Scott Summers has come a long way since his beginnings as Xavier's golden boy. A prototypical leader, Scott was selected to lead the X-Men in the field. Building on his already extraordinary leadership talents, Cyclops became an exceptional tactician. For Avengers Vs. X-Men he was positioned opposite Steve Rogers as his tactical equivalent in the mutant world. This is a bold comparison given the tactical acumen of the Star-Spangled Avenger, making Scott all the more formidable. Scott also rallied his people together in the events following the monumental House of M, where the mutant population was reduced to less than two hundred worldwide. Dictators, anti-mutant extremists and ever-upgrading sentinels - Scott held the mutants together through it all, from their home on Utopia.
Unfortunately, what goes up must come back down and Scott's ascending star faltered. During Avengers Vs. X-Men the mutant leader got a taste of the full Phoenix Force, changing him forever. Believing he could create the perfect world for mutants, the absolute power absolutely corrupted the eldest Summers brother. He turned his back on Xavier's dream and even took the life of his former mentor in the final confrontation. The combined might of Nova, Scarlet Witch and Hope Summers removed the Phoenix from Scott, but did not remove his new ideals. On his journey, he proved several times why he was the rightful leader of the X-Men and why he was to be respected. We're going to take a look at the times Cyclops demanded that respect and displayed power worth following!
15 SELECTED TO BATTLE THANOS
During Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos was able to assemble the Infinity Stones and use their power. His aim was to impress Lady Death, the object of his affections. One of his actions included the infamous snap that wiped out half the life in the universe. Many heroes and cosmic entities came together to stop the Mad Titan, Cyclops among them.
Though the battle went famously bad for the heroes and Cyclops lost his life, it's very telling that he was one of the heroes chosen. A number of X-Men were left after the snap, but Cyclops was chosen alongside Wolverine to stand with some of the most powerful beings in existence. His attendance in the battle is a testament to his value and standing in the eyes of the cosmos.
14 BECAME THE PHOENIX
When the X-Men and the Avengers heard that the Phoenix was once again approaching Earth, friction began. Cyclops believed the rebirth aspect of the entity, in conjunction with Hope Summers, would spark a rejuvenation of the mutant race. The Avengers feared the destructive aspects of the entity, and tried to stop it, accidentally splitting it into five fragments.
The five fragments possessed five X-Men, though when each were defeated, the power returned to the remaining hosts until there was only Scott left. Drunk on the power afforded to him, Scott went overboard, inadvertently oppressing the Earth. He became near unstoppable, with only the combined might of Nova, Scarlet Witch and Hope Summers being able to stop him.
13 ELIMINATED AN ENTIRE TERRIGEN MIST CLOUD
Despite having limited resources owing to the fact that he was a fugitive leading a rogue faction of X-Men, Scott was very resourceful during Death Of X. For his final act, before M-Pox took him, Cyclops hatched a plan to remove the Terrigen mist that was lethal to mutant kind. Hallowed though the substance was to the Inhumans, Cyclops had to make a definitive statement.
Scott recruited a British mutant by the name of Alchemy and had him convert the mist into an inert substance. This claimed the life of Alchemy and removed the entire cloud, leaving only one on the planet. This willingness to throw away one mutants life to remove half of the problem was a telling display of Scott's fanaticism and his power to convince others of his cause.
12 DEEMED THE PERFECT SPECIMEN BY MR. SINISTER
A brilliant geneticist, though entirely corrupt, the not-so-subtly named Mr. Sinister is obsessed with Scott Summers. His affinity for perfect specimens not only inspired his own work but also led to the rise of the High Evolutionary. Through his studies, Mr. Sinister has never had a specimen as perfect as Scott to experiment on.
He's tried to clone both Cyclops and Jean Grey and succeeded in several iterations. He does prefer Scott, though, having made more iterations of Scott than Jean. For all his experience in experimenting on lifeforms across the world, Scott is his muse. This speaks to Scott's genetic prowess, though being perfect genetic raw material is hardly a flattering thing to hear from a villain!
11 CHOSEN FOR MR. FANTASTIC'S LIFE RAFT
When the multiverse was collapsing in Secret Wars, Mr. Fantastic was fighting a losing battle. Both he and the Illuminati had failed to save Earth, so instead, he took it upon himself to build a life raft. This was a vessel that could traverse the space between universes, existing outside of it and able to survive.
Unfortunately, spaces were limited, so only a select few made the cut. Being coldly logical, Richards selected only the most important and pivotal people to take on board. He selected Cyclops as a means to lead the mutant population in whatever new world they could build. This not only showed his crucial role in the multiverse, but positioned him as the topmost mutant, even if it was only for a brief period.
10 RALLIED MUTANTS DURING DARK REIGN
Following the events of House Of M, the mutant population was reduced greatly. The Scarlet Witch ensured that the future of the mutant race would be in more jeopardy than it had ever been in previously. Luckily for the remaining mutants, Scott Summers of the X-Men was there to rally them.
Consolidating all of their remaining power to Utopia, Scott orchestrated a perfect fortification for his people. When Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers came knocking, the X-Men put them down with the direction of Cyclops. He even set in motion events that would allow a de-powered Dani Moonstar to become an Asgardian Valkyrie.
9 WINNING THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM
While the reduced mutant population came together in San Francisco to help one another survive, they were subjected to a lot. Attacked by Norman Osborn while he controlled the US, besieged by anti-mutant groups and even attacked by techno-zombies, mutants were put through the ringer.
One of the biggest threats was the coming together of several enemies under the banner of Bastion and his sentinels. They sought to eliminate Hope Summers and snuff out the resurgence of mutants. Scott's tactical acumen allowed him to not only get his people through the crisis, but protected civilian casualties also. Captain America endorsed his heroism, which resulted in him being awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom.
8 MERGING WITH APOCALYPSE
Apocalypse is one of the most fearsome foes the X-Men have ever tangled with. During the Age of Apocalypse, the ancient tyrant decided to brutally enforce survival of the fittest. Knowing that time was running out, Scott needed to do something drastic to stop the villain once and for all.
In what would be the final confrontation between Scott and Apocalypse, the X-Men were able to expose Apocalypse briefly. Cyclops took it upon himself to dive at Apocalypse, merging with him. Though it did not stop Apocalypse in the way he'd hoped, he was able to maintain the vulnerabilities that would see the villain finally defeated by Cable and Jean.
7 BECAME THE PHOENIX (AGAIN)
After his first taste of the Phoenix Force, Scott was never quite the same. Believing that it had the power to revitalize mutants, Scott also has a strange affinity for it due to its link to his former lover Jean Grey. Coveting the power, Cyclops was able to obtain a dormant version of the entity contained inside an egg.
In the final moments of the universe in Secret Wars, Scott finally opened the egg, once again giving himself ultimate power. His goal was to help usher in a mutant rebirth in the new multiverse somehow. He survives the end of the multiverse in Reed Richard's temporal raft, but is defeated by God-Emperor Doom.
6 DEFEATING MR. SINISTER
Mr. Sinister is a very hard man to defeat permanently. Owing to his aptitude for genetics, he is able to ensure a production line of clone bodies for himself. Already obsessed with Cyclops and his then partner Jean Grey, the warped scientist aimed to use them as test subjects to learn all he could about mutants.
No stranger to experimentation on mutants, Sinister had previously experimented on Gambit, limiting his powers. However, he saw Scott as perfect for study and aimed to clone him and even succeeded. This didn't go unanswered, however, as Cyclops escaped his clutches and took out the genetic eccentric.
5 HELD HIS OWN AGAINST WOLVERINE
Though they tangled when Scott was empowered by the Phoenix, perhaps more impressive was his ability to hold his own against Wolverine without immense power. During the events of Schism, the two X-Veterans find themselves at an impasse. While Wolverine wants to protect young mutants from the dangers of the world, Cyclops believes they must be willing to fight for it.
The two come to blows, with Cyclops blasting off part of Wolverine's face and managing to avoid his claws, for the most part. Years of underlying bitterness bubbled to the surface as the two prideful friends finally brought their rivalry to the fore. The fight was cut short by the arrival of a huge Sentinel.
4 USED AS A LIVING WEAPON IN AGE OF X
While trying to help Legion control his powers, Xavier accidentally has Legion create a whole new, temporary reality. Trapped within, the X-Men's lives before the event are wiped from their mind and things become a little grim. Cyclops is one of the mutants whose new incarnation is more tragic than before.
In Legion's new world, Scott is known as Basilisk and wears a mask to reflect the mythical beast. He was once the prisoner of anti-mutant groups, and his visor would be forcibly opened at will by them. Due to this, they could use Scott to take out other mutants en masse against his will.
3 USING THE LEGACY VIRUS AGAINST SKRULLS
The entire Earth was once infiltrated by Skrulls in the Secret Invasion event. Placing sleeper agents within every major super-team, they almost succeeded when the confusion reached fever pitch. In San Fransisco, however, Scott Summers did not take kindly to the invasion. Much like T'Challa in Wakanda, Scott would not allow his territory to be invaded by the Skrulls.
Re-purposing a strain of the Legacy Virus, a monumentally dangerous virus, Cyclops engaged in chemical warfare with the Skrulls to fend them off. Scott's unflinching use of biological warfare wasn't just a vulgar display of power, it was a testament to the lengths he's willing to go to for his people.
2 SANCTIONED UNCANNY X-FORCE
Keeping with the theme of Cyclops doing what it takes to keep mutants safe, we have the X-Force. While X-Force is not a new concept, this iteration was sanctioned specifically by Scott for their lethal discretion. Though spearheaded by Wolverine, Scott found himself employing individuals he usually wouldn't agree with, such as Deadpool and Fantomex.
Acknowledging that the world is not as black and white as Xavier's original dream would insist, Scott knew desperate times called for desperate measures. He commissioned the team in secret to permanently take care of threats that wanted to permanently take care of mutants. They would report directly to him and the rest of the X-Men weren't exactly happy when they eventually found out about it.
1 IMBUED WITH THE POWER OF THE BLACK VORTEX
While adventuring in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the time-displaced All-New X-Men stumbled upon a powerful cosmic artifact. The Black Vortex of the Celestial Godhead had the power to make its beholder the perfect version of themselves. The power was corrupt, however, driving Beast, Gamora, and Angel to villainy when they accepted its gift.
The more righteous among the heroes were able to use the power and resist the corruption, Scott among them. This younger Scott, still full of ideals and hope, was able to wield his perfect form for good. It even showed the power of his character in his ability to give up his perfection and relinquish the Black Vortex.