I read recently that Cyclops' optic blasts don't produce heat. I found this very surprising. I watched X-Men: The Animated Series growing up, and re-watched it not that long ago as an adult. I definitely came away with the impression that he was shooting eye-lasers, which burnt and melted things.

Then, in X-Men: Apocalypse, Scott blasts apart a tree when asked to fire at an archery target. Xavier's favorite tree. I recall the tree burning, or at least glowing. But I can find neither a picture of the tree nor a clip of the scene to confirm my memory.

I believe there are other examples of this sort of thing occurring in other comics, shows, and movies. I'd appreciate additional examples, if anyone is aware of any. I'll add any more I come across.

So what's the deal? Do the blasts produce heat or not? If not, why was the tree burning?

  • I'm sure I remember Cyclops' eye-lasers setting Xavier's underground tunnel on fire during X-Men: First Class, so I always assumed he did produce substantial heat with the lasers. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 1:08
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    They are not lasers. This is one more example of writers who are not familiar with the source material. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 1:16
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    @Singular1ty cyclops and his eye-lasers weren't in x-men: first class. they weren't even born yet. his brother alex was, though.
    – phantom42
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 1:46
  • Although the answer to the other question describes some aspects of Cyclops' blasts, it doesn't say anything about heat one way or the other, and there's no mention of a tree. Definitely not a duplicate.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 16:55
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    @Skooba It seems like that much force would produce heat on the other end, even if the blast itself was not hot.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 21:55

4 Answers 4


All heat is a form of energy, but not all energy is heat. Heat, as we know it, is just energy in the infra-red portion of the light/energy spectrum. We get too much sun, our skin gets damaged and we get radiation "burns" from the ultra-violet, but they aren't heat burns.

Often, a material will absorb the energy on one wavelength and emit back energy on another wavelength.

Whatever form or wavelength his optic blasts are on still contains energy, and it's possible for a tree to not be able to absorb or deflect that much energy causing a reaction that ignites the material, or the energy is absorbed and then emitted as heat, which causes ignition.

Think of a microwave oven - it shoots energy, not in the form of heat, at the material, but the material still heats up.

How microwave ovens work

  • It's not true that "heat is just energy in the infra-red portion of the light/energy spectrum". Heat is disordered vibration of molecules. Objects radiate EM radiation in accordance with their temperature. But heat is not this radiation, nor is the radiation confined to the infra-red range. Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 16:27

Cyclops' power is a concussion beam. His beams doesn't have heat as primary damage source, but impact. In Proteus arc, he stopped Wolverine's fall from a greath height by continually firing small beans at Wolvie's butt, which slowed his fall speed to a safe zone (Wolverine was not immortal back then).

Some writers don't understand this and write Cyclops' beams as simple lasers. In his battle against Wolverisne in Schism, Cyclops fires his beams at Wolverine's face in close range, and all damage he manages to do is to rip of Wolvie's skin, while he should blast the guy meters away.

In other words, Cyclops beams are not supposed to melt you, they're supposed to blast you away.

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    Thanks for the answer with references. That being said, you've given an example of his blasts as working like a laser in a published comic. This shows that sometimes his blasts work like lasers. Do you have anything to support your assertion that these writers "don't understand"?
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 20:39

cyclops's blast are concussive yes, but the impact force of the blasts creates pressure and friction on whatever object is targeted therefore creating heat, ie: trees gets set on fire when cyclops blasts it to pieces. as well, the sheer blunt force of his blast can blow flesh away, so wolverine having his face blown off makes sense; if that wasnt wolverine, the optic blast would have simply punched a hole through his head end of story. but since wolvie has his adimantium skull, the optic blast couldnt not penetrate and therefore pretty much just pushed really hard on his face till it ripped off. bottom line, no they themselves do not produce heat, heat is produced as a byproduct of the optic blasts coming into contact with matter at high speeds and high impact force. very different. cyclops has used his beams to focus on the head of an accupuncture needle to create pressure and torture a man for info. no heat produced because the optic blast was used with very little but a consistent speed and low but steady impact force. you only ever see the blasts set things on fire or melt metal when cyclops is in the heat of battle, where his blasts are flying out very fast and obviously with great force. just my thoughts though...sidenote: not quite fully explained in comics but cyclops can clearly dictate the amount of force and the speed at which his blasts are fired. its not simply due to the visor, yes it aids in control but it is a force of will that allows him to output varying levels of of concussive force with his blasts, AND that mf has the strongest neck in comics.

  • This is the most accurate answer by far.
    – Jason
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 2:11

Yes, but Cyclops is able to PUT OUT fires by concussing the fire with such speed and force as to instantly suffocate the flames. The beams push, but without any residual heat.

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    That's neat. When did that happen?
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 17, 2016 at 23:30
  • @DCShannon I seem to recall it happening in the old X-Men cartoon series. He goes to visit the orphanage he used to live in and one of the kids has accidently set it on fire. He puts out the fire with his optic blasts. Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 7:15

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