Who Is Cyborg, The Robotic Hero Of ‘Justice League’?

Among the protagonists of Justice League there’s an addition to the lineup made famous by Superfriends: Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. Sure, Teen Titans Go! fans and comics readers know who he is, but casual superhero moviegoers might not be sure. For your edification, a short primer on the Justice League hero.

Cyborg dates back to 1980. Writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, who’d each recently jumped ship from Marvel, wanted to revive Teen Titans, a book about kid sidekicks of superheroes that began in the 1960s. But with a twist: the Titans would no longer be young teens but characters on the verge of adulthood ready to strike out away from their mentors and stand on their own. It was a chance to update the concept, and also to bring new heroes into the mix. That’s where Victor Stone comes in.

In the comics, Stone, the son of roboticists Silas and Elinore Stone, doesn’t quite fit in with his family, preferring sports and earning a football scholarship to messing around in the lab. After a horrific accident leaves Vic missing an eye and several limbs, his parents use him as a guinea pig to rebuild his body with cybernetics, giving him not just his limbs and his eyes back but full-on superpowers and a computer with which his mind can interface directly. Think a cross between Superman, a hacker, and Inspector Gadget. The trade-off: Victor is obviously a cyborg. There’s no way to hide his scars, mechanical limbs, or giant red eye. In fact, he stumbles over the Titans not by saving a bus full of kids or stopping a mugging, but because he’s looking for a support group and they’re the only ones who get him.

That’s been Vic’s struggle ever since. Unfortunately, your life just gets weirder when you’re a superhero. Among the many strange things that have happened to him: He died, but had his mind saved by a race of creatures spawned by a sentient planet sexually assaulting Swamp Thing (yes, that happened). His subconscious tried to hunt down and “save” his friends before his mind was restored and put into a robot. Then his body was cloned and he was back to his old self, just in time for his former teammate Jericho to hijack his body and try to kill all the Titans, and for a killer hunting Jericho to shoot him in the face. He wakes up from his coma just in time to discover his very body has been knocked off and sold to the military.

Fortunately, it hasn’t been all trials for Cyborg. In 2011, as part of DC’s reboot of its superhero universe, he officially became a member of the Justice League after years as a support member. That was also when his origin was given a new spin; instead of a random accident, Vic is severely injured after a fight with his father Silas, when the Mother Box Silas has been probing explodes. Silas breaks into the “Red Room,” one of the most highly guarded vaults of dangerous technology in the DC universe, to rebuild Vic. As a result, his cybernetic parts come from all over the DC universe, involving everything from supervillains like Amazo to the device that gives The Atom his shrinking powers.

The result is that Vic has been a hero a dozen times over, but he’s ambivalent about what it cost him. That he’s ultimately just making the best of the hand he’s been dealt has helped make him a fan favorite. That his hand happens to include hanging out with Batman is cool, but he can never just go to Starbucks for a coffee and read a book on a slow day. That gives Fisher, and, for that matter, Joe Morton’s Silas Stone, a lot to chew over for Justice League, and the solo Cyborg movie Fisher may be making a few years from now.