EDITORIAL: Why Cyclops Should Not Be In X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The reason I do not think Cyclops should be in X-Men: Days of Future Past is very simple. Cyclops was portrayed miserably in the previous films, and there is no evidence to suggest he will be portrayed any differently in this upcoming movie.
Many fans have expressed a desire to see James Marsden reprise his role as Cyclops in X-Men: Days of Future Past. At this point in time, it appears that he will not appear in this film. I am here to argue that this is actually a blessing in disguise.
Let me back up a moment to clarify. The truth is, I love Cyclops, AKA Scott Summers. I think he is one of the greatest X-Men of all time, and probably the most important X-Man of all time. He is talented fighter, a great leader, and he has a fantastic superpower. In addition, has a fascinating duality that marks him as one of Marvel’s greatest heroes. He can be a confident, assertive leader, yet he is also filled with self-doubt, sometimes wondering if his extremely powerful force beam is a detriment to humanity, instead of a force for good.
Can you guess the catch? The entire preceding paragraph describes Cyclops from the comics books, not the movies. Cyclops was absolutely horrible in the X-Men trilogy, and to be perfectly honest, I cannot imagine why he would be any better if he was in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
What exactly was so terrible about Cyclops in the movies? To make it easier, I will analyze one movie at a time. In Bryan Singer’s original X-Men, Cyclops has his largest cinematic role. He is the field leader for the X-Men, he is dating Jean Grey, and Professor X describes him as one his earliest students (I will ignore the implications from X-Men: First Class that make the Professor appear to be a liar). However, all of these things seem superficial. He has very little screentime, and anytime he is on screen, he is usually talking to Wolverine, or talking about Wolverine. (The original film feels like it is actually a Wolverine movie, to be perfectly honest.)
Even though he is the leader, he does not seem particularly assertive, he gives very few orders.
However, I believe the real reason Cyclops is so ineffective in this movie is how little screentime he receives. You could argue that we do not know if he is actually a great leader filled with self-doubt, because he has very little character development. That is my main issue with Cyclops in the original X-Men, and I have the exact same problem with Storm. The difference is that Storm’s screen time and character development increases with each sequel, whereas Cyclops’ decreases.
In X-2: X-Men United, it feels like all of the X-Men get their fair share of screen time. Okay, perhaps Wolverine gets more than the rest of his teammates, but it no longer seems as though he is hogging the spotlight. The only exception is Cyclops, who has even less screen time than in the first film. In fact, his most significant moments in X-2 consist of him nearly killing his girlfriend, and then crying about her death.
His sorrow over Jean’s death is completely understandable, to show that level of grief and bitterness after the loss of a loved one is completely natural. But come on, is that really how we want to see this guy? Mourning and bitter? Is he destined to be remembered as nothing but Jean’s boyfriend?
The final insult was in X-Men: The Last Stand. As much as I hated Cyclops’ portrayal in the preceding movies, what they did to Cyclops was criminal. He died in the first half hour. He did not have a heroic death, he died while trying to kiss his girlfriend. I thought it was annoying when the only point of Scott’s character was to react to Jean’s death. You can imagine my annoyance when the only function he serves to the plot is to prove that the bad guy is dangerous.
Should you blame Bryan Singer for Cyclops miserable portrayal on film thus far? Perhaps, because although Singer did a great job with X-2, but he cannot direct Cyclops. He also directed Superman Returns, which had James Marsden in a major role. Scheduling conflicts are the reason Scott has such a reduced role in X-Men: The Last Stand. Not only did SInger direct the first two movies that ruined Cyclops, he is partially responsible for Cyclops horrible off-screen death.
You could argue that the writing is to blame. David Hayter, who wrote the screenplay for the original film, was also co-writer on the sequel. Perhaps he is responsible for the problems with Scott Summers. However, even though he did not write the screenplay, Bryan Singer is given partial credit for writing both films. As for Cyclops’ death, if Singer had not recruited Marsden in Superman Returns, he would not have died in that movie. Admittedly, it might be somewhat unfair to blame Singer for something that happened in a movie he did not work on.
Instead, you should blame Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn, who actually wrote the screenplay for X-Men: The Last Stand. I have heard that in the original screenplay, Cyclops was a major character, and played a much bigger part in the Dark Phoenix storyline. However, I really doubt this is true. Since I have not read this screenplay, the only evidence I have is what actually happens in the movie. The truth is, Scott’s death was just a lazy way to dispose of a terrible character. Why did the writers not just have Cyclops be incapacitated after his encounter with Dark Phoenix, and then revived at the end of the movie? That is still a terrible thing to do to one of the founding members of the X-Men, and is comparable to what happened to Rogue, but it is certainly better than making him a red shirt.
If you were wondering how this relates to X-Men: Days of Future Past, all you have to do is look at the director and writer of the upcoming film. Bryan Singer is directing, and Simon Kinberg is writing the screenplay. The same director who ruined Cyclops in the first two movies is returning, as is the writer who unceremoniously killed him off. Does that really sound like an environment where Cyclops can thrive?
Do me a favor and ignore the director and writer for a moment, and focus on the huge cast of characters. There are at least 20 characters in this movie, from two different timelines. There are twelve X-Men in the future (if you count Magneto and Professor X as X-Men), and from what we have heard, this movie will mainly focus on the past, with only 30% of the film taking place in the future. I thought part of the reason Cyclops received so little screentime in the previous movies was to make room for the many, many other characters. Can you imagine how little screentime he would receive if he was forced to share the screen with twelve other characters, and less than half of the film takes place in the timeline where he is present?
The bottom line is that Cyclops already died in X-Men: The Last Stand, and as much as I hate that as a creative decision, I think it would be best to leave him that way.
Like many X-Men fans, I would like to see a reboot to the X-Men franchise in the not so distant future, preferably by Marvel Studios. Hopefully, this reboot will be far more faithful to the comics. Going along with this fantasy, Cyclops will be a major character, and he will be far more like the person he was in the source material. This is the version of the character that I am waiting, hoping, and praying for. Any appearance by Cyclops in X-Men: Days of Future Past will be nothing but a dim, pathetic shadow of my dream version of the character.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!
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