Animation DC Comics Movies Television

The Many Faces of Cyborg

Last night, the internet lit up with the news of yet another JLAer being added to the so-called Man of Steel sequel. Broadway star Ray Fisher has officially been cast to play Victor Stone (aka Cyborg) in the upcoming superhero epic, leading most fans to think “why doesn’t Warner Brothers just call this movie Justice League already?”

Cyborg was originally created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in a 1980 issue of DC Comics Presents. In the last several years, however, the character of Cyborg has seen somewhat of a rejuvenation in the DC multimedia landscape. A founding member of the Teen Titans in the comics, Cyborg has been a core component of several of DC’s animated enterprises and was promoted to mainstream status during the company-wide New 52 reboot in 2011. But his inclusion in a film as big as this one will be the biggest boost to the character’s profile yet.

The addition of Cyborg shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. Last year, in the run up to the Man of Steel blu-ray release, Superman himself telegraphed Cyborg’s inclusion in their DC Cinematic Universe.

And earlier this year, there were several reports of director Zack Snyder seeking a young and physically fit African American actor for a small role in the upcoming sequel that would be expanded in future installments. I guess Fisher turned out to be the actor he was looking for.

While Cyborg’s inclusion in Man of Steel 2 is big news, it won’t actually be the first time Victor Stone has been portrayed in live action. In 2006, the late Lee Thompson Young portrayed Cyborg in the eponymous fifth season episode of The CW’s Smallville.

Cyborg’s Smallville look as conceived by Andy Poon. Chances are WB will have significantly more resources for costumes in its $200million+ budget.

Cyborg would go on to be a recurring character, returning in subsequent seasons throughout the series run. Aside from Young and Fisher, though, Cyborg’s multimedia presence has largely been in the animated realm. His earliest animated depiction was in the mid-80s incarnation of the Super Friends called Galactic Guardians. 

While Guardians only lasted one season, it was basically the ninth and final season of Super Friends. On the show, Cyborg was portrayed by none other than Winston Zeddemore himself, Ernie Hudson!

It wasn’t until the turn of the century that Cyborg truly became a household name for non-comics readers. In 2003, Teen Titans simultaneously debuted on Cartoon Network and Kids WB to much fanfare and became an instant hit, introducing the Titans and Cyborg — voiced by actor Khary Payton — to a whole new generation. The show lasted for five seasons and even had a spinoff movie called Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. Titans was arguably DC’s most successful, non-Timmverse related animated series, having spawned a 55-issue kid-friendly comic run, a line of toys by Bandai, and a decade’s worth of cosplay. Last year, Cartoon Network even brought the show back, though it’s been retooled as Teen Titans Go!, a more comedic take on the team as opposed to the action and adventure-oriented original run.

Really, other than the costume designs, theme song, and voice talent, this new version of Teen Titans is completely different from the 2003-06 series.

As stated earlier, Cyborg has been a fixture in Warner Home Video’s direct-to-DVD animated DC movies. He’s appeared and had prominent roles in Justice League: Crisis on Two EarthsJustice League: Flashpoint Paradox (where he was voiced by future Human Torch Michael B. Jordan), Justice League: Doom, Justice League: War, and JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time. Basically, if it’s an animated movie with the words “Justice” or “League” anywhere in the title, chances are Cyborg will be in it.

Shemar Moore as Cyborg in Justice League: War.

Which brings me back to Ray Fisher and his inclusion in the movie no one believes will be called Batman Vs. Superman. As if it wasn’t already feeling a little overstuffed, bringing yet another Leaguer seems a little… worrisome? I have no idea how Snyder plans to service everything that needs to be serviced in this movie. Remember, it’s still the sequel to Man of Steel, so the events of that flick kind of have to be addressed. At the same time, it has to introduce an already established Batman — here’s an idea I presented a few months back — as well as introductions to a Wonder Woman and a Cyborg that are more than just glorified cameos. And who knows how many more superheroes are yet to be announced?

Guess we’ll find out on May 6, 2016. Or make that May 7 because I’ll probably be seeing Captain America 3 on the 6th anyway.

3 comments

  1. One of DCs greatest animated shows of all time. Each character is well fleshed out, fantastically performed by each voice actor (Khary and Greg being my two favorites), and the humor and action are just spot on.

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