Thanks to the HBO Max premiere of the highly anticipated Zack Snyder cut of the 2017 superhero film Justice League, the conversation about the film’s other director Joss Whedon has picked up once more. And new troubling revelations about Whedon’s aggression towards other cast members on the set of the DC Extended Universe film are underscoring a history of misbehaviour and abuse.
In 2020, three years after the initial release of Justice League, Ray Fisher (Cyborg in the movie) came forward with claims that Whedon had been abusive and disrespectful to his cast and crew during production; Fisher also alleged that DC Films and Warner Bros. ignored his reports about Whedon’s behaviour, choosing instead to threaten the actor’s career instead. Though co-star Jason Momoa (Aquaman) also co-signed the allegations at the time, confirming that “serious went down” during filming, Fisher was still cut from future Justice League projects —including The Flash and Cyborg’s pending solo film.
Months later, we’re now learning more details about exactly what went down on the set of Justice League. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fisher revealed that much of the tension stemmed from Whedon’s refusal to take feedback and constructive criticism from his cast. In the Snyder cut of the film, Fisher’s character is the heart of the story, a traumatized and reluctant hero who utilizes his genius-level intellect (and unique tech) to chart the team’s course to success. However, Whedon had other ideas for Cyborg; instead, he leaned more towards stereotypes to personify the humanoid.
"It was like he was assuming how Black people would respond rather than taking the advice from the only Black person — as far as I know — with any kind of creative impact on the project," Fisher said of the director.
As it turns out, Fisher wasn’t the only one struggling with Whedon’s narrow idea of what the Justice League should look like on the silver screen. Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth) and Gal Gadot also had a difficult time on set. Having to contend with troubling new developments in Diana Prince/Wonder Woman’s character, Gadot shared her thoughts with Whedon, but the director didn’t take kindly to suggestions, allegedly responding to her concerns with threats to end her career in Hollywood. Things got so bad between the two that Gadot arranged a meeting with former Warner Bros. chairman Kevin Tsujihara, which Gadot says resulted in the issues being “handled...in a timely manner."
The new claims against Whedon follow a long line of harrowing stories from stars from his past projects; Buffy the Vampire Slayer Charisma Carpenter and her co-stars also had a lot to say about their negative experience with the director during the 1990s and early 2000s. At the end of the day, says Fisher, Whedon’s behavior and the subsequent enabling of his actions by Warner Bros. and DC Films is a result of a bigger industry problem at hand: bad leadership.
"I don't believe some of these people are fit for positions of leadership," Fisher concluded. “I don't want them excommunicated from Hollywood, but I don't think they should be in charge of the hiring and firing of other people."