’s dream and methods, Scott’s costume has large amount of gold/ yellow parts in it. However, as time progresses, this gold slowly fades away to the point of nothing more than being the gold lining accentuated the gloves, boots and shoulders, giving the uniform a style reminiscent of the classic X-Men uniforms. Thus, as of now, he still believes in the dream, but his approach and tactics toward it will be somewhat different.
    After the events of Utopia and the creation of Extinction Squad, his costume changes from dark blue wet suit to absolute black. As for the gold in his costume, it also changes as well. As of now, his new costume has no belts and the gold trim on this uniform also ran along the sides in parallel lines instead of converging into a V shape like it did on his last one; the trim now stopped mid-thigh and circled around the backs of his legs, and converged on the clasp on the left side of his chest, from which it splayed into three strands that wrapped around over his left shoulder.
    Additionally, this new attire has larger and longer gold cuffs instead of small and thin arm and ankle bands. The main reason for him to wear this is changed outfit is because it signifies that he is no longer Xavier’s students nor his devout follower. He is different and as of the day of decimation, he is no longer the leader of the superhero group of teachers from a school for weird kids. He is now in charge of all the surviving and living mutants in the world and the only thing that can do for them is to protect them and protect them until they find a way to restore resurrect and revitalise his population.
    In his costume, the complete absence of blue means that he is not only responsible for the X Men their students but for ever living mutant. Each of his actions can bring one step closer to their restoration or their extinction and every decisions he makes, means that he can no longer thing about finding a way to make the world accept the mutants. Because one wrong move means the end of every last mutant ever exist. So, in order to achieve that goal he must take whatever action means necessary and only hope that the end justifies their means. As for the increase in gold, means that the X-Men can “Hope”.
    Both literally and physically “Hope” came back in the right time they needed. So, to tell all his friends and foes in the world that the mutants finally got themselves and chance to come back and can be better than before, he adds more gold in his hands and leg cuffs. Thus revealing that he is more idealistic and passionate than ever. After moving to San Francisco and enduring many trials with the help of Beast’s X-Club, Wolverine’s X-Force and his own extinction squad life seemed more positive for Cyclops (except for the schism of course), as he was recognised for his effort in the creation of the mutant state within San Francisco and winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Then, everything changed when the Phoenix Force attacked.
    On its path back to earth, the flame bird hit Nova, one of the teenage superheroes to ever exist, and sent him crashing right in the middle of New York surrounded by Avengers. Once the Avengers are alerted, they sought the aid of Wolverine and with his team, they confronted the man. Prior to this event, Cyclops is involved in another incident where Cable tried to kill the Avengers, because they interfered with the Phoenix and thus the return of mutants are forever an idea.
    So, when the Avengers came with the purpose of retrieving Hope and take her into their custody, Scott knows where this would lead to. He knows how the Avengers roll. So he ensured that this will never happened. Then comes the Phoenix Force, only to be split into five pieces by Iron Man’s stupidity armour. Once the bird is split, one of it possessed Scott Summers. As the most powerful team on earth, Scott and his new team managed to not only give the mutants an Utopian society, but they also did everything in their efforts to make the world into a better paradise for everyone living.
    During this time, Scott’s outfit completely loses its gold, except his visor, as he is back to being the optimistic and idealistic person he once was. As the Phoenix, Scott has great control over his powers and with his new abilities, Scott and his teammates developed a superiority complex. This is what the Avengers exploited. With Spider man and the rest of the Avengers defeat one Phoenix after the other, Scott senses his powers growing stronger. Also, because the conflict has begun undoing all that he strive to achieve, He became desperate and realising that Hope has sided with the Avengers, he decides to take it upon himself to restart his race. So he stole the last fragment from Emma, only to lose control over its overwhelming power.
    This has completely changed Scott as a character. After losing the Phoenix, he was imprisoned and he returned to his brooding loner ways. He also begun acting more militant and violent as he is willing to do anything just like when he was possessed by the phoenix. During this time, his broken powers cannot be controlled by his visor. So he abandons it entirely with his old costume and wears a new one. This revolutionary dons a dark burgundy bodysuit trimmed with thick red lines in a glyph-like pattern. This red trim also encircled his neck, and he wore this uniform with a utility belt clasped with a red X. Finally, in a dramatic departure from his usual look, Cyclops dropped the conventional horizontally oriented ruby-quartz visor in flavor of an X-shaped visor that covers over his eyes.
    After his eventual death by terrigenesis and resurrection by a secret plot by his son involving the Phoenix, Scott returns to the pre Eve costume with the exception of his visor staying metallic silver. As this new Cyclops, he is more focused on redeeming himself and believes that everything that he did is wrong. Although many people like Captain America and Havok, agrees with this statement, lots of people in the world does not. After the return of every mutant who are trapped by his son (from a different reality), he once again changes his costume.
    This time, he wears his revolutionary outfit, replacing his burgundy bodysuit with a black one trimmed with the same glyph-like patterns, but blue in colour and a visor rather than the X Mark on his forehead. His new character seemed more positive, outspoken and idealistic. But his costume suggests that although he has returned back to being an X Man, he is a different man now. And as for the complete absence of the gold in his costume only means that he is finally moved on from everything he had ever been.

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