If you’ve heard of the X-Men, chances are you know who Cyclops is. Right now, you’re probably thinking of a guy who shoots a big red laser beam out of his eyes, right? Well, that’s only half true. Big red beam, yes. Laser? Not even close.
While he may never reach Wolverine’s heights of name recognition, the mutant known as Cyclops has been a crucial part of the X-Men since the very beginning. Usually, the de facto leader of the team—think Leonardo to Professor Xavier’s Splinter—Cyclops, AKA Scott Summers is a pretty big deal.
And yet, somehow, despite being such a well-known character, he has the most misunderstood superpower of any Marvel hero—mutant or otherwise. Buckle up because it’s about to get weird.
To reiterate, Cyclops does not fire lasers out of his eyes, but you’re not wrong for assuming that he does. Ever since Superman first made laser vision a comic book staple, tons of heroes—usually copycats of Superman himself—have displayed the same ability.
Even X-Men co-creator Stan Lee sometimes forgot that the blasts shooting out of Scott’s eyes weren’t lasers. Then again, what do you expect from the guy who had to officially change the Hulk’s name to Robert Bruce Banner because he kept accidentally writing his name as Bob Banner?
Cyclops, AKA Scott Summers has the most misunderstood superpower of any Marvel hero—mutant or otherwise
Cyclops may shoot red beams out of his eyes—or rather red beams shoot themselves out of his eyes, but we’ll get to that—but they generate no heat and function more like a blunt object than a ray of light. The energy that comes out of Scott Summers when he opens his eyes is a concentrated blast of kinetic energy powerful enough to smack the top of a mountain or to karate chop a skyscraper in half.
In short, Cyclops is the only member of the X-Men who can punch people with his eyes.
Unfortunatley, Scott can’t control his optic blasts hence his everpresent ruby quartz visor. Cyclops was in a plane crash as a child, which left him unable to control his powers when his eyes are open.
A complicated childhood that included a stint in an orphanage run by X-Men baddie Mr. Sinister further complicated Scott’s relationship with his eye blasts, and to this day, he still can’t open his eyes without leveling a city block.
But wait a minute, Wolverine is the one from the X-Men with the adamantium-wrapped spine. How does Cylcops manage not to snap his neck every time he uses his power? Would you believe it’s because his eyes are portals to a dimension full of nothing but infinite amounts of red punch energy?
The energy that comes out of Scott Summers when he opens his eyes is a concentrated blast of kinetic energy powerful enough to smack the top of a mountain or to karate chop a skyscraper in half.
It works like this: kinetic energy is always knocking at the door that is Cyclops’s eyes. When X-Men’s oldest member opens them, he’s essentially letting the energy fly out of its own volition. The energy comes from a “non-Einsteinian” universe.
It pushes its way into ours through Scott’s peeper allowing an equal and opposite force, according to Newtonian physics, to be pushed back into that other universe through those very same peepers with no force being exerted on Scott himself whatsoever.
This explanation for how Cyclops’ eyebeams work originally came from the 1983 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, where Marvel writers described his eyes as “…interdimensional apertures between this universe and another non-Einsteinian universe, where physical laws as we know them do not pertain.”
The writers further described what fans soon dubbed the “Punch Dimension” as a universe full of particles that “generate great, directional concussive forces when they interact with the objects of this universe.” In other words, Punch Dimension.
Marvel’s Attempts To Retcon Cyclops’ Powers
In the decades since, various X-Men writers have tried to retcon this so that Cyclops is just an energy manipulator who absorbs energy from the sun and other sources and converts it into a streak of blunt force for his eyes to shoot out.
At least one attempt was made to merge the two theories, however, with 2004’s version of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. The ’04 Handbook stated that Scott first absorbs energy and then uses that energy to open the portal to the Punch Dimension.
Despite Marvel trying to downplay the Punch Dimension angle when it comes to Cyclops’ powers, many fans still accept this as the canon explanation for Scott’s powers. For one thing, it’s the only way to explain why the X-Men don’t have two wheelchair-bound members other than Summers having the oddly specific power of a neck stronger than the Incredible Hulk.
Also, it’s just such a cool concept. Who can’t get behind the idea of a dimension full of nothing but red, punchy, smack energy?
The idea is so cool that Marvel actually did make the Punch Dimension itself cannon a few years ago by having dimension-hopping hero America Chavez open a portal to “a dimension of pure, endless, concussive force.” The color of that endless concussive force? Red, naturally.
It’s only a matter of time before some X-Men writer officially makes Chavez’s Punch Dimension the source of Cyclops’ powers again.