The X-Men are headed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, with them, the team’s most consistent field leader, Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops. While fans are still years away until some of Marvel’s most popular mutant characters make their way into the Disney-owned franchise, thoughts and speculation over the team’s casting have been persistent. And judging by Scott’s prominent role in the comics, the actor selected to play him will likely serve as a crucial anchor when putting together a new X-team for the big screen.
Cyclops is an ideal X-Men for the MCU, particularly after the hero’s run with 21st Century Fox, where he was played by actors James Marsden and Tye Sheriden (and, less crucially, by Tim Pocock in X-Men Origins: Wolverine). While all performers do an admirable job in playing the optic-blasting mutant, it is generally agreed that the character’s screen time and plot significance were overshadowed throughout all of his appearances, typically by Wolverine — notably, Marsden’s Cyclops was killed unceremoniously and off-screen in the opening minutes of X-Men: The Last Stand. Yet, in the comics, Scott Summer’s story is far more interesting, his extensive history including a crime during his younger years, a space pirate father, and his own possession by the Phoenix Force, an event which ultimately led to Professor Xavier’s demise and his departure from his mentor’s school.
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Assuming that the MCU will want to explore these previously untapped waters for the big screen, they will require a new actor up to the challenges that come with such a varied and complicated character. Here is a list of five men who would be fine choices to don Cyclops’s ruby-quartz visor.
No stranger to large-scale action movies, this Hunger Games star would make a perfect Slim Summers. Tall and strapping, Liam Hemsworth is a dead ringer for Xavier’s protege, but it is the actor’s quiet and reserved energy that truly sets him apart from others on this list. In a handful of his previous roles, Hemsworth has displayed a certain sensitive strength that would certainly come in handy should the MCU tap into the character’s long and turbulent comic book arc.
Hemsworth — who has also starred in films like The Expendables 2 and Independence Day: Resurgence — has also proven that he is able to carry himself like a military man, a quality very much in line with Cyclops, who often finds himself on the front lines of Xavier’s battle for mutant equality and peace. And considering the many times Cyclops has teamed up with (or battled against) Thor in the comics, perhaps a Hemsworth Brother crossover is in the MCU’s future.
For some incarnations of the character, Scott Summers has been reduced to something resembling the X-Men’s cranky dad, a characterization most fully on display in X-Men: The Animated Series of the 1990’s. Often used as a narrative foil to the more popular Wolverine in the widely-watched cartoon, the MCU will need to find an actor charming and likable to combat that stereotype. And Henry Golding, known for roles in Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas, and The Gentlemen would be just the man for the job.
A more charismatic approach to the character would be helpful if the MCU chooses to explore Cyclops’s romantic relationships more fully than in the Wolverine-centric Fox films. With Golding’s combination of swoon-worthy earnestness and unexpected grit, Marvel Studios has an opportunity to finally bring Scott out of Logan’s shadow.
The youngest performer on this list, Dacre Montgomery would be a great choice for a more youthful Cyclops — and considering the number of films on many the MCU actors’ contracts, Marvel Studios will likely choose an actor able to play the part comfortably for the the next decade or so. Montgomery is best known for playing Billy Hargrove in Stranger Things, a role which called for a dark and borderline evil performance. However, the actor took a more heroic turn in the Power Ranger film, where he took on the role of the Red Ranger.
Previously, Dacre Montgomery has managed to inject a healthy dose of humanity into even the most over-the-top characters, a skill helpful in a world as bright, colorful, and bombastic as the MCU. Thanks to the actor’s considerable range and penchant for making bold character choices, he would be well-suited for such a potentially interesting mutant.
Speaking of Power Rangers, Eka Darville, who also played an incarnation of the Red Ranger at one point, would make an excellent leader for the X-Men. Many Marvel fans will recognize Darville for his portrayal of Malcom in Jessica Jones series, a show who’s ties to the larger MCU are up for debate, as evidenced with the studio’s recent attempts to push their Netflix heroes off to the side in favor of their Disney+ productions. Yet, having actors cross over from Marvel’s Netflix-produced series is hardly a new phenomenon: Luke Cage‘s Alfre Woodard popped up in Captain America: Civil War and Mahershala Ali, the show’s season one antagonist, is slated to play the title role in Blade.
Darville, also known for his work in Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Empire, has a knack for playing strong characters experiencing moments of great vulnerability. Consider for a moment Malcom’s arc after being mind controlled by Killgrave in Netflix’s Jessica Jones; then think about the many times Scott Summers has been subject to psionic manipulation in the comics, perpetrated by the likes of Professor Xavier in “Deadly Genesis” and Apocalypse in “The Twelve” — to say nothing of his complicated romantic entanglements with top-tier telepaths Jean Grey and Emma Frost. Darville’s ability to engage with horrific traumas without betraying his character’s determination and fortitude is evident in his previous experience, making him a prime candidate for Cyclops.
With plans for a Solo: A Star Wars Story sequel apparently off the table, Alden Ehrenrich may be ready to jump onboard another of Disney’s successful intellectual properties. The most recent actor to play the iconic Han Solo has also worked on films such as Blue Jasmine and Hail Caesar!, all the while showcasing exceptional acting range and a willingness to try his hand at a wide variety of material.
Ehrenreich is a traditional James Dean-type leading man and would certainly mirror Scott Summers’s classic look, as well as the hero’s tendency to internalize his emotions. After all, Han Solo is another popular character well-known for his hiding his feelings behind a veneer of toughness. Who knows? Perhaps Ehrenreich will be able to trade in the Millennium Falcon for the X-Jet.
With so many MCU-related projects in development, it is clear that Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios are carving out even more time and space for its heroes than even the Infinity Saga was able to facilitate. Since the X-Men has been long-considered one of Marvel’s most dynamic, timely, and lucrative properties, signs are beginning to point toward a new era in which mutants will pop up in and out of X-titles, allowing for seemingly endless visibility and narrative possibility. Hopefully, Cyclops — played by a strong actor handed equally strong material — will get his due at last.
Next: Casting Professor X For The MCU
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