Scott Summers' optic blasts are a discharge of powerful energy beams, they travel at the speed of light in the direction he is looking.

How can he miss someone or something if his beam is hitting whatever he's looking at? They would have to move faster than it takes for light to travel from his eyes. Since according to wikipedia his range would be around 2000 ft., the longest it would take his blast to hit anything would be around 2 microseconds.

Not every mutant has super speed or reflexes, so how could Cyclops miss anyone or any target?

Cyclops misses a student Cyclops misses Wolverine

  • 5
    From where did you get that Optic Blasts travel at speed of light?
    – user931
    Jun 1, 2012 at 0:56
  • 1
    It has appearance of red light.. It's not red light. In fact, It's beam of gravitons.. That's why it applies heavy force without heat.
    – user931
    Jun 1, 2012 at 1:49
  • 6
    Gravitons are massless, which would mean they would move at the speed of light. Jun 1, 2012 at 1:59
  • 1
    Great question! Jun 1, 2012 at 19:00
  • 1
    @PaulD.Waite I'm a couple years too late, but that page is X-Men Schism #5, Page 3.
    – Omegacron
    Jun 29, 2015 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


Don't have a canon answer, but prior to shooting speed-of-light beam, he needs to aim and fire which is a biomechanical process limited by (1) Signal propagation in nervous system and (2) Muscle-driven movement of head/neck/eyes.

Due to #2 (which likely overshadows #1), an alert adversary can read his body language, prepare for the blast and move away if they have very good/fast visual perception and coordination and reaction speed.

  • 6
    Exactly, and remember, we humans actually live something like 40 milliseconds in the past.
    – DampeS8N
    Jun 1, 2012 at 0:59
  • 1
    Even more: the time between light entering your eyes and you registering the image is between 100 and 200 milliseconds. Our brain plays a spectacular trick so that we don't notice it, effectively lying to us about when information came in so we don't notice the lag, but it's there all the time. Add in the time required to actually move your head to the leading point and, against other superpowered beings, missing is quite easy. This is a major part of why physical training makes you better; your brain has to learn how to deal with how lag affects things. Jun 1, 2012 at 14:01
  • 3
    Additionally, Cyclops's beam isn't simply directed at whatever he is looking at, it is directed orthogonally out from the plane of his visor. Cyclops has to move his head and neck to aim, which is significantly slower than moving his eyes.
    – GetSet
    Jun 1, 2012 at 16:14
  • 1
    @GetSet Do you know if that's caused by the visor, or is the beam's direction always perpendicular to his face?
    – Izkata
    Jun 2, 2012 at 1:29
  • Well, in the movies, the visor is used to angle Cyclops's beam away from Jean when they are tied up in the Statue of Liberty (which wasn't orthogonal, it acted as though it was bent like light through a lens). But you're right, in the comics, it could be that it's actually related to his face. In either case, it's not where his eyes are directed.
    – GetSet
    Jun 5, 2012 at 20:11

Cyclops can miss using his optic blast the same way a shooter can miss using a gun. Using his powers is a skill that required training. Not to mention the fact he cannot direct the beam with his actual eyes, he must turn his head and direct the beam using his visor controls.

  • In his early career, he could not control the intensity of his optic blast, it was an all or nothing affair. Without his visor, his power was explosive and nearly uncontrollable. Here is a sample of what his power is like, without his visor:

enter image description here

  • He could not direct the beam with his eyes, it was merely available when he opened them. It is the use of the ruby quartz visor that releases the force from his eyes, he does not target with them.
  • The beam is targeted by lifting or turning his head, and the width of the visor's emitter array.
  • Over time, he has learned to control the intensity of the beam but it is still a torrent of energy. He can use his level of control to allow a beam as tiny as a pencil to be emitted and can control the damage capacity well enough to shoot a game of pool using only his optic blast.

enter image description here

All of this training allows him to be able to utilize his optic blast under stressful conditions and to regulate the flow of energy he is able to emit. Without monitoring that control and thus not instantaneously emitting energy as soon as he opens his eyes, the blast has the potential to miss targets. Considering the damage potential his uncontrolled vision is capable of producing, Cyclops has always made every effort to temper his use of his power.

enter image description here

Targets of his power, can learn to predict how the blast will move, based on the position of his head, neck and the delay of the emission of the blast. He has made that more difficult by learning to bounce his blast from multiple surfaces, making it harder to predict his attack. But like shooting a weapon, he must still aim, prepare, release and control the energy put out by his optic blast.

While it is a great power, targeted literally by looking, there is still more to the dynamic and use of said power. It's not only about how fast the weapon is but how well aimed.

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.