For DC's Cinematic Cyborg, Where Does The Man End And The Machine Begin In The Justice League Trailer?

By Hilton Collins

In the intriguing Justice League teaser that dropped last Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con, most of the DC heroes looked like they were ready to loosen up and have fun on the big screen.

But interestingly, Cyborg looked like he wasn't happy to be at the party.

We see Cyborg, as played by Ray Fisher, at three different points in the trailer, and each time, he seems sad-faced or depressed. On the one hand, it could have absolutely no bearing on how Cyborg will be written or portrayed in the final film — after all, it's only three short clips from a longer movie — and there's presumably much more footage to come that will show different sides of his personality.

But if Cyborg does indeed turn out to be an emotionally muted or just plain unhappy person in the Justice League film, it would make sense given the character's tragic history and unfortunate physical situation. Cyborg has to deal with things that no other character in this incarnation of the League has to deal with, so it's understandable if he'd be a bit of a sourpuss.

Cyborg's origin has had a few tweaks and changes over the years, but his most recent origin story goes like this: Victor Stone is a talented college football player with a scientist father, Silas, who doesn't bother to show up to his son's games. The two argue about Silas's distance on many occasions. One of these arguments takes place in Silas' lab where the elder Stone is experimenting on a mother box; a device from an alien world called Apokolips that has advanced technological capabilities. There's an explosion in the lab that savages Victor's body, so Silas and other scientists save him by attaching cybernetic parts. The machinery incorporates mother box technology, so Victor's new superpowered body links him to Apokolips. Victor eventually joins the Justice League under the codename Cyborg during their first battle with Darkseid, Apokolips's evil ruler, and becomes a superhero.

Losing most of his physical body is certain to make any man feel a little depressed. And in the world of dramatic storytelling, it opens up narrative possibilities where writers can have such a character question his humanity and even become more machine-like and less human. The whole "am I a man and do I have a soul?" sort of thing. We saw that a lot in the classic RoboCop films, and we could be seeing it again with Cyborg in the current wave of DC Films. If so, this could explain why Cyborg seems so stiff in the Justice League footage. Perhaps being part machine, or more machine than man, causes him not to feel emotions the way he would if he were fully flesh and blood.

In his first clip, he's fully human and walking down a street in his football jacket, but his face looks solemn, like he's either sad or just deep in thought, perhaps a result of his stressful, strained relationship with his father before the accident. In his next two appearances he's in Cyborg mode, complete with a CGI cybernetic body, and he looks pretty cool. But his face seems sour, almost like he's scowling. Upon closer inspection, it's not really scowling; his mouth is just in a stiff line, which could mean that he's either feeling down, or he's not feeling anything that would make him exhibit any kind of emotion whatsoever.

But I digress.

This is just the first of many trailers to come, and it's not even a reliable indicator of what the final movie will be like, much less Cyborg's part in it. The trailer editor could've just selected the most emotionless footage available to create a certain tone, and there could be many scenes of a more colorful Cyborg that we haven't seen yet.

Justice League comes to theaters on November 17th, 2017.