In a way, we’ve already seen Justice League. The 2017 version still denoted Zack Snyder as the prime director despite Joss Whedon’s “tinkering.” But when you sit down to watch Snyder’s four-hour-long restored version, it is hard not to marvel at how two directors presented the same story and how one failed at it while the other enhanced it. But of all the things that have drastically improved in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it is Ray Fisher’s Cyborg who many believe steals the spotlight.
Was Ray Fisher’s disappointment and anger justified?
While watching Snyder’s version, it becomes transparent why actor Ray Fisher had been so vocal about his disappointment and disapproval of how Whedon had handled the story, specifically his parts in the film. In Whedon’s cut, Fisher’s Cyborg had been reduced to a wannabe superhero, who says “Booyah!” and is overconfident, often boastful, of his powers.
Snyder’s version restores Cyborg’s arc, as we don’t just get to see his origin story (which was entirely obliterated in the 2017 version) but also connect with him. As Zack Snyder had said in recent interviews, Cyborg indeed is the heart of Justice League, the rightful hero who trumps his pain to save the world. But he is not merely Cyborg- via a couple of flashback scenes we get to meet him before he was not a machine but a student, Victor Stone, at Gotham University. He was a brilliant mind with a big heart who helped those in need without fear of the consequences. He was clever and also an impressive football player.&
Cyborg’s tragic origin story
While his father, Silas, was always busy in the lab, engrossed in the third Mother Box his lab had gotten to conduct experiments on, it was his mother that supported him and stood by him. His relationship with his father was strained at best as Silas barely had time for his family. Despite an equally demanding career, his mother was always there for him and made it to every one of his football games, cheering him on as he wins.
In Snyder’s Justice League, we get to know that the biggest tragedy of Victor’s life isn’t just losing his body- it is not the only reason for which he hates his father. In a flashback, we get to know that one day, while he and his mother were returning from his football game and once again arguing about his father’s continued absence, they met with an accident. While his mother died instantly, the crash destroyed most of Victor’s body, leaving him on the verge of death.
But Silas, already guilt-ridden and broken after his wife’s death, wasn’t ready to lose his son and thus he did the unthinkable- he awoke the Mother Box and used its alien technology to give Victor a body, a chance to survive. In Whedon’s Cut, we saw a rather tamed version of the transformation but in 2021’s Justice League, Victor changing into Cyborg is a heart-wrenching scene.
Victor’s relatable journey of self-acceptance
While his father thought he was saving his son, Victor blamed him for dooming him to a life of a monster. Unlike Whedon’s version, here, he is not over-confident with his powers or uses them to scare his father. Snyder’s Victor is uncertain about how to lead a normal life, forget using his powers like a pro from the get-go. But the biggest thing he blames his father for is not being there as he believes that had he been there that night of the accident, his mother would have survived.
But still, it is his father’s words that prompt him to embrace his powers and use them for good. While here too, Victor is spurred to join Bruce when his father is kidnapped by Steppenwolf in search of the third Mother Box, even Silas’ role just doesn’t end here, he serves as the last key that pushes his son into accepting and embracing his true destiny, to dismantle his notion that he is not broken.
The team decides to wake up the Mother Box they have to bring back Superman as they need him to defeat the alien forces. While they succeed, the awakened box acts like a beacon to Steppenwolf who comes sniffing and there is no stopping him. So, to ensure that the Justice League can find the box once it’s gone, Silas uses a massive laser beam to heat up the Mother Box so high that its heat signature would be trackable later. But in the process, he sacrifices himself, prompting Victor to continue his father’s mission. He decides to fuse with the Mother Boxes to separate them, despite knowing that he may not survive the ordeal.& If that doesn’t make him a true hero, we don’t know what does.
Snyder doesn’t waste the last half of the film with unnecessary arguments between Cyborg and Aquaman, the latter flirting with Wonder Woman, or the Flash being pointlessly skittish. Snyder has given every character infinitely better arcs but no one shines like Cyborg. While in the 2017 version, Cyborg merely fused with the boxes and then had Superman separate them, this time when he merges his consciousness with the Mother Boxes, they try to manipulate him by trying to play on his grief of losing his parents and his body.
His moment of true transformation comes when he trumps the temptation they offer and realizes that what he has lost can never return, but that doesn’t mean that he has lost everything or that he is alone. His story is the backbone of the story, his is the saga of losing and finding himself, of regaining his humanity even though he is almost a machine now.
Snyder didn’t just set him up as an engaging character with a potentially glorious future in the DCEU, he presented him as the inspiring symbol of hope, who still chooses to be a hero, chooses to save the world despite losing everything he ever loved. Zack Snyder’s Justice Leagueis currently streaming on TAvQBduxKOoAzz|HBO Max}.
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