(Spoilers ahead for “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” including references to a big story change from the theatrical cut involving Cyborg and his father)
Some of the biggest changes between the original theatrical cut of “Justice League” and “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” involved Cyborg, the robotic superhero played by Ray Fisher who was first introduced in this film. Since Cyborg didn’t get his own origin movie, they needed to cram his backstory into this movie.
While the two-hour theatrical cut barely bothers getting into that stuff, the four-hour Snyder Cut devotes a meaningful amount of his running time to new Cyborg-related stories, including several new scenes involving Silas Stone (Joe Morton), his father, who works at Star Labs studying the Kryptonian ship. And it’s in those scenes that we meet a major DC Comics superhero: Ryan Choi, played by Ryan Zheng.
The most significant difference for Cyborg in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is actually not just additional material, but a change to his story. In the theatrical cut, Silas Stone makes it out of the movie alive. But in the Snyder Cut, he’s killed by superheated lasers as he marks the Mother Box so the good guys can easily track it.
Silas’s death makes way for Ryan Choi to take over as director of nanotechnology at Star Labs. And that’s a big deal, because Ryan Choi is a DC Comics superhero, the fourth to take the name Atom.
In essence, the Atom is generally thought of as the DC version of Ant-Man, because he can make himself tiny or huge. And, like Ant-Man, he himself is not superpowered, but instead uses a piece of technology, the Bio-Belt, to do his thing. And like Ant-Man, if he makes himself subatomic he can explore the multiverse.
But Atom’s Bio-Belt has a quirk that Ant-Man’s suit does not: it can change his mass without changing his size. In other words, he could make himself weigh 10,000 pounds while still looking like he normally does.
Choi himself doesn’t have much in the way of comic book connections to Darkseid, but there’s one very relevant plot thread from “Final Crisis vol. 1 #7” in 2009.
“Final Crisis” is an apocalyptic story about, well, rebooting the universe, with Darkseid doing some rather crazy and cosmic stuff. It’s one of those stories where literally all of existence across the entire multiverse is at stake. In that story, Earth is collapsing, and Choi teams up with his Atom predecessor, Ray Palmer, to help evacuate people by tunneling to an alternate-universe version of Earth.
The multiverse would seem to have been in play in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” by the way, based on a comment Darkseid makes about hopping between universes in search of the Anti-Life Equation. Considering we got a glimpse at a time-traveling Flash in “Batman v Superman,” it’s a safe bet that Snyder had at least broad plans for the multiverse to be a big factor in the future of the franchise.
For now, though, Snyder’s broad plans for the DC movieverse may not be so relevant, as the director continually insists he’s done with DC after “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” and there’s been no indication from Warner Bros that the four-hour cut is anything more than a fun one-off.
But hey, they already hired Zheng to play Ryan Choi, so it’s certainly not implausible that he’ll pop up again somewhere. In the meantime, Zheng is in good company with Harry Lennix, who played Martian Manhunter — the other new hero in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” who may or may not have a future in DC movies.