Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Cyclops is Amazing and No One Else Realizes It.

That’s right my favorite super hero is Cyclops, Marvel Comics original X-Man. See? My technique works. Right now I’m sure some of you are thinking,” Oh, Lord. This guy is some tasteless dick.” 
We’re not going to get into how true or not true that statement may be.
Instead I want to clarify that while I love the idea of the character, I love his powers and I love his personality…I hate how he is written. Compared to many of the X-Men’s more vibrant cast members a lot of people see Cyclops as kind of…bland. Some people loathe him, seeing him as the uptight, brown nosing hall monitor of the Xavier Institute. To me the problem is that this view is so pervasive that even the writers see the character this way. In their minds Scott is “the boring member” of the X-Men and so he is written to be boring (or uptight and douche).
            The version of Cyclops I like isn’t in the comic books, the movies or any of the tv adaptations. The cool, confident, ass kicking version of Cyclops seems to only exist in my head. He’s an image that I built from brief moments, inferences, at least one visit to the Cyclops character history page on Wikipedia and a whole lot of personal projection.
            That’s right, projection. I like the character because I see myself in him. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that I force parts of myself onto him

Uhh… in a…nonsexual kind of way. Naturally.

This kind of projection isn’t unusual in escapist or entertainment fiction like comics, novels, or movies. It’s pretty much a staple in any long running series with children or young adults intended as part of the audience (example: Harry Potter ). It exists to some extent in every action or romance movie you've seen and every video game you’ve ever played.
I was introduced to the character of Cyclops via the Saturday morning cartoon show X-Men: The Animated Series when I was just a young lad growing up in that totally awesome time period we call the 1990’s. Not only did Cyclops have the coolest powers in the entire show (he’s got LASER! EYES!), his character had an extra hook that resonated with me for some reason. Like many of the X-Men Cyclops’ powers had an unfortunate side effect that he could angst about. He couldn’t turn them off and had to wear a protective visor in order to suppress his abilities. Without these he could not risk interacting with others for fear of injuring them.
            So let’s just acknowledge the obvious and slightly embarrassing part here. Yes, as you can probably guess by the fact that I’m writing a blog about comic books…I wasn’t the most popular kid in high school. I could use the term Loner but I don’t like it because it makes it sound like I was all intense and brooding instead of the awkward and tightly wound nerd child that I really was.
He was like me but his powers also gave him a free out. Cyclops was isolated but it was because he wanted to protect people around him and not because he had shitty interpersonal skills. Basically I felt like Cyclops was me…but cooler.
            Of course, I’m not saying projection is the only reason we like or relate to a character. Sometimes we read or watch a character and there’s just something about them that we respect.
 I don’t feel as if I have anything in common with Indiana Jones but I like the character anyway. It probably has something to do with his excellent taste in hats.
Yeah.It's the hat.
Now it could just be because his powers aren’t all that much of a hindrance-

(“Oh No! I am doomed to wear a pair or really cool sunglasses forever. My life is ruined!!”)

-but there’s something I like about the fact that you almost never catch Cyclops complaining about his abilities. He’s a busy guy with a lot of responsibilities and he realizes that things could be worse. He’d rather spend time fixing the Black Bird or making the world safe for Mutant/Human coexistence than complain about something he can’t change. I respect that. It’s kind of a refreshing contrast when you’ve got a team as steeped in angst as the X-Men.

Both of my brothers watched X-Men: TAS at around the same time I did. My little brother, over bearing, melodramatic loudmouth that he is, instantly loved Wolverine and ran about the house slashing people with his fingers. My older brother's favorite was Gambit the suave, good humored ex-thief.
 I've always thought the way we identify and relate to fictional characters is interesting because I think it says a little about who we are. It’s a two way mirror that shows the things we like or respect in a person or what we wish we could be, 

 There is still a lot more I have to say but according to the Journalism and Media Communications introductory course I took my Freshman year: blog posts should be short and sweet. I don't want to scare any one off too soon. But rest assured I'll have another article up soon, this one describing what exactly it is I see in the character. Something I didn't get to yet.
So come back soon! 

I got the images of Cyclops and Indiana Jones from:


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