The Ultimate Marvel Universe was a wild timeline, introducing plenty of unexpected twists on classic concepts. Even transforming numerous heroes into entirely new forms or variations of each other, such as when the ultimate Wolverine became the timeline’s version of Cable.
A similar storyline played out for the Ultimate Universe version of the X-Men’s Cyclops, who in one dark potential future survived the events of Ultimatum. Rather than taking his survival in stride, he instead chose to go down the wrong path and became a lethal version of Captain America.
How Ultimate Cyclops Became Captain America
Introduced in Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four Annual #1 (by Aron Coleite, Joe Pokaski, Dan Panosian, Mark Brooks, Danny Miki, Troy Hubbs, John Rauch, Antonio Fabela, and Albert Deschesne), Earth-81122 played out similar to the Ultimate Universe until the events of Ultimatum. In both worlds, the event was a massive and lethal event, killing plenty of heroes in brutal ways. One of the casualties was the Human Torch in this timeline, a loss that ended up driving Susan Storm down a particularly dark path. Blaming mutants for the loss of her life that included her brother, Sue was able to convince Reed to fully invest his attention in developing means to depower people, known as the Promise.
When the X-Men and the Ultimates went to confront Sue over the device, it was activated — resulting in Sue, Thing, Reed, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Captain America losing their powers. Almost instantly, Captain America changed to his genuine age — dying suddenly. Jean was captured and seemingly executed, while the depowered Cyclops escaped. The X-Men were quickly forced on the run as Sue increasingly spread her influence on the planet. Coming to a similar conclusion about Wolverine as the Earth-616 Beast in the Krakoa Era, Sue crafted a new line of Sentinels based on Logan, and used them to hunt down anyone who remained in her way. To combat her and honor his fallen allies, Cyclops became Captain America — but also gained a more brutal edge, becoming quick to enact lethal measures if it meant victory.
What Happened to Marvel Ultimate’s Cyclops?
Alongside his teammates Wolverine, Rogue, Shadowcat and Phoenix (in this timeline a grown Franklin Richards), Captain America ventured back in time into the Ultimate Universe to kill Mr. Fantastic before he could construct the device, in the first place. But it turns out their Wolverine was actually being held prisoner by Sue and had been replaced with a Sentinel doubling as him. Along with a squadron of other Wolverine Sentinels sent into the past, the future X-Men were largely wiped out — with Captain America only surviving long enough to meet the Ultimate Universe Jean Grey before dying in her arms.
This could be seen as a tragic twist on both Cyclops and Captain America, typically two of Marvel’s most dedicated heroes. A Captain America willing to kill others for the sake of his own plans would likely fly in the face of the dedicated morality that usually defines Steve Rogers. A depowered Cyclops being willing to kill those who get in his way is a great contrast to the more traditionally heroic mutant leader who fights for a world that hates and fears him. The Earth-81122 Captain America is a betrayal of two heroic identities and highlights how easily some of Marvel’s most consistent heroes can become corrupted by the world at large.