The two top teams in Marvel Comics are the Avengers and the X-Men. These two teams are very different, one a formerly government-sponsored super-team and the other a group of mutants who most humans fear or hate. These two teams do everything they can to protect the people of Earth, and humanity looks at them in two very different ways.
While both teams' rosters have changed a lot and they've had various leaders over the years, the two most iconic are Captain America and Cyclops. Cap was the first major hero to join The Avengers after they initially formed and has been a leader more often than not. Cyclops was the heir apparent to Professor X when it came to leading the X-Men and has been their most consistent leader. Here are some qualities that make Cyclops the best leader in Marvel Comics, along with some that make Captain America the best.
15 CYCLOPS: UNDERSTANDS HATE
While Captain America was late in admitting that he should have been more open with his beliefs that mutants should not be feared, Cyclops went almost his entire life knowing how the world treated them. With that said, Cyclops had worked hard for years to spread the dream of Professor X to protect humans even when they fear them.
However, this also plays into Cyclops' role as leader of the X-Men. He understands the hate that the world has for mutants, and he knows how to treat mutants when they come to work with him as their leader. Cyclops lived his life hated and feared and has that understanding with the men and women he leads.
14 CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENSE OF GOOD
With the exception of when he turned villainous thanks to Hydra's shenanigans and that business with The Ultimates, Captain America is arguably the purest character in Marvel Comics. He is good, and that plays into his leadership skills. At the end of Avengers Vs. X-Men, some heroes held grudges.
However, Captain America admitted after the fight that he failed in showing the world that mutants should not be feared. He set up a new Avengers team that mixed mutants and human heroes to show the world that all heroes should be treated equally.
13 CYCLOPS: KNOWS HOW TO BE A MARTYR
Unlike Captain America, who gave up in his fight with Iron Man in Civil War, Cyclops took another way out after the Avengers Vs. X-Men storyline. Despite believing that he was in the right, Cap knew that he could do more good if the fighting stopped, and he worked from within.
However, Cyclops took a different angle. Cyclops became a martyr and did it because he knew that being a martyr could lead young mutants into following him. Which approach is the 'right' one is subjective. However, mutants, who found themselves targeted by humans, needed a martyr, and Cyclops did what was necessary.
11 CAPTAIN AMERICA: HONORABLE
Captain America did one vital thing with The Avengers that Cyclops has forgotten how to do with the X-Men. He leads them in the right direction to do the honorable thing. His teams set out to stop villains, but they are more interested in saving people's lives.
In the movie The Avengers, Captain America spent as much time trying to save people's lives as he did fighting aliens. It is the same in the comic books. Cap even gave up and surrendered in Civil War when he saw how his actions affected ordinary people around them.
10 CYCLOPS: KNOWS WHEN TO CROSS LINES
There is a big difference between Captain America in the Marvel 616 and the Ultimate Marvel Universe. The Ultimate version of Captain America will kill anyone, and there is no line he won't cross. However, the 616 Captain America is one who does the honorable thing — even at the expense of his safety.
However, Cyclops is someone who has no problem crossing the line when he knows he needs to. Wolverine and Cyclops had one of their biggest fallouts when Cyclops convinced a young team member to kill several members of the Hellfire Club. It isn't clean, but sometimes excessive violence is necessary.
8 CAPTAIN AMERICA: TRUSTWORTHY
Cyclops is someone that few people can trust. The fact that Wolverine took Captain America's side in Civil War but then took the side of The Avengers in Avengers Vs. X-Men — despite being a mutant — shows people that those who know Cyclops the best know they can't trust him.
Over the years, Cyclops has found himself on the wrong side of his teammates. Storm, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Professor X, and more. If a leader crosses swords with the people they are supposed to lead too many times, they lose their ability to function in the role.
7 CYCLOPS: MINORITY LEADER
When Captain America takes the lead of a team, he is someone who respects everyone he leads. However, at the end of the day, Captain America is a your cookie-cutter 'hero.' Cyclops, meanwhile, knows that he is different.
Cyclops has never been a hero in the conventional sense of the word. He is a mutant who can only control his powers with his visor. He knows many mutants like him can't go out in public without humans calling them freaks. Cyclops is a minority leader of a team that the world fears and distrusts. He is one of them.
5 CAPTAIN AMERICA: FAITH IN HIS TEAM-MATES
Cyclops has often shown distrust in those around him. From Wolverine to Magneto, Cyclops knows that there are plenty of people who are willing to stab him in the back to get their way. That makes Cyclops a leader who is always somewhat wary of his own allies.
However, Captain America has complete faith in his team-mates. This is because Cap is a trustworthy leader that every member of his team respects and believes in. When you have the trust of your team-mates, you can also show great faith they will have your back as well.
4 CYCLOPS: UNDERSTANDS MODERN SOCIETY
Captain America became a hero in World War II. He was then frozen in ice and came out years later, joining The Avengers and becoming a leader over time. As the comics and movies alike have reminded us time and again over the years, he is a man out of time.
That is one thing that has always held Captain America back. He took too long to understand the mutant plight, but that is no surprise. The world that Cap came from was very different than the world of today. With that said, Cyclops grew up in today's world. He knows what today's world is all about. Cyclops can lead today's youth because he was one of them.
2 CAPTAIN AMERICA: A REAL SOLDIER
Cyclops joined the X-Men as a young child, and Professor X taught him how to be a superhero. He took Scott in and made him a leader. However, Captain America was a young man who wanted to be a hero but wasn't built for it. After receiving the Super Soldier Serum, that all changed and he became a formidable fighting machine.
Scott learned how to prepare for war, but Steve Rogers learned how to be a hero during an actual war. Steve initially became a hero when he learned to fight in the military. He is a soldier who worked his way up and knows how to fight and win a war.