Cyclops In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

With the X-Men in and out of theatres, Marvel quickly got them back on TV in order to capitalise on the success of the movie. X-Men: Children Of The Atom, as the show was originally going to be called ended up on Kids WB! which brought about a network mandate that the majority of the characters were to be turned into teenagers in order to make them more relatable for the audience the network was trying to reach. Obviously, this didn’t work for a lot of characters – I don’t think there’s any way you can make the likes of Xavier, Magneto and Wolverine into teenagers. Cyclops, on the other hand, started off as a teenager in the comics, so it wasn’t too hard to make the adjustment for him.

If you’ve read through any of my previous X-Men retrospectives, you’ll probably have noticed a certain formula to them. Pre-90’s stuff was usually all right, X-Men TAS was great, Evo was pretty good but nothing outstanding. Well, at long last we break this dreaded mould because X-Men: Evolution depiction of Cyclops is second to none. It’s better than TAS, it’s better than the movies and it’s better than the comics. You simply will not find a more entertaining version of Cyclops anywhere. He is the balls.

As the show’s central and most entertaining character, Cyclops got plenty of screen time. Season one isn’t good in the slightest but none of it is Scott’s fault – a lot of the characters were clichéd or annoying in the beginning but Scott was cool from day one. Kirby Morrow voiced Cyclops and does an outstanding job in the role – cool, heroic when he needs to be and sympathetic when the occasion calls for it, Morrow was probably the best cast in the entire show. Nice guy too, I interviewed him a while back. Class act.

Design wise, Cyclops is ace. I’ve always been fond of Steve’s Gordon’s designs on the show and Cyclops is one of my favourites. It’s an original take on his suit, meshing some of his more popular comic book costume together – I’d actually say it’s my favourite costume for Cyclops ever. When they announced that the X-Men were getting their costumes back in Astonishing X-Men, I was hoping they’d look towards this for inspiration, instead we got an updated take on his John Bryne costume that looks really, really dull. “We have to astonish them” he says. How do you expect to do that in a plain blue suit one ponders?

Cyclops is clearly the leader of the kids in the show – he’s not without his problems but you can tell he cares greatly for the people around him, probably because his own family was taken from him in a plane crash when he was just a little boy. (No silly space pirates here, Scott’s Mom and Dad are dead.) Despite being in the vast majority of the episodes, Scott’s moments in this below mediocre season are usually used to develop his feud with Avalanche. As Arsenal told you over in The Brotherhood retrospective, they didn’t become interesting until season two of the show – so this first season is mainly Scott getting over Lance time after time. It got tedious a few episodes in.

Things picked up for him (and everything else) in season two as he begins to make his move on Jean before he’s stopped dead in his tracks by her new jerk of a boyfriend, Duncan. As Jean’s powers begin to get the better of her Power Surge she begins to realise his feelings for her but she also doesn’t act upon it. The rest of the season sees the two of them failing to get together because of Duncan, their own nervousness and a new girl for Cyclops whose name I really can’t remember at this time. First No Prize of the thread goes to the person who tells me her name!

Adrift reunites him with his brother Alex again… and it’s really dull. Alex is quick to get on your nerves and there’s not really a lot you can do with a story when your two central characters are stuck in the sea unable to move. Things pick up for Scott in On Angel’s Wings as his would-be relationship with Rouge picks up and is made better than ever before. It’s sad to see everyone saying their goodbyes for the holidays to visit their families while Scott just stands there alone – he’s got nowhere to go in the morning, he’s simply waking up to a pretty much empty institute, just like Rogue the only one who actually thought to get Scott a gift. They then volunteer to go into New York to investigate a series of sightings of a possible mutant – could it be that there are angels among us? Scott and Rouge are developed further as they go shopping together and Scott believes there truly could be such a thing as an angel – he would like to believe there are such things looking out for all of us. He later learns that his angel is not the Heaven variety – he is a mutant, just like him. If you’ve been here before you’ll know I love this episode, it’s unquestionably the best one they ever did in my eyes. I’d go on further, but I think I’ll save that for an Angel retrospective.

Joyride gives us a very interesting take on Scott, one which I didn’t ever see in him before – the villain. Scott plays the hell to contradict Lance who moves into the Institute in order to be closer to Kitty and Scott is immediately distrusting of his bitter rival – it’s Scott who uses the same cheap shots he had previously belittled Lance with, including an amusing scene in which Scott makes a fool of Lance in the Danger Room for Kurt and his own amusement. Attempting to prove to himself that he is the bigger man, he tries to make amends before Lance refuses him and they go back to their rivalry. This episode was a real turning point for the Brotherhood – no longer generic whooping boys for the X-Men, now they had real depth to them.

I don’t think I have to explain the brilliance of the last three episodes of X-Men: Evolution to you – chances are if you’re reading this, you’re well aware that this is the point where the show started kicking ass. Mystique once again aligns herself with The Brotherhood and introduces super nutcase Wanda into their house and, at long last, they beat The X-Men! Unable to deal with the complex nature of her powers, The X-Men retreat, despite Scott almost being offended by the very suggestion of it. His walk of shame after defeat is a powerful image to set you up for the spectacular season finale.

With Professor Xavier unknowingly kidnapped (which I failed to notice, despite several hints of the same) and Mystique posing as him to introduce The Brotherhood as the newest members of The X-Men, Scott leaves – his ego has been bruised due to his defeat in the previous episode and now he realises he might be taking orders from the loser’s he’s been beating since he was a Freshman.

He later returns and learns that the Mansion is going to self destruct, with several of the students still inside. It’s not clear at which points he establishes that Mystique is actually posing as the Professor but it’s not important – it was designed to conclude the episode with the Mac daddy of all cliff-hangers.