Sometimes, when it comes to love, people just cannot help themselves and keep falling for the same type of person again and again. Some like brunettes with glasses, others a special kind of person with a rebellious side. Scott Summers, the courageous and nefarious leader of the X-Men, is no exception, and appears to have a penchant for illustrious telepaths with a bit of a destructive side. The love story of Jean Grey and Cyclops is perhaps one of the most well-known superhero romances. But what about his relationship with Emma Frost? Emma and Scott have a companionship that is more about true partnership, and less about awkward affairs with angst and anger-ridden allies.
So, what’s the story here? After Cyclops has his mind controlled by Apocalypse, Emma takes on the role of psychic therapist, helping Scott deal with and sort through the trauma of being controlled by the most infamous villain in the X-world. During this time, Scott and Jean have grown farther and farther apart (with Cyclop’s Apocalypse-mind-meld and the Phoenix re-manifesting in Jean and all). During this time of healing Scott develops the deep connection with Emma that will later sustain them for the majority of their relationship. It is a connection based on growth and acceptance, an acknowledgement of what each one truly is and can be.
Emma and Scott began as a mental affair, meeting only in their minds. Seems like a pretty fool-proof plan, except for the fact that Scott’s wife is also a telepath and stumbles upon Scott and Emma in bed together…in their minds. Brings a whole new level to the is-wanting-to-do-something-and-imagining-it cheating debate. Jean, the hypocritical scorned wife that she is, humiliates Emma and breaks her into a million pieces, only to reassemble her shortly after. During this process, Jean comes to realize that Emma actually loves Scott and that their affair isn’t just a fling. Shortly after this Jean Grey is killed (for good this time), and Scott, grieving and angry, begins to move on and enters into a public relationship with Emma. His moving on with Emma isn’t a slight against Jean, but a signal of his change: he is no longer the same Scott that married her, after all.
So what makes them so great together? They feed on each other and support each other in a way that encouraged Cyclops to become the leader that was necessary for the X-Men. While Scott’s hero versus villain status is still under contention, there is no denying that he gets the job done. He knows what risks are involved and he’s no longer afraid to take control in order to protect all of mutantkind. Rick Remender, in an interview regarding Emma and Scott’s love life, sums up Scott’s moving on from Jean to Emma as the transition from “boyhood to manhood.” Jean’s death, and Scott’s subsequent actions (both as part of the X-Men and personally) reflects a change in attitude that is almost inevitable after the death of his wife and the life-long persecution of his people.
Scott hardens, loses his idealism, and grows into the leader who will stop at nothing to protect mutantkind from fascist and uncaring foes. And Emma Frost, with her own no-nonsense, do-what-needs-to-be-done attitude, is the perfect companion for him. Scott and Emma grew into a power couple that dared to be reckoned with because they supported each other and knew that doing what was right wasn’t easily defined and sometimes involved making the tough decision. As Cyclops became steadily more dissatisfied with Professor X’s leadership of the school and the X-Men, the necessarily militant leader that Scott is now began to form. And it was Emma, long-time X-Foe turned good guy, who stood by his side.
Now, Emma doesn’t come without baggage, either folks. Jean had her Logan, and Emma has her Namor. In AvX, Namor is a constant threat on the outside, desiring not only Emma, but taunting her about her position as second-best in Scott’s life. The threat Namor poses isn’t exactly the same as the threat of Logan with Scott and Jean, because at the time, Scott and Jean were still figuring it all out; they were kids forced to deal with protecting themselves and their family from constant persecution and extinction. Scott was bound in an idealistic mindframe and Jean’s betrayal and subsequent death act as the catalyst for his evolution into a character who is bigger, stronger, and more of a force of sheer power. When Namor taunts Emma by saying that Scott doesn’t love her as much as he loved Jean, because “he married the redhead,” he is exposing the evolution of Scott’s character. Cyclops now is a military man, a leader who has earned respect and loyalty, and while there may not be a place for Emma as Scott’s wife, she is the rock who helps him along this path and keeps him together.
Then comes AvX, when things become a little messed up for the ultimate power couple. If Scott’s move from Jean to Emma signals his move from a boy to a man, then Scott’s break-up with Emma (after stealing her Phoenix Force powers to become even more powerful) signals a very deep rift in Cyclops, not just from his lover, but from his stalwart position on the X-Men. Scott always loses someone when the Phoenix Force comes into play it seems, and the loss of Emma signals a loss of his stability, as well. Emma was his support, his compassionate companion who understood him and his motives, in a way Jean never did nor could. He was able to rise up from the death of Jean into a better leader, stronger, confident and willing to do what needed to be done to protect his people, his family, all with the help of Emma Frost. What will he become without her?