If there is one aspect of the X-Men movie franchise that makes comics fans see red, it is the depiction of Cyclops (a.k.a. Scott Summers). Especially as played by James Marsden in first three films, he is a petulant, sniping, jealous, and ineffectual twerp, often used as a counterpoint to Hugh Jackman’s more dynamic and sympathetic Wolverine before being dispatched altogether soon into 2006’s The Last Stand.
Over at Comic Book Resources, Gary Smith has uncovered plenty of evidence directly from the pages of Marvel comics indicating that Cyclops has demonstrated some serious character flaws over the decades, both in his professional and personal life. At one point midway through the article, Smith says, “As a superhero he’s one of the best; as a man he’s often somewhat less so.” But by the end of the article, not even Cyclops’ reputation as a superhero remains intact. The painful truth is, Cyclops has been kind of a dick from the get-go; he’s just gotten worse over the years.
It should be pointed out that Cyclops is a founding member of the X-Men and that the entire franchise has largely coalesced around him in recent years, at least in the comics. But that doesn’t begin to excuse some of his terrible life decisions. From his debut in 1963, he was so eager to show off to Professor X, his surrogate father figure, that he attempted a demonstration of his powers that put his teammates at risk. He went on to be a terrible, neglectful husband and father, often sacrificing his family obligations in favor of his X-Men career. His relationship with Jean Grey has provided enough material to keep several couples’ therapists employed. Based on the evidence presented here, Cyclops’ life has been marked by an overabundance of ambition and a shortage of empathy. The schism that developed within the mutant community seemingly brought out the worst in Cyclops, but it’s possible that those tendencies were always present in him. It just took a crisis to unleash them.