Scott Summers, also known as Cyclops, is one of Marvel’s most popular characters, but he does not have the best reputation. His transition from Xavier’s prodigy to mutant revolutionary is filled with controversy. Scott used to be the X-Men’s brightest hero, student, and teacher, but his reputation has drastically changed. While many people are quick to judge his character, they overlook the traumatic events of his past. A combination of tragic deaths, mutant prejudice, and desperation transform Scott into the character we have seen in recent years. Unlike many other comic superheroes, Scott Summers reflects reality through both his good and his bad decisions. His character is formed through a series of events that would cripple anybody’s logical mind.

As a fan of the character, it was always easy for me to see through Scott’s poor decisions. However, Cyclops’ life is full of terrible choices that tarnish his image. It is impossible to overlook the horrible things Scott has done, but people forget about everything that he goes through early in his life. Scott Summers deserves empathy for the traumas of his past and the decisions he makes as a result. His actions, both good and bad, originate from his horrific past.

The Traumatic Origin of Scott Summers

Cyclops
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

As many fans know, Scott Summers’ story begins with the traumatic loss of his parents. While flying on a plane, the Summers family runs into a hostile Shi’ar aircraft. Scott and his brother, Alex, narrowly escape by sharing a parachute. However, to Scott’s knowledge, his parents are not as lucky. Although this event forces Scott’s mutant powers to awaken, it also traumatizes him. Losing one parent is a life-changing disaster that would cripple anybody’s spirit, and Scott loses both. In addition, he is separated from his brother shortly after losing his parents. Scott is completely alone.

Furthermore, Scott discovers that he is a mutant, a race hated by humanity. Growing up alone in the world is already hard enough, but that difficulty is amplified when surrounded by a society that hates you. Not long after discovering his mutant powers, Scott realizes the world’s prejudice towards mutants. Despite society’s hatred, Scott works to save humanity under Professor Xavier’s guidance. With no actual parents to turn to, Scott adopts Xavier as his father-figure. He fights through the adversity of losing his family and worldwide hate to save his race and make Xavier proud.

Scott’s early years as the leader of the X-Men are not all rainbows and sunshine. After falling madly in love with Jean Grey, Scott witnesses her death multiple times. Seeing the love of your life pass on once is difficult to even imagine, yet he experiences it on multiple occasions. As Scott’s story continues, there is a blatant theme of losing the people he loves most in the world.

Taking the High Road

Cyclops and Jean Grey
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Although Scott Summers experiences tragic loss throughout his life, he does his best to be the better man early in his superhero career. Scott follows Xavier’s example and does everything he can to make the world a better place for mutants. However, as he experiences more and more trauma, his perfect ideals begin to waver. There was a tremendous amount of pressure on Scott Summers from very early on in his life. When Xavier took him in, he made Scott the leader of the X-Men and put a lot of the mutant race’s weight on his back. For a while, he thrived despite all of the pressure that was resting on his shoulders, but that does not last.

During the events of the Dark Phoenix Saga, Scott bears witness to the love of his life’s corruption and eventual death. After Jean Grey is consumed by the Phoenix Force, Scott watches her battle for her humanity and eventually sacrifice herself to maintain it. This marks a major turning point in Scott’s story. From here on out, his decisions begin to diverge from the high road.

Scott’s decisions following the death of Jean Grey create controversy around the morality of his character. However, he has nobody to blame but himself for his controversial image. In this era of Scott’s life, we follow him through multiple relationships that tarnish his character. One such relationship is his marriage with an identical clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor. After falling in love with Madelyne and having a child with her, Scott quickly abandons them when he discovers Jean Grey’s revival. This is one of Scott’s lowest moments, as he leaves his wife to raise their child alone.

Scott Summers’ Fractured Loyalty

Scott Summers and Emma Frost
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Scott’s abandonment of Madelyne is not the last time he betrays a lover. Although he is finally able to reunite with his first love, he struggles to stay loyal. When he has the opportunity to cheat on Jean with Emma Frost, he takes it. To make the blatant betrayal of trust even worse, Scott either knew that Jean would find out (since she’s a telepath) or he was too stupid to realize she would. Once again, Scott Summers betrays the woman he loves to get with yet another telepathic mutant.

Scott’s disloyalty to his lovers stems from his traumatic origin. The events of his childhood most likely left him with some post-traumatic stress as well as survivor’s guilt. Symptoms of avoidance are a prevalent side-effect of PTSD. Although he fell in love with Madelyne Pryor and even had a child with her, his PTSD of losing his loved ones led him to seek an escape. Furthermore, these feelings of avoidance often lead to the victim seeking out high-risk sexual encounters, such as cheating. In Scott’s case, there is no higher risk than to cheat on a telepath.

Arguably, the most influential trauma of Scott’s childhood is losing his parents. Children often look to their parents for safety. When they don’t have a parent to provide that security, it can lead to deep self-doubt and uncertainty. These feelings of insecurity force the victim to seek validation, security, and self-worth elsewhere. Since they are not secure in themselves, they will struggle to handle the stress of long-term relationships. This leads to them seeking out an affair to cope with the pressure.

Scott sabotaged every long-term relationship that he experienced. While many are quick to label him as a disloyal prick, he is merely a victim of his past.

The Weight of the Mutant Race

Scott's Dark Phoenix
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Another traumatic experience that shapes Scott Summer is the persecution of the mutant race. Xavier groomed Scott to fight for the mutant race’s right to coexist with humanity by doing everything in their power to protect humans. However, after years of fighting for mutant rights under Xavier’s guidance, not much changed. Humans continued to mistreat mutants despite all of the good that the X-Men did. Therefore, it makes sense that Scott attempts to find a quick solution when he is presented with the opportunity.

In the events of AVENGERS VS. X-MEN, Scott and four other mutants are given the power of the Phoenix Force. After being consumed by the force, they immediately do everything they can to not only improve the world for mutants but mankind in general. However, the Phoenix Force has proven that it is impossible to control forever.

After three of the other mutants in the Phoenix Five are defeated, the power of the Phoenix Force is split between Scott and Emma Frost. As their power grows, their ability to fight corruption diminishes. When the Avengers and Professor Xavier corner Scott, he desperately clings to the power of the Phoenix Force to save his race. In his eyes, he finally achieved a solution to the problem he faced since first joining the X-Men. In his desperation, Scott betrays Emma and takes all of the Phoenix Force for himself.

However, the Phoenix Force consumes Scott and clouds his judgment. When Xavier confronts him and tries to put an end to the fight, Scott kills him. He murders the closest thing he ever had to a father. Once the Avengers and X-Men finally defeat Scott, relinquishing him from the Phoenix Force, he is left with the weight of his actions.

The Reality of Scott Summers’ Evolution

Scott Summers
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

There is no doubt that Scott Summers made terrible choices throughout his life. Some of which drastically shape his character. However, every decision stems from traumas he experienced. For example, after killing Xavier and facing the reality of his actions, he becomes a mutant extremist. His transition into a mutant revolutionary is another example of his experiences shaping his character. Scott’s failed attempt to save the mutant race in a flash of unimaginable power shows him that he cannot force change. Charles Xavier was a father to Scott, yet Scott murdered him in an attempt to quickly resolve the mutant race’s dilemma. Scott learns that there is no immediate resolution to the divide between humans and mutants, so he forms the mutant revolution as a last effort for change.

Despite all of the mistakes Scott Summers has made, he also achieved a lot of good. So much so, Magneto praises him for his achievements for the mutant race. Scott was responsible for creating Utopia, a haven for the mutant race. Furthermore, he gathers every mutant in one place at the climax of his mutant revolution to show the world that mutants can coexist peacefully.

Scott’s Realistic Progression

Scott Summers may not be the most morally sound character in the Marvel Universe, but he is one of the most realistic. Unlike many other characters, the tragedies that Scott experiences shape his character. I cannot imagine experiencing half of the horrors that he has. If I were him, I am sure that my loyalty and morality would be fractured too. Our actions are results of the hardships we experience and the lessons we learn throughout life. However, comic characters oftentimes remain unrealistically perfect despite the adversity they face. Cyclops strays from the standard superhero and reflects the realistic outcome of his traumatic past.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *