Many stunning heroes have been in charge of Marvel's X-Men from Dr. Charles Xavier to Kitty Pryde, but none quite so complicated and hard working as Cyclops. Scott Summers, the first official member of the X-Men, has led the X-Men intermittently since their existence, giving him plenty of time to make mistakes, learn and grow as a role model for thousands of mutants world wide.
Cyclops was orphaned young and walked the thin line between heroism and villainy before committing himself to the X-Men and even today his intentions are questioned and his methods are unorthodox. Cyclops is a character that never stops learning from his mistakes and never stops chasing after the future he has envisioned for those he loves and the community he is a part of.
Just as he learns, audiences have much to learn from Scott Summers about how to be the head of a team. Here are Cyclops' best quotes about his time as a leader, whether he was in charge of the X-Men at the time or not.
10 How He Got There
"Stepping up. It's a simple concept. It basically means to rise above yourself; to do a little more, to show you something special."
Scott Summers was a 16-year old orphan before he let the X-Men change his life. Before then, he had many choices to make. He was on the verge of becoming a bad guy alongside Jack O' Diamonds.
Stepping up is all the X-Men leader has ever known. Overcoming the death of his parents, the many mistakes he has made and the world's outright hatred of him and his kind. Again and again, Scott rises above himself during the X-Men's hardest times from the Dark Phoenix Saga to the Messiah Complex and World War Hulk.
9 Why He Does It
"That's why I am a leader. The blind leading the blind, maybe... but a leader nonetheless. A leader because I'm prepared to take the fall, and because I'm prepared to make the hard decisions. And leading with certainty into an uncertain future doesn't require sight. It requires vision. It requires holding on. And no matter what happens, never letting go."
While the X-Men leader is not actually blind, his lack of control over his optic blasts has definitely called his leadership abilities into question over the 56 years he has been a part of the X-Men. But this quote shows why he is a perfectly suited leader for the group of young mutants.
Scott Summers has never needed precognition to see what the future holds for his team or his family. Scott's uncanny ability to see what the future holds in store for those he is in charge of has continually made him not only a loyal and strong leader but a loyal and strong father.
8 Who He Does It For
"I see a man. A uniformed man with his hands around the throat of a new mutant just coming into bloom... I see a man with a gun pointed at the head of a child... I am not going to have my people treated that way! I'm not going to have it! And shame on you for not seeing that!"
Though lines have often been crossed (specifically by Magneto, but by the X-Men also), mutants have been fighting for their equality and independence for decades across comic books, movies and television. Cyclops has never lost sight of this vision and his community's safety and happiness has always been his number one goal.
7 Who Taught Him To Do It
"The Professor used to tell me the most important part of leading wasn't personality, tactics, or training. It was doing whatever it takes to get your team back alive."
To say bridges have been burned between Scott and Dr. Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men, would be the understatement of the year. This has never changed who mentored Scott into the leadership of X-Men and who gave him the opportunity to join the X-Men, in the first place.
The two may have their differences (world's largest understatement, as mentioned) but that cannot change the years Cyclops spent with Charles as his sole father figure. The skills and qualities he learned from Dr. Xavier go above and beyond leadership and have shaped the very man Scott Summers became.
6 How He Does It
"No. Not plan B. Plan 2. 'Plan B' implies we only have 26."
If there's anything more indicative of a leader than contingency plans in the double digits, then Cyclops more than likely used those skills in the Fear Itself tie in where he is quoted as saying this. While Cyclops' working as a team skills were continually tested in this series (particularly with the mayor of San Francisco Sadie Sinclair) - he never stopped working towards the greater good, a quality Cyclops is known for even to a fault.
Not only does he get the job done, but he did so while training future X-Men leaders from Kitty Pryde to Storm whether he knew he was doing it or not.
5 How He Keeps Doing It
"I know now that I have to be vigilant. I cannot--I will not--let the Phoenix change me. Inside all this power, I have to preserve the man I've always been. I have to remember why I fight. Because if I lose sight of that...what's it all been for?"
Unrelenting. This is the through line of all these quotes from Cyclops over the 50 plus years he has been with the X-Men (off and on). He is unrelenting in his leadership style, his adherence to his moral understanding and his strides towards his goal. Cyclops has never backed down from wanting an equal world, built on love of all people. A world that is fearless.
It has made him delusional, it has taken him from his family and those he loves and it has made him a real asshole at times. But his leadership ability is undeniable when you look at his moral stamina and laser focused vision.
4 What He's Doing It For
"Since I was a boy, I've fought for the day when you would have the choice to live however you wanted. Today is not that day. Today each of you will face a future of mutant extinction....Today you are all combatants. You are all x-men. Fight or die."
It is arguable that in this moment, Cyclops' asks too much of those who have already put in a lot and are too young to pay the costs of a world built by those older than them. But isn't that what a good leader does? Knows his team, knows their limits and when it is time to ask the hard questions or for the hard sacrifices? Cyclops looked at a world that was too close to making permanent, fatal errors and did not sugarcoat it for his team.
The massive leadership qualities he shows here are making the hard calls, at the right moments, with the right people who can definitely handle it. He hasn't saved the world multiple times easily but he has definitely saved 616 (and other realities) more times than are countable.
3 Why He Stopped
"You urged me to be the better man. I'd like to be that. I honestly would. But when you're being the better man, I don't need to be. Instead, I can be the man who does what's necessary."
Earlier, Cyclops was praised for knowing the limits of his team and pushing them to fight when a situation is so bad it cannot be sugar coated. So, how about him knowing his own limits? Knowing when he is not best for the team? Continuing to fight for the people he feels responsible for, Cyclops' greatest quality may be his ability to see when it is time to step back and let someone else take the reins.
Cyclops has been associated with the X-Men for a long time but not always as their leader. He took breaks to fight the good fight in a way the X-Men were unprepared for. During these times, he knew his fight was not done but that his time as the most effective leader was.
2 Even When He Stopped
"I'm a prisoner. I have to be a prisoner. I'm a political prisoner. I'm not going to let them turn me into a criminal."
Not only did he back down from his leadership role when the situation called for it but he has backed down and taken the hard road anytime. For the betterment of his team and his beliefs, he remained a prisoner. Being a criminal is not something the X-Men could have standed, especially with such a bad public reputation at times.
As mentioned previously, Cyclops has never backed down from having a clear understanding of who he is, why he does what he does and why the world needs him to fight this good fight. He takes the hard road when he must, even if that means losing his freedoms. What's more inspiring than that?
1 Who He Leads
"To me, my x-men."
It is impossible to talk about Cyclops quotes without including his infamous call to arms. While this may be the shortest quote on this list, it does not lack a solid vision of Cyclops as a leader. In such few words he takes responsibility for all those he leads. He trusts them, relies on them and has not even a natural instinct to doubt they will be there when he needs them.
Cyclops has risen and fallen as leader of the X-Men. At times, he looks more villainous than Magneto or Apocalypse. He has basic human flaw despite being a mutant. But, he has raised a team he knows he can trust and he knows the world can trust. He claims them as his responsibility, as his family and his community in four simple, iconic words.