Back in March 2017, Zack Snyder had stated that Cyborg’s “story is in a lot of the ways the heart of the movie.” Fast forward to November of that year, and much of Cyborg’s storyline and background didn’t make it into Joss Whedon’s theatrical cut. The release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League restores Cyborg’s arc as Snyder intended, and his journey is easily the most developed of the heroes.
Cyborg’s origin story includes flashbacks to his experience as a star football captain and his close relationship with his mother. We learn that not only is Victor Stone a young man equipped with intelligence, he’s one with a compassionate heart who tries to do the right thing by helping his friends. Tragedy strikes as Victor and his mother get in an accident while driving home and having a heated discussion regarding his father’s absence at his game. His mother dies, and Victor’s body is destroyed and he himself is near death. His father, Silas Stone, uses a Mother Box and its alien technology to save Victor’s life.
The already-complicated father and son relationship continues to deteriorate afterwards. Victor shifts blame towards his father; he believes his mother would have survived had Silas been there that night. We also see that losing his mother is not the only reason for his strained relationship with his father–Victor suffers a cruel irony due to Silas Stone’s actions. Although his father saved his life, Victor perceives his transformation to a techno-organic as a deprivation from a normal life and mourns his loss of humanity. In the film, we see that there is a grave where he is seemingly buried alongside his mother, indicating the loss of Victor Stone as a person. He has lost his human body and he feels alienated from the world, despite his enhancements allowing him to connect to the entire world with a simple thought.
Cyborg’s struggle to accept his physical transformation is demonstrated in the scenes when he integrates with the Mother Box. During the scene when he is exploring his abilities as Silas’ voiceover encourages his son to embrace his gifts or when Cyborg explains to the League how he came upon the box, Victor is always shown in his human form, wearing his varsity football jacket. He longs to be that person again, that confident young athlete who seemed to be on top of the world and loved by others. That person who he identifies as has been stripped away from him, but he yearns to return to the promise of that life.
Over the course of the film, we see Victor’s relationship with his father evolve. Silas’ words prompt Victor to explore his powers, but it’s his father’s kidnapping that nudges Victor to join the League and help out. Silas also nods his silent pride and approval of his son’s efforts as he and the rest of the heroes use the Mother Box to bring Superman to life. But it’s Silas’ sacrifice that ignites Victor’s decision to fuse with the Mother Boxes to prevent The Unity, despite the Justice League’s protests that he may be killed in the process. Cyborg is adamant that he should stream into the Boxes, arguing that he has nothing left in the world.
Once Cyborg is able to merge his consciousness with the Mother Boxes, he is his human form and wearing the varsity jacket. They try to manipulate him as images of his parents and himself, using his grief of losing his parents and his body against him. The camera pans behind the impersonated Stone family, blocking the view of the actual Victor. However, as he comes into view again, we see him now as Cyborg, signifying his full self-acceptance and transformation before directly facing the fake Victor and declaring, “I’m not broken. And I’m not alone.” He begins to separate the Boxes while his team members–his friends–come into view.
Cyborg’s ability to resist the Mother Boxes’ temptation displays his realization that although he can never return to his previous life, it does not mean that he has nothing left or no one that cares. Although he is mostly a machine, he maintains his humanity by doing the right thing. Despite losing everything and everyone he has known to love, Cyborg chooses to help others and save the world like the hero he is meant to be. It’s an emotionally engaging and relatable arc that cements Zack Snyder’s words and brings a compelling character that can’t help but make you feel proud to root for.