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Dr. Ryan Choi is a hero in hiding in Zack Snyder’s Justice League

He’s a big reference to one of DC Comics’ tiniest heroes

It’s no secret that the Snyder Cut of Justice League contains more DC Comics characters than the theatrical release. Zack Snyder himself shared an image of actor Zheng Kai in the role of Ryan Choi in May of 2020, shortly after HBO Max announced that it would produce Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Then, this week, the official Snyder Cut Twitter account shared a mock permission slip for fans to “use” to get a day off to watch the four hour streaming event. It was signed by none other than Dr. Ryan Choi.

In the Snyder Cut itself, Ryan Choi is a Star Labs researcher. But who is he in DC Comics?

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for the Zack Snyder’s Justice League.]

Ryan Choi is in Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Kai filmed several scenes as Ryan Choi that were cut from the theatrical version of Justice League, and have been restored in the Snyder Cut. In most of them, he serves as a foil to Silas Stone, Cyborg’s distant scientist father. But in a final scene, he reveals his own particular research specialty: nanotechnology.

This makes sense, because...

Ryan Choi is the DC Comics superhero the Atom

Ryan Choi, in his blue and red Atom suit with size-changing belt, in a micro world full of bacteria, on the cover of Justice League of America: The Atom Rebirth #1, DC Comics (2021). Image: Andy MacDonald, John Rauch/DC Comics

Created by Gail Simone (Wonder Woman, Secret Six, Deadpool), Ryan Choi is one in a line of characters who’ve taken on the moniker of the Atom, the DC Universe’s resident shrinky hero.

(The very first Atom was actually just a short guy who was really strong, but he’s not really germane to our discussion of Ryan.)

In comics, Choi is a protege of Ray Palmer — whom you might know from various Arrowverse shows where he is played by Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) — and was close enough to his mentor that Palmer passed on his size-changing belt to Choi.

Sounds a lot like Ant-Man, you might say, but the shrinky version of Atom actually predates the shrinky Marvel superhero by a year. Atom stories are also usually a lot weirder than Ant-Man stories, with a much higher concentration of stories about teeny tiny civilizations that exist in the space between atoms. After all, atoms are a lot smaller than ants.

That would be ripe material for a sequel, but WB has not announced any Ryan Choi-based projects, and there’s no indication that Zack Snyder will return to continue telling stories with his Justice League. But Ryan Choi fans can still enjoy his appearances in the Snyder Cut and the Arrowverse, where he was played by Osric Chau in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover.