For as long as the X-Men has sat on Marvel’s shelves, Cyclops has always been associated with being the team’s leader. It’s hard to talk about the team without talking about Cyclops. At the same time, it’s hard to talk about either without talking about Wolverine. Mostly because he’s been featured so heavily in comic lore ever since making his comic book debut as a member of the X-Men. In fact, Cyclops has sorely found himself overshadowed in favor of his Canadian beer-drinking and claw swinging cast-mate. Cyclops has found himself leading the X-Men for several decades now, but more often than not, Wolverine has found himself stealing the show away from his leader. Whether it’s in the comics or on the big screen, most audiences find themselves talking about Wolverine when the credits roll or the final page has been turned. The frequent appearances and overwhelming popularity of Wolverine should make Cyclops irrelevant at this point, but for some audiences, the immeasurable love for Wolverine by the majority public has made Cyclops even more in demand.
The more people love Wolverine, the more some audiences find themselves hating him and when they start hating him, they look for Cyclops as an alternative. That isn’t to say that Cyclops is the most lovable member of the X-Men seeing as he has a vast range of haters himself, but when we look at the pedigree of Wolverine, some of us can see why some readers are just sick of the fanged mutant. If not sick of, than just outright hate. When we look at the history regarding both men, truth be told, there are more reasons to love the underrated Cyclops than Wolverine and there are even more reasons to hate Wolverine than the much maligned Cyclops. Here’s why.
16. Wolverine is a Caricature, Not a Character
We can all admit that Wolverine has some pretty cool powers, but we can’t say much more than that. To tell the truth, more often than not, Wolverine is more powers and muscle than brains and character. That isn’t always the case as we do, on occasion get a multi-layered Wolverine in comics like Old Man Logan or the recently released film Logan, but it’s a rare sight. It’s mostly more of the same with Wolverine. He sneaks his way through his rivals, quips a few “Bub” lines, growls, then lather, rinse, repeat. That isn’t the makings of a compelling character worth the media coverage he’s received. That’s the makings of a boring character. He’s always fun to watch in action, but in simple dialogue exchanges, he’s exposed as a boring numskull. He might have a distinctive personality, but don’t mistake that for character. To quote The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have character.” We can barely merit Wolverine as a character. He feels like more of a child’s wet dream than an actual well rounded character. He’s a caricature more than anything else. Wolverine is defined by his powers. In fact, he is his powers. Nothing more and nothing less but some claws, growls, and a couple cool quips. That doesn’t make Wolverine badass. Just boring.
15. Cyclops is Underrated
When you ask someone who their favorite X-Men character is, the least likely answer will be Cyclops. Whether it be because Cyclops hasn’t made an impact for them or because they find him boring solely depends on the person. Either way, the fact remains that Cyclops deserves more love than he gets nowadays and those who love Cyclops over Wolverine can tell you that. He may not be at the forefront of most X-Men advertisement despite being the leader, but that doesn’t make him any less of an asset to both the team and the X-Men universe. In many ways, he is the quintessential superhero who fights for what is right with the utmost upstanding values that an audience can ask for in their hero. To some, that can be boring, but in an era where the tropes of badass hero or anti-hero is so overused, the classic Cyclops feels like a breath of fresh air. Which, speaking of overused badassery, this explains why Wolverine is so overrated.
14. Wolverine is Overrated
Given all of the promotion that the character gets and all of the solo stories he’s given, Wolverine isn’t nearly as cool as Marvel wants us to think he is. From his overpowered nature to his lame one-liners to his stupid haircut and even dumber comic costume, Wolverine is kind of lame. Not only lame, but he’s pretty overrated. Even when we look at him in light of the rest of his teammates, he doesn’t even have the coolest powers. Guys like Quicksilver and Nightcrawler—just to name a couple examples—have proven to be more entertaining to watch in action. As a character, Wolverine is just borderline irritating in his condescending attempts at being a man’s man. Maybe we’ve become too numb to his character, but he’s practically become a parody of himself we’ve seen him so often. His delivery and presence is bordering on being comical at this point.
13. Stan Lee Loves Cyclops
Once in an August 1993 issue of Wizard Magazine, Stan Lee admitted that along with Beast, Cyclops was one of his favorite superheroes to ever come out of the X-Men. As Lee explained, the reason being because “I love tortured heroes – and he was tortured because he couldn’t control his powers.” Seeing how much Lee has decided to cherry pick Cyclops as his favorite X-Man compared to the huge litter of Marvel characters really puts into perspective Cyclops’ importance to not only the X-Men, but also the Marvel Universe. Seeing how much the godfather of the Marvel universe seems to love Cyclops makes us appreciate the beam visioned hero all the more. Especially when Lee is able to love Cyclops more than the biggest cash cow of the X-Men series, Wolverine.
12. Wolverine Stole Cyclops’ Girlfriend
This is an easy reason to hate anyone, yet alone a character. Whether we’ve been cheated on or not, no one can tolerate that the thought of it and we can all agree it is quite the heinous act. Which is why we’re so easy to hate on Wolverine whenever he’s stolen Cyclops’ girlfriend, Jean Grey, away from him numerous times across the comics and even the movies. Jean and Wolvie have always shared a forbidden chemistry in the Marvel Universe when she was still dating Cyclops. Sometimes, she’s merely shared winks and blinks with Wolverine. Other times, they hook up completely to the chagrin of Cyclops. With this said, Cyclops isn’t exactly a saint himself when it comes to cheating. Though, to be fair, Cyclops’ psychic affair with Emma Frost was literally all in his head. It’s the equivalent of a guy m———g to p–n while his girlfriend’s away. No physical contact means no actual cheating went down on Cyclops’ behalf. Jean Grey, on the other hand, has acted on her urges towards Wolverine plenty of times and more often than not, Wolverine instigates the sexual tension between them. We can’t help but feel bad for Cyclops.
11. Wolverine is Overexposed
Whether it is the movies or the comics, Wolverine often finds himself at the forefront of the X-Men brand. Film-wise especially, the character has probably found himself on screen more than anyone else in the franchise and that isn’t even including his three film spinoffs. He’s also had countless stand alone titles in the comic books. There once was even an animated series call Wolverine and the X-Men, as if Wolvie is in a league all to himself. It would be an understatement to say Wolverine has been overexposed in the X-Men series. His face is first, front, and center in all posters, movies, shows, toys, and games related to the X-Men series. Sure, he may be the most popular character, but seeing how much he gets shoved down our throats is a real turnoff. It actually makes us appreciate Cyclops even more because we don’t see him nearly as often as Wolverine.
10. Cyclops Has More To Overcome
Unlike Wolverine, Cyclops actually feels like a well-rounded character. He’s complex, three-dimensional, and often compelling. This is due to the fact that his character has more to struggle from. This is a guy whose life fell to pieces during his childhood because he discovered his powers after suffering brain damage during a plane crash which killed his parents, was forced to spend time in an orphanage run by supervillain Mister Sinister who ran experiments on the boy, and spent most of his life thinking his brother died before finding out he grew up to become mutant Havoc. And that’s all BEFORE Charles Xavier finds him at age 15 and appoints him leader of the X-Men. Even now, Cyclops has to deal with a lot. Most recently being possessed by the Phoenix Force and killing Xavier while under its control. You see Cyclops’ struggle, watch him grow, and you understand where he’s coming from even if you don’t like him. Wish we could say the same about Wolverine.
9. Cyclops Actually Has Character Development
Some comic fans who have watched Cyclops’ struggle can probably argue that he is nothing more than a d*ck. While that may be true, we at least understand his reasons for choosing such a path. He has flaws that he can’t help but wear on his sleeve and not only does that make him a compelling character, it makes him a relatable one. We may not all have beams shooting from our eyes, but we all have flaws and are all trying to do what we deem to be the right thing. Even if we find out afterwards that the right thing was the wrong choice, we at least live and learn from our actions and turn into better people. That’s Cyclops in a nutshell. The more flawed he is, the more human he appears to be despite his mutant exterior. We can’t stay the same for Wolverine, who more or less stays exactly the same no matter what he goes through.
8. Wolverine’s Kind of Problematic
There’s a lot of disparaging words that can be thrown Cyclops’ way, but one word that we can’t call Cyclops is problematic. That is a word more apropos for Wolverine, whose presentation in an issue of Punisher may have rubbed some readers the wrong way. In issue #186 of the comic, Wolverine runs into The Punisher and hangs a male body magazine over his body, questioning how Frank Castle is “single, neat, [and] very organized,” obviously insinuating that The Punisher might be gay. It’s easy to see why this blatant homophobia may touch a nerve with some readers. Not only that, but given how Wolverine’s mutanthood puts him in a universe where he is part of the most hated sub-group of individuals, it makes it a little questionable to see him putting down another sub-group of marginalized people. Definitely not for the PC crowd or easily offended.
7. The Anti-Hero Complex
The anti-hero is a concept that often gets misconstrued in storytelling. Traditionally, the anti-hero refers to a character whose actions are questionable, but their intentions are good. Take Magneto’s key motivations as an example or even Deadpool. Wolverine’s d*ckish behavior often gets excused as the actions of an anti-hero, but that isn’t the true case. Wolverine often doesn’t even have motivations. He’s just a wanderer who falls into sticky situations and rather than save people, he tries to get himself out of these predicaments without any regard for anyone else. He just does what he wants when he wants to. Wolverine is no anti-hero. He is just a d*ck who treats everyone like an asshole. Now it seems that Cyclops’ current writings have him out to be an anti-hero himself, which is a shame because his standpoint as a true blue hero in the vein of Captain America makes him refreshing. A character that is unmistakably always trying to do the right thing, even when sometimes the right thing is questionable.
6. Wolverine Can Be Even Cornier Than Cyclops Sometimes
A big complaint against Cyclops is that he can be really corny sometimes. Let’s not act like Wolverine hasn’t been prone to being a cornball himself on occasion. A prime example was in an issue of Astonishing X-Men when Wolverine is stripped of his trademarked masculinity in favor of a more child-like wonder when he starts building arts and crafts, which he deems to be “so terribly pretty!” In the same comic series, the once presumably macho and unafraid Wolverine found himself cowardly hiding in a tree to hide from The Beast when the blue creature was on an unrelenting charge on the town. Don’t let the tough exterior fool you. Underneath those mutton chops, Wolverine is a big fat and feeble puppy.
5. Wolverine is Overpowered
This might be a controversial standpoint, but Wolverine is overpowered in the same way that DC’s Superman is overpowered. Both men are protected by both an unlimited stack of powers as well as their brand name which makes studios reluctant to kill either. Wolverine has unbreakable bones, fatal claws, regenerative abilities, enhanced strength and speed, and a flurry of other skills. A superhero should never have too many powers or else it is easy for them to lose their appeal. Without a proper adversary who can leave the slightest of scratch on Wolverine, it makes the outcome of all his stories sound all the more predictable. That outcome being with Wolvie coming out on top.
4. Wolverine is Boring
Let’s face it, Wolverine is kind of boring. Not just because his character has remained stagnant for so many years. Not just because he feels like a loser’s imitation of a tough guy rather than an actual tough guy. Not even because there is more emphasis put on his powers than his character. More than anything else, it is because there is no real challenge for him or threat to his well being. Not just because of a regenerative ability which makes him practically unkillable—which also has made him less than tolerable and, of course, rather dull—but because we all know he is too much of a cash cow to ever die. Unless he’s depicted as an old man nearing his final days or final panels, there is no real danger that we can buy into for him. In the comics especially, even if they do manage to kill him off, we all know it’ll be a matter of time before the writers find a way to bring him back, as with any other household name which sells too well to kill off for an extended period of time (i.e. Superman, Batman, etc.).
3. Cyclops is the Perfect Antithesis to Wolverine
For those who hate Wolverine, Cyclops might be the ideal dreamboat for them. In terms of personality and powers, the two couldn’t be more far apart from each other. If you don’t like Wolverine’s slashing claws and regenerative ability which makes him virtually unstoppable, you might enjoy Cyclops’ blasting beams from his eyes. Anyone who loathes Wolverine’s brass and mean-spirited attitude may find Cyclops’ more nuanced, vulnerable, and relaxed character more appealing. Anybody looking for less action and more character centered stories will probably lean more in favor of Cyclops. Therefore, Cyclops is the perfect alternative for all of the Wolverine haters out there.
2. Wolverine is a Jerk For No Reason
Say what you will about Cyclops being a jerk, but at least we can understand why he can be a jerk sometimes thanks to everything he’s been through. In fact, we are able to see the gradual change that Cyclops goes through as a man shifting from an upstanding mutant trying to keep a righteous head on his shoulders to a jerk that becomes hardened and numbed by the world around him. He keeps getting knocked down by the world until one day he decides to do some knocking himself. Wolverine, on the other hand, has always been a jerk. Yes, we know, Wolverine hasn’t had it easy either—what with being tortured, experimented on, and losing his memory—but if we pay close attention to Wolverine’s origins both on the page and on the screen, he was a jerk before all that as well. He verbally berates and insults everyone he runs into. Not only does the schtick get old fast, it makes him harder to like the more we see of it.
1. Without Cyclops, There IS NO X-Men
Say what you will about Cyclops—say he’s boring, dull, etc—but let us not forget just how substantial he is to the X-Men team. Long before Wolverine was ever even conceived to be on the page of a comic strip, Cyclops was there in Marvel canon for the very first issue of The X-Men which hit the shelves in 1963. It is easy to imagine the X-Men without Wolverine because he wasn’t there at the very beginning. Plus, the character finds himself in so many solo stories that he can be considered a part time member of the X-Men anyway. As for Cyclops, for as long as he’s been with the team, it’s hard to even imagine the X-Men without him on the team. In the same regard, it’s hard to like the X-Men without liking their longtime leader as well.