Cyborg's Justice League Origin Was A Nod To Zack Snyder's Watchmen

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" probably had the most turbulent production history out of any comic book film from the past decade. The alternate cut of 2017's "Justice League" is now infamous for the campaign surrounding its release, with fervent fans demanding that director Zack Snyder get a chance to execute his creative vision. A few years and a few Twitter bots later, the elusive alternate version of the film referred to as "The Snyder Cut" finally made its way to the HBO Max streaming service.

Clocking in at over four and a half hours, Snyder's cut of "Justice League" was a behemoth, wildly differing from Whedon's reshot 2017 version that hit theaters. Among the most significant changes in the film was a larger focus on the character of Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher. Cyborg was made to be the heart of the movie, with a large piece of the extended runtime dedicated to his origin. In fact, Cyborg's origin in the film was reminiscent of another comic character that Snyder previously brought to the big screen.

A Manhattanite backstory

Zack Snyder sat down with Esquire in March 2021 to break down his cut of "Justice League," and when similarities between Cyborg and Dr. Manhattan from "Watchmen" came up, Snyder said:

"It was a bit intentional. That sequence where we learn about Cyborg's backstory is very Manhattanite. But I really love it, and I love that kind of storytelling where it's just a lot of lacing together of these images to tell a story without much dialogue — just a little bit of VO."

It's not hard to notice the similarities between the characters of Cyborg and Dr. Manhattan. The two tragic figures of their respective films become burdened with a power that they must learn to use. Both scenes are so similar in their structure because of how powerful both characters are, according to Snyder:

"I was happy to tell Cyborg's story that way, because if you really dig in, he's a giant character. He's got giant power. And that's kind of what that sequence is about: unrealized potential. Victor Stone speaks to all of us suffering from depression or self-doubt — we all have this massive untapped potential within us."

However, unlike Dr. Manhattan, Cyborg manages to hold onto his humanity while doing so.

Holding on to your humanity

Cyborg and Dr. Manhattan both have massive power, but Cyborg's origin story, as told in "Zack Snyder's Justice League," is a little more hopeful compared to Manhattan's in "Watchmen." While Dr. Manhattan is a character struggling to hold onto his humanity before finally moving on and leaving earth, Cyborg goes in the opposite direction. Victor Stone starts the film as someone detached from his old life and wanting to let go of his humanity. It isn't until the film's end that Victor realizes his potential as a hero and person, using that humanity to drive him. The character of Victor Stone paints a moving picture of loving and accepting yourself no matter what others say.

Cyborg's origin in "Zack Snyder's Justice League" followed a structure that was a nod to Snyder's previous work in "Watchmen," with more significant connotations regarding Snyder's body of work. If anything, this nod to "Watchmen" is also a message from Snyder about his intentions of making this specific story in the DCEU more hopeful than not only his previous work in "Watchmen" but also his more dour DCEU projects like "Batman v Superman." Though Snyder gives us another overpowered origin story, this time it has a glimmer of hope thanks to Cyborg.