‘X-Men ’97’ — How Do Cyclops’ Eye Beams Work?


The Big Picture

  • Cyclops’ eye beams are concussive blasts, not heat vision.
  • Scott Summers wears ruby-quartz lenses to control his powers and prevent destructive outbursts.
  • Cyclops can manipulate the intensity of his blasts, showcasing unique and deadly capabilities.

When you see a superhero using their powers, it’s pretty easy to tell what their gimmick is: Quicksilver runs fast, Magneto controls magnetic fields, and Beast is… well, a beast. But when it comes to a particular member of the X-Men, while their powers may seem pretty straightforward, you might be wrong if you tried to explain. The mutant in question is Scott Summers, aka Cyclops (Ray Chase), the leader of the X-Men and breakout star of X-Men ‘97 on Disney+. Cyclops is finally getting the recognition he has long deserved as the great character he is, and his powers are also getting the spotlight, being used in innovative and simply badass ways. And while it appears that the red beam of light emitted by Cyclops is perhaps some heat vision, à la Superman, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

X-Men ’97

A band of mutants use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them; they’re challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

Release Date
March 20, 2024

Jennifer Hale , Cal Dodd , Chris Potter , Catherine Disher , Adrian Hough , Ray Chase , Lenore Zann


Number of Episodes

Streaming Service(s)


What Do Cyclops’ Eye Beams Do, and Where Do They Come From?

Despite the similarity in appearance, Cyclops’ eye beams are very different from conventional heat vision seen in characters like Superman, Ikaris, and Sentry. As the name implies, they emit a concentrated beam of heat that allows them to burn and melt targets, while Cyclops’ eye beams are entirely devoid of heat. The beams are concussive blasts from a different realm known as the Punch Dimension, as described in 1983’s Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. The Punch Dimension is comprised of pure energy, and Scott’s eyes act as apertures, teleporting the otherworldly beams wherever he directs them.

However, the physics behind the Punch Dimension are essentially impossible to explain, and according to X-Men writer Al Ewing, Marvel editors would prefer to avoid any reference to this dimension, stating to Bleeding Cool, “The problem is we’re not allowed to mention Cyclops’ power has dimensional holes to the punch dimension.” While the Punch Dimension explanation is still canon and the most popular explanation for Cyclops’ powers, it is alternatively suggested that he consistently absorbs solar energy and emits it via his optic blasts.

As seen in X-Men ‘97, Cyclops’ eye beams hold much more power than… well, meets the eye. As a concussive force, rather than a white-hot laser, Cyclops can do things like save himself from falling or push himself back for a quick escape. He can also ricochet blasts and has used them to play games like pool in the comics. Most importantly, his eye beams pack a deadly punch, but the amount of force used is entirely controllable by Cyclops. As described on Marvel.com, the maximum force of Cyclops’ eye beams is “sufficient to tip over a filled 5,000-gallon tank at a distance of 20 feet or puncture a 1-inch carbon-steel plate at a distance of 2 feet.” All Cyclops’ has to do is stay concentrated, a tricky task made much easier by his iconic visor.

Why Can’t Cyclops Control His Powers?

Like many of his fellow X-Men, Scott’s origin story is quite uncanny — and in typical superhero fashion, devastatingly tragic. In the midst of a flight alongside his family, the plane started to crash; Scott’s parents pushed him and his brother, Alex, out of the aircraft with the sole parachute in an attempt to save their lives. The brothers have a rough landing, leaving Scott with a head injury that manifests once his mutant gene is activated and depriving him of the ability to control his optic blasts. However, while Scott blames the injury for his lack of control, the possibility of a mental block may also be to blame. Due to the trauma of his parents’ demise, it is posited that Scott has unwittingly created a psychosomatic block that prevents him from controlling his powers.

To combat this impediment, Scott wears a visor fitted with ruby-quartz lenses. Ruby quartz is the only known substance capable of blocking the beams and allows Scott not only to open his eyes but also control the intensity of his blasts. When he isn’t out on a mission as Cyclops, Scott wears glasses, also made from ruby quartz, to protect those around him.

While Cyclops’ abilities are extraordinarily cool, like most X-Men, they are also his curse. Similar to the way Rogue (Lenore Zann) can never touch anyone for fear of hurting them, Scott can never be without his visor or glasses, blocking everyone’s view of his eyes. Since the eyes are considered the window to the soul, you could say Scott always has his guard up. And if the latest episode of X-Men ‘97 is any indication, it’s not going down anytime soon. Damn you, Mister Sinister (Chris Britton)!

X-Men ’97 is available to stream on Disney+ in the U.S., with new episodes premiering weekly every Wednesday.

Watch on Disney+


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