Why We Love Cyclops With Emma Frost More Than Jean Grey

Posted By on February 14, 2013

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.

New X-Men #139

New X-Men #139

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.

New X-Men #128

New X-Men #128

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.

Image from Marvel.com

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.

All-New X-Men #1

All-New X-Men #1

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?

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11 Responses to “Why We Love Cyclops With Emma Frost More Than Jean Grey”

  1. This is a great read and I’m not just saying that as a lifelong Scott Summers apologist, either! The writing for Scott and Emma has improved steadily over the last few years. Morrison to Whedon to Brubaker and hitting its stride with Matt Fraction, Scott and Emma are more fully formed characters than they’ve ever been before. With Brian Wood’s title set to debut next month, this could be the start of a new golden age for the X-Men.

  2. Sukiyaki_is_yummy says:

    Hi Kaitlin, did you start reading the X-Men at Grant Morrison’s New X-Men? If so, you can be forgiven for not knowing that Jean and Scott shared a psychic rapport which means they each could think and feel what the other was thinking and feeling all the time. Morrison and Casey introduced problems into their relationship that didn’t exist before to break them up. And who does Cyclops say knows him best in AvX Infinite 6? It’s Jean Grey.
    I agree Scott fell out of love with Jean so he cheated and left her for Emma but no, I don’t agree Emma knew Scott in a way Jean never could.

  3. J.P. says:

    I found Scott’s relationship with Emma awesomely interesting to be sure, but I disagree with why it was interesting. I don’t think the Scott/Emma pairing is adult or mature at all. If anything, Scott and Emma are epically dysfunctional – like the sad fallout of a crazy midlife crisis. Considering how the relationship began, that makes sense. And I think you left out the juiciest bits of their “love story.”

    Cyclops didn’t accidentally fall in love with Emma: she preyed upon a broken man’s vulnerability. He came to her emotionally disturbed, hoping she could help fix his marriage. She portrayed herself as a qualified therapist (although the first image of spread-eagle Emma-the-Therapist by Igor Kordey should have been a heads up to Scott that his marital bliss wasn’t her end game).

    While he thought her psychic sessions were helping him deal with his PTSD, she was screwing with him to vindictively needle her professional rival Jean Grey – reassuring him “these are just thoughts” even as he questioned her methods.

    Then *she* accidentally fell in love with him – foiled by her own scheme. Since that time, Cyclops has essentially had a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome – a victim of a bottle blonde sexual predator who abused her position as his therapist just to stir shit up. It’s sick, it’s twisted (from the crazed mind of Grant Morrison, of course!) and it’s one of the best relationship dramas we’ve gotten in comics in over a decade.

    Later writers began to normalize and mainstream the Scott/Emma relationship, pushing it to blander and blander heights. By the time Matt Fraction ended his lackluster run, the whole thing seemed – to me at least – to be even more stale than the snooze-fest pairing of Scott and Jean Grey. At least with Scott and Jean Grey, you expect boring.

    Minor nitpick with continuity – Jean Grey did not shatter Emma into a million pieces. That was Magneto. Jean also did not put Emma back together. That was Beast. Jean resurrected Emma from the pieces Beast assembled – which at that point, I thought was pretty sporting of her.

    Thanks for letting me put in my two cents and for the great read!

    • Branden says:

      Where are you getting that Emma Frost was manipulating Scott? That was nowhere in the “New X-Men”.Jtect

      Emma was trying to help a damaged Scott, but Emma herself is damaged. At the same time Jean was actually becoming a god- and therefore far from relatable for Scott. Emma and Scott fell in love for each other because they were able to bare there true scars to each other.

      Jean and Scott have history and she is his first love- which is important because he grew up as an orphan. But just because she was the only girl around doesn’t make her a perfect match. Besides he has too much weird history with her. Phoenix, Maddie who becomes the Goblyn Queen, baby Nathan who becomes Cable, an alternate reality baby he had with a Cosmic Entity pretending to be his as his girlfriend.

    • Pato says:

      That’s why Brian Michael Bendis broke up Scott and Emma.

  4. Jack Fisher says:

    I have to say I disagree with this article on a great many levels. I think thew writer completely misrepresented the Cyclops/Emma relationship. The mere quote “the hypocritical scorned wife that she is” indicates that the writer has a bias against Jean. The article also conveniently ignored that Cyclops did NOT get together with Emma Frost initially. Jean Grey had to “push” him to do it at the end of Here Comes Tomorrow because if he didn’t, the world would have gone to hell.

    I also think the writer gave WAY too much credit to Emma for making Cyclops who he became. He had to step up simply because Xavier lost credibility and because no one else would. She does complement him, but only in the sense that she’s more willing to cross lines than Jean Grey. And that hasn’t always been healthy for Cyclops (see Messiah Complex).

    Moreover, Cyclops and Emma hardly showed the kind of love that Cyclops and Jean Grey show. Namor was right to point out that Cyclops married Jean Grey, raised a child with her, and sacrificed for her. He never did that with Emma. Saying the Cyclops/Emma relationship was somehow more mature is laughable. Most of their moments involved a few witty one-liners and scenes of them in bed. That is NOT a mature relationship. That is a re-run of Two and a Half Men. Much of their relationship had the depth of a prolonged porno. That is NOT a sign of boyhood to manhood. That’s the epitome of an immature relationship.

    And in the end Jean Grey still understood Cyclops better than Emma. Read AvX Infinite #2. When Cyclops flew to the moon, his conversation with moon-dust Jean made it clear that she knew him best. Even in Astonishing X-men, Emma pointed out she still rated below a corpse. Even she knew Jean Grey was still a big part of Cyclops’s heart. Now I don’t doubt that Cyclops loved Emma, but his relationship with her was nowhere near as deep as his relationship with Jean Grey. It had some depth early on, but after Joss Whedon left it turned into something shallow and overly pornographic. I think it’s good that it’s over now. It wasn’t doing either character any favors whatsoever. They need to be single now and they should not be together anymore.

  5. Y.Y. says:

    Great article! I’m convinced.

  6. Gloria says:

    This whole time I’ve been trying to find someone that says that Emma and Scott are perfect for each other! When I read your first paragraph I said… “Yes!!! Finally someone who totally agrees with me on this!”

  7. Min Seok says:

    I read the article, and I respectfully disagree. Sometimes not too respectfully, but I’m keeping those uncivilized, murderous sentiments to myself.

    But I will always share Betsy Braddock’s thoughts on this, when she herself came back from the dead.

    “Mind you, I can’t help thinking, if resurrections are all the rage…shouldn’t we be counting the days until you-know-who returns from the white-hot you-know-where to reclaim her dear old husband? Won’t that be fun? Oh dear, late for my medical, must run — toodles, Emma darling!” – Elizabeth Braddock – Uncanny X-Men #460

  8. “Jean, the hypocritical scorned wife that she is, humiliates Emma and breaks her into a million pieces, only to reassemble her shortly after.”

    Jean didn’t shatter Emma. Emma, rather, was shot by Esme, one of the Stepford Cuckoos, while Esme was under the influence of Xorn and Sublime. It was Jean’s initiative entirely to reassemble Emma’s diamond body and restore her to life, recognizing at the time that Emma really was in love with Scott. After Jean’s death, in order to save the universe, as avatar of the Phoenix Force she encouraged Scott to reciprocate Emma’s interest in a permanent relationship.

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About the Author

Kaitlin Tremblay
Kaitlin Tremblay is a recent graduate of the Creative Book Publishing Program from Humber College; she has also received her Master's in English and Film, Specialization in Gender and Genre and a BA in Creative Writing. Kaitlin is a writer, a painter, a gamer, with a love for all things horror. Read more from Kaitlin at ThatMonster, Medium Difficulty or follow her on Twitter. Kaitlin's work has also appeared on The Border House, Gamasutra, and Comics Should Be Good.