Well, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice happened, and the question I was asked most often by friends who hadn't tossed away their youth on a dying art form was: Who was that guy?
You know, the dude who was missing major chunks of his body in the third promo video Wonder Woman watched after The Flash and Aquaman's respective teasers. That, dear readers, was Cyborg. Since so many viewers had trouble identifying him, I decided to do this little article introducing him, his supporting characters, his villains, and what you MIGHT be able to expect from Cyborg in future installments of DCEU films. I liked the idea so much, in fact, that I plan on doing a whole series introducing members of my favorite superhero team of all time (...The Justice League... if that wasn't already obvious).
Just a few things before we begin. First, this will probably be the most challenging of The Justice League member articles that I will write. Cyborg is a younger hero than most of his fellow leaguers as he debuted in 1980 as opposed to, say, 1938. He also, shamefully, didn't get his own solo comic series until literally last year. Most of his life and identity has been played out and fleshed out in team books (first the Teen Titans and then in the Justice League). As a result, I really had to do my homework for this post, and if, at times, it seems like I'm reaching it's because I am. Also, DC Comics has a habit of restarting it's collective universe from scratch over and over again in order to keep things fresh and new. This has proven to be good for business but it's pretty damn confusing. Luckily, in Cyborg's case, I only really need to discuss two different DC timelines which I will refer to as Pre-Flashpoint (1980-2011) and Post-Flashpoint (2011-present). There are those of you who will point out that Crisis on Infinite Earths happened in the middle of my Pre-Flashpoint timeline and that DC is currently going through another universe reboot called Rebirth, but neither are relevant to anything I'm about to write (so shut up about it). Anyway, without further ado, here's Cyborg:
Created By: Marv Wolfman and George Perez
First Appearance: DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980)
Portrayed By: Ray Fisher
This is Victor Stone:
In the Post-Flashpoint universe, he was a promising, young high school football player whose father was a top research scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs. Due to his work experimenting with alien technology, Silas Stone rarely had time for his son, and almost always missed his football games :,(. One, fateful day, Vic marched into his father's laboratory to confront him over jeopardizing his chances to land a football scholarship. His father happened to be studying a Mother Box which is an alien super computer used by The New Gods and, the god of evil, Darkseid. Immediately following the father-son confrontation, the Mother Box exploded killing many scientists and decimating poor Victor Stone's body. Silas, however, refused to let his son die. Working quickly with his fellow scientists, Silas rebuilt the damaged parts of Victor's body using alien technology, and powered his son's new robotic parts using Mother Box energy. This, essentially, turned Vic Stone into a... cyborg.
His Pre-Flashpoint origin is more or less the same except for a few details. First, in the Pre-Flashpoint universe, he was a collegiate track star who was training to make the Olympics and only dabbled in football. Also, he lost his limbs after being attacked by an alien that his father accidentally transported to Earth during an experiment. The same alien also killed his mother in the attack. Finally, the original origin story didn't involve a Mother Box in any capacity, but everything else is more or less the same.
Personality and Motivations:
As with any superhero, you have to eventually ask the question: Why does he risk his life time and time again fighting super-villains and braving catastrophes? Cyborg seems to be motivated by two things: anger and loneliness. Let's start with the anger. After waking up and realizing that much of his body was now machine, Victor had a lot of hard truths to swallow. The first of which was that he could no longer play sports. He was now capable of things that no human athlete could hope to compete with, so people would never allow him to compete. For a young man who dreamed of being a professional athlete all his life, this really pissed Victor off.
Mix that in with the fact that he was no longer completely human, that he just lost his mother (in the Pre-Flashpoint universe), and that it was all thanks to his father's scientific curiosity, and you can see why Cyborg has a lot to be upset about. Most of his anger was directed toward his father which caused a long standing rift between the two for quite some time. Yet, most of us don't haul off and beat the garbage out of our dads, so Vic settled for taking his rage out on super-villains and alien invaders. Regardless, anger became a defining character trait for Cyborg in the Pre-Flashpoint DC Universe (yes, an angry, young black man... great job, 1980's DC...), but his character has mellowed out quite a bit in the Post-Flashpoint universe substituting despair for the rage he once possessed.
His second motivation is probably the cause for this despair: His loneliness. Becoming a Cyborg made him a walking freak. People would avoid him on the streets and even his girlfriend refused to take his calls. This must be especially hard for an athlete who is used to working with others to achieve a collective goal. That's what made Cyborg a great team player for both the Teen Titans Pre-Flashpoint and the Justice League Post-Flashpoint. He found somewhere to belong with other extraordinary freaks like him and something worthy to do with them: Saving the world. That's more than enough to keep him fighting.
Powers and Abilities:
The fact that he's mostly machine gives Cyborg a varied and adaptable power set that just keeps expanding as real-world technology advances. In the '80's he had to plug himself in to communicate with computers, but now he has Wi-Fi, baby! Seriously, though, he's a walking computer that can create and run his own programs as well as interface with other computers and the Internet. His metal parts give him your basic power set of super-strength, super-speed, and near invulnerability. These parts are also interchangeable and allow him to be fitted with things like jet-packs, rocket launchers, laser cannons, machine guns, and so much more. However, he does have a favorite weapon:
He really loves that white sound blaster.... so I'd be shocked if we didn't see it in one of the movies. Since he was powered by Mother Box energy, he can also access Boom Tubes which are, basically, teleportation portals that can transport him and his friends across great distances in an instant. Basically, Cyborg is only limited by the power of technology both real and imagined....Which is a cute way of saying there are no limits.
Though I did say that Cyborg was near invulnerable, neither his human parts nor his machine parts completely are. His metal body can be broken by a strong enough force, and his human parts are still especially squishy. He can be killed. His robotic body is also vulnerable to EMP pulses that can shut him down, and the fact that he's a walking computer makes him a target for computer viruses and malware (imagine what infinite pop-up windows could do to your brain). Finally, his human emotions can often act against him. In the Pre-Flashpoint universe, his rage would often make him leap into trouble before thinking things through. In the Post-Flashpoint universe, the fear of losing what remains of his humanity sometimes holds him back. Just like the rest of us, he's a slave to the feels...
Key Supporting Characters:
Cyborg's father, as should be obvious by now, is a key figure in his son's story. Silas spends a good deal of time and resources trying to mend fences with his estranged son and make up for the mistakes of his past by supporting Cyborg's super-heroic endeavors. He invents and builds much of the technology that makes up Victor's arsenal, and finds ways to incorporate alien tech into his son's repertoire. In the Pre-Flashpoint universe, he even has Titans Tower created for Cyborg and his friends. Despite all this, there's usually a rift between Silas and Victor stemming from the life and humanity Cyborg lost because of his father. Of course, because of his father, Victor is now a superhero who gets to hang out with the likes of Starfire, Raven, and Wonder Woman on a regular basis instead of having a, maybe, five to six year career that ends with a torn ACL and spending a lifetime chasing Roger Goodell for health benefits, and some of us would kill to live the life he just kind of lucked into... but, whatever, be mad at your father... fine. Anyway, we've already seen Silas in the same Batman V Superman clip that introduced Cyborg, and, if recent Justice League film rumors are true, we'll be seeing a whole lot more of him.
Cyborg has had his fair share of love interests over the years, but Dr. Sarah Charles is the one who seems to stick around. In the Pre-Flashpoint universe, she was S.T.A.R. Labs' physical therapist. In the Post-Flashpoint universe, she's a S.T.A.R. scientist. In both, she is brave, determined, and doesn't cut Victor any slack. If Cyborg's proposed 2020 solo film has a love interest, my money is on Sarah Charles being it.
You know how I said there would be points where I was reaching? Well, we've reached the first! Billy Batson is a pre-teen orphan who can turn into a full-grown superhero by saying the word: "SHAZAM." Being the two youngest members of the Post-Flashpoint Justice League, Shazam and Cyborg strike up a friendship which is quickly becoming one of the best bromances in DC Universe history. I won't say too much more about the artist formerly known as Captain Marvel since I'm likely going to do an entire article dedicated to him. Since Shazam has a solo film scheduled to come out in 2019, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that we could see their friendship play out on the big screen.
Earlier, I said that Cyborg was vulnerable to computer viruses and malware. Grid is one of the worst case scenarios of this. Grid was an information gathering program that Cyborg created himself. Unfortunately, Grid worked too well... The program eventually gained sentience and decided it didn't need Victor anymore. In the 2013-14 crossover event Forever Evil, Grid took control of Cyborg's robot body and separated Victor from it, nearly killing him. In my opinion, this makes Grid as close to an arch-nemesis as Cyborg has ever had.
These goons are the first threat that Cyborg had to dispatch in his solo series. The Technosapiens are a techno-virus from another dimension that infect people, control their minds, and turn them into grotesque monsters. Think cyborg-zombies. They hunt Cyborg and his father for technology, and I could easily see them being the threat in Cyborg's solo movie.
Now for another big reach. The famed mercenary and assassin, Deathstroke, is probably more well-known for his feuds with Dick Grayson and Green Arrow. However, Deathstroke was the main nemesis of the Teen Titans back when Cyborg was a key member. The man who uses 90% of his brain blamed the Titans for his son's death and vowed to take revenge. Considering that Deathstroke is a popular, well-known villain and that he was recently removed from The Arrow TV series to likely make way for a film appearance, it's possible Warner Brothers could tap him as the main villain in Cyborg's solo film. Though, admittedly, I think you're more likely to see him in The Suicide Squad.
1) Justice League (2011) #1-6- This storyline gives you Cyborg's Post-Flashpoint origin story as well as the first adventure of the Post-Flashpoint Justice League. If you want a sneak peak into what the plot of the Justice League film will probably be like, this is the story to check out.
2) Cyborg #1-6- Herein lies the beginning of Cyborg's solo series and the Technosapiens saga. This is a good example of a modern portrayal of Cyborg and shows you how he can operate without a team to back him up.
3) Tales of the Teen Titans #57- This story has Cyborg trying to look normal and quit the superhero game with new, plastic body parts. Instead, he has to go up against The Fearsome Five all alone with no super powers. Vic shows you what he's made of in this one, and it has the introduction of his love interest Sarah Charles.
Top Moments as a Justice Leaguer:
3) Justice League of America (2006) #41- This was Cyborg's Pre-Flashpoint induction into the Justice League. He finally joined the team along with fellow former Teen Titans: Donna Troy, Starfire, and Dick Grayson (filling in for the presumed-dead Batman). This story happened shortly before Flashpoint rebooted the DC Universe, so he wasn't a member of this version of the team for long. However, it's a milestone simply because it's the first time Cyborg became one of the world's greatest superheroes.
2) Throne of Atlantis- It's kind of a Justice League tradition that a new member is given an adventure where he or she rescues the rest of the team to prove his or her worth to the fans. Arguably, this is that moment for Cyborg. During the war between Atlantis and the dry land, Cyborg has to choose between saving his friends and giving up part of his humanity. He doesn't hesitate when the time comes.
1) Forever Evil- And if Throne of Atlantis wasn't that moment, Forever Evil definitely is. After nearly being killed by Grid, Cyborg recovers to be the lone Justice Leaguer against a world of unrestrained super-villains and the Crime Syndicate of America. Vic is more than up to the challenge as he rallies help to free his teammates and save the world. This adventure also contains a retelling of the origin of the Metal Men that is surprisingly emotional. This is definitely the highlight of Cyborg's Justice League career to date.
Other Live Action Versions:
If reading isn't your thing (and at this point, that would puzzle me since this hasn't been a short post), there is one other live-action version of Cyborg to date aside from his brief appearance in Dawn of Justice. Cyborg appeared in the young Superman TV series Smallville played by Lee Thompson Young. The character debuted in Season 5, Episode 15 which was appropriately titled "Cyborg." He was also a member of Smallville's version of the Justice League that first appeared in Season 6, Episode 11. He made a couple of random appearances after that, but remained a fan favorite. If you're not into Smallville then you'll just have to wait until the Justice League movie next year. Cyborg is being played by Ray Fisher who, apparently, went to college with my brother's girlfriend (and that practically makes me a Titan as far as I'm concerned). I'm hoping Fisher does Cyborg "justice" ;).
Alright, that's it. There's your introduction to Cyborg and the people around him. Special thanks to the DC Wiki and the Smallville Wiki for their images and info. In my next installment of Getting to Know the Justice League, I will introduce (God help me) Aquaman. Look for that within the next week. I plan on being more active with my page here, so I'll see you soon... Thanks for reading!