Just when you thought the messy saga of Justice League couldn’t get any messier… This weekend past, Ray Fisher, the young actor who made his big-screen debut as Victor Stone aka Cyborg in the 2017 superhero blockbuster, set social media alight when he tweeted out that “I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement”.
The statement that Fisher is forcefully retracting was from a San Diego Comic-Con appearance right in the wake of original Justice League director Zack Snyder having to depart the film due to family tragedy. Before his departure, Warner Bros had already had the filmmaker make changes to his and Chris Terrio’s Justice League script in the wake of Batman v Superman’s mixed response and had brought in Avengers filmmaker Joss Whedon to steer the script away from Snyder’s darker tendencies. When Snyder had to leave the production completely, Whedon was put fully into the driver’s seat with a mandate to cut the film’s running time down to less than two-hours, including credits, and lighten the whole thing up. To do that, Whedon didn’t just cut out Snyder’s footage (some claim he only used 20% of what Snyder had shot already) but rewrote huge chunks of the scripts in very different ways.
To placate the fears of fans over this production turmoil, the cast did damage control at SDCC with Fisher, in particular, when asked about it by an audience member, telling everybody that Whedon “was a great guy” and Justice League was safe in his hands. So why did Fisher walk all of that back and toss Whedon under the bus now?
One of the biggest changes made by Whedon to Justice League was Cyborg’s story, which was supposed to play out very differently and was intended to be the central heart of the entire film. We were also supposed to spend a lot more time with Cyborg’s parents, and even be introduced to Ryan Choi aka The Atom, who would factor into the whole affair. What’s more, despite being snatched from relative obscurity on the theatre circuit, Fisher revealed that Snyder gave him a seat at the writer’s table to help shape Cyborg’s story himself. And then Whedon chopped out most of it.
With the long-fabled Snyder Cut of Justice League now finally coming to HBO Max next year, WB is allowing the filmmaker to complete his original vision for the film. And with that, it looked as if Fisher is now finally speaking his mind on how Cyborg’s story was butchered. On top of that, Justice League was supposed to be a huge launching pad for Fisher’s career, but after the dismal box office and critical response to the film, the actor has instead had to scramble to land a few minor roles here and there. So naturally, he was upset. This was the take that most took from the actor’s withdrawal of support for Whedon. But there was a lot more to this story.
Early yesterday morning, Fisher tweeted out this bombshell:
Fisher has not gone into any further details as to what Whedon did during the Justice League production that prompted this accusation, but now his drastic earlier tweet had a whole new context. And fans on social media were going nuts over it. Many supported and praised the relatively unknown Fisher for speaking out against an industry veteran like Whedon, making comparisons to Star Wars actor John Boyega’s impassioned #BlackLivesMatter speech in which he acknowledged that he was putting his career at risk but doing it anyway.
When Variety reached out to Whedon’s camp for a response, all the publication got was a “no comment”. Justice League producer Jon Berg, who was mentioned by Fisher directly, did respond though:
When reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon, Berg told Variety that it was “categorically untrue that we enabled any unprofessional behavior.”
“I remember [Fisher] being upset that we wanted him to say ‘Booyah!,’ which is a well known saying of Cyborg in the animated series,” Berg added.
Whether or not you side with Fisher here, you have to admit that Berg’s possible explanation of events is way on the weak side. A young actor like Fisher with so much to lose is not going to speak out like this and accuse a beloved filmmaker like Whedon of abuse over the word “Booyah!”. That’s just plain ridiculous.
Actor Alan Tudyk, who worked with Whedon on Firefly and more, did come out to defend Whedon’s character a lot better, but then walked his statement back later when it was pointed out that just because somebody treats you well, doesn’t mean he won’t treat somebody else poorly.
And there is unfortunately the fact that as much as people love Whedon’s contributions to TV and film, there’s actually precedent for Fisher’s accusations. In 2017, Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole, wrote a scathing blog post for The Wrap in which she alleged that despite his public persona as a feminist, Whedon was a “hypocrite” who had affairs with younger actresses in his productions. In a letter he reportedly wrote to Cole before ending their marriage, he admitted in his own words that he felt it “the height of normal” at the time to sexually “conquer” and “acquire” these actresses surrounding him.
Then there’s been the treatment of those actresses as well. After playing the fan-favourite role of Cordelia for seven years on Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Charisma Carpenter was unceremoniously fired. The transgression that cost Carpenter her job? She got pregnant.
And while not fired, Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot reportedly was threatened with it for not wanting to do a gag scene in Justice League where Ezra Miller’s Flash awkwardly falls face-first into her bosom. Gadot was reportedly locked in a room on-set by a screaming Whedon who threatened to end her career and eventually just did the scene with a stunt double (which is why Wonder Woman’s face is obscured). Unsurprisingly, that same stunt woman has now come out in support of Fisher.
As Grace Randolph mentions in the tweet above, we don’t have specifics yet on what Fisher is accusing Whedon of and nobody else on the cast is talking (though Snyder frequent photography collaborator Clay Enos did tweet out that “I heard the same thing” in response to Fisher’s claims). Until such time, and until Whedon responds, this is going to get even messier as fans on either side will go at it.
Last Updated: July 3, 2020