Earlier this morning I wrote up a response to a friend who asked why anyone could like Scott Summers, mainly the two women in his life. As I obviously spend a lot of time contemplating the relationships of fictional characters, I give you my response to: ” I just don’t see what these strong confident women find attractive about the whiny, brooding, man-child that is Scott Summers. — Matt”
I think people have this idea about Scott simply based on what they hear or gather from a few titles. If you spend a gross amount if time reading the X-books from 2000 you get a brilliant characterization of what Scott Summers is all about. People like to pass him over as some goody two shoes, or wishy washy man-child. It’s simply not true in some of these books, especially over the past ten years.
Someone asked me why I like Emma, and furthermore assumed I actually like Scott Summers as a character (I don’t, but I can defend him in an essay), and furthermore made the assumption of not understanding why all these “attractive, confident women fall for Scott.” Let me enlighten you.
Jean fell in love with Scott because they were young, they both believed in a greater good and had this glorious cause they were fighting for. They were the quintessential high school romance, constantly surrounded by threat of death and annihilation.
Not all women fall for the bad boy. Scott was X-men’s answer to Superman. He was the young and reluctant hero. His innocence, along with Jean’s is why they fell in love in the first place. Jean, in her youth, was afraid of her powers. While people around her were deciding the future for her, Scott was the only person who said to her to rely on herself and supported her as an equal.
New X-Men deals with what happens when people grow and change. One of the underlying stories of this arc is Scott coming to grips with the realization that he no longer loves his wife, that Jean is no longer the girl of their youth. We see a darker Scott, after having his mind taken over by an alien parasite. During that time, he learned things about himself that he chose to lock away. After the X-Men rescued him, these thoughts continued to eat away at him. His marriage was dissolving, Jean was growing more powerful, and they both were growing distant from each other. The one person who was there to help Scott through this was Emma. When Emma realizes she loves Scott; Scott the Boy Scout; Scott the Leader of the X-Men; Scott the quintessential good guy – she hates herself for it.
The Scott that Emma gets to know upon joining Xavier’s school is not the same guy we have seen in comics for the past 40 years. Scott has become the leader of the X-Men. He shows some great authority and strength of character in times of crisis. Emma’s notion, as well as many readers at this point, that Scott is some do-gooder with a single sense of purpose is stripped away. Yes, he still is fighting for the good of mutant kind, but we see his own inner turmoil; and so does Emma.
At this point in the books, no one can say Scott us some blubbering man child. He’s hurting, as any real man would when all that he knew and believed in the world has changed. How would you feel if you woke up one day and realized the woman you have spent the majority of your life with, the love of your entire world, you no longer were in love with. It’s not easy, I can assure you that from real life experience. You spend time trying to reconstruct what you had, but essentially you are in a state of limbo not knowing what to do and those actions may manifest as petulant because you simple cannot handle the key part of your entire world breaking down. Morrison’s writing from that POV is brilliant.
For a woman like Emma, who hates so much of who she is, falling for someone like Scott is a game changer. She recognizes that he IS the good guy, but deep down she sees a person struggling as much as herself. Remember, Emma wasn’t always the Venus perfection. She had cosmetic surgery in her youth, prior to that she projected an elevated physical appearance of herself to those around her. And that woman has never been confident. Since she the day she joined the Hellfire Club she has been running from her own demons. Falling in love with Scott, however, and eventually developing a relationship with him is when Emma finally starts to forgive, and ultimately, love herself. Scott, for all of his go-good ways, helps Emma fully realize her capacity as a mutant and a teacher, and provides one of the best redemption arcs in all of comics history.
Scott has his flaws, certainly. He’s not my favorite character by any means. Re-reading New X-Men has reminded me how and when Scott starts to become his own man. A lot of people say this happened during the Phoenix Force Five saga and AvX,but go back ten years and you will start to see the outlines of the Scott to be.