Here’s the thing about Cyclops:
He’s not the best. He’s got one superpower, it’s useful under very limited circumstances, and it doesn’t even work right.
He’s not the coolest. In fact, he’s definitively uncool—not even a boy scout so much as a well-meaning martinet. He’s really not even all that interesting.
He’s not good with people, including himself. He’s a dick a lot of the time, and he has the relative social grace of a geranium. He was basically raised in a paramilitary group; he literally has no idea how to function in the real world.
As a person, he’s kind of irreparably broken in ways that go way beyond the brain damage.
He has no illusions to the contrary.
He leads the X-Men—not because he has any illusions about his skills or likability, but because someone has to. He puts himself in the line of fire because that’s what being responsible for people means, and makes decisions that’ll get him hated because they’re decisions that have to be made. He fucks up and fucks up and fucks up, and apologizes, and rebuilds, and learns, and grits his teeth and dives back in to fuck up some more.
He does this in hopes of building a world that will, realistically, have no place for him; leading or working under people whose expectations for him are flat-out impossible to meet and who hold him accountable every time he fails to live up to them.
And he keeps doing it.
And doing it.
And doing it.
That’s why Cyclops is my favorite. Not because he’s cool. Not because he’s likable, or because he’s the boss, or because he’s even particularly sympathetic. Because he tries so. goddamn. hard.
(I will also admit that I’m writing this as a socially stunted former wunderkind with major trust and control issues who grew up in a pressure-cooker environment, married my childhood sweetheart, and now have a job that often hinges on my willingness to make unpopular calls. Identifying with Scott Summers is not a huge stretch for me; we take our metaphors where we can get ‘em.)
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