In the four years that I’ve written for Pajiba, I’ve mentioned and made reference to the film Justice League at least three times. Each time I’ve mentioned that film (here, here, and here), I wrote this: “The less said about Justice League and about ALL of the behind-the-scenes bullshit that led to the film being released and turning out the way it did, the better.” And this post you’re about to read is going to shine just a little bit of light on why I keep saying that.
So here’s some backstory …
After Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice opened in theaters back in March of 2016 to largely negative reviews but reasonably successful box-office returns, director Zack Snyder soon went into production on its sequel, Justice League, which underwent a few changes in writer Chris Terrio’s script in response to the critical and audience response to Batman v. Superman. During post-production for Justice League, Snyder walked away from the film and relinquished his duties as director when his daughter, Autumn, died by suicide. Shortly after the exit of both Zack and his wife, producer Deborah Snyder, Warner Bros. approached Joss Whedon to take over as director and complete production of the film. Due to the studio’s desire to move away from the darker tone of Batman v. Superman and to basically have their own version of The Avengers, Whedon added about eighty pages to the script for extensive reshoots that not only added approximately $25 million or more to the film’s budget (which was between $250 - $300 million), but used only about 10 to 20 percent of what Snyder had originally shot before his exit in order to meet the studio’s mandate of Justice League having a runtime no longer than two hours, including end credits.
Once reshoots were finally complete and Justice League went back into post-production, the film’s cast members — Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Ezra Miller (The Flash), and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) appeared at San Diego Comic-Con to not only promote the film and let fans know that it was a lot different than what they got with Batman v. Superman, but to also let them know that despite Zack needing to step away from the film and not see it through to its completion, Joss did a terrific job in finishing what he started and maintaining the original tone of his work without any drastic changes.
Or so we were all led to believe.
On November 17, 2017, Justice League opened in theaters to mixed reviews and disappointing box-office returns. And after the film’s release, many people who saw the film couldn’t help but notice a lot of differences between scenes that appeared in the film and scenes that appeared in the first trailer and in sneak peeks provided to Comic-Con (which you can watch here, here, and here). Some scenes were left out altogether, whereas other scenes were drastically altered and re-edited almost beyond recognition. This resulted in fans believing that, much like how Batman v. Superman had a half-hour of footage removed from the theatrical version of the film and restored to the Ultimate Edition on Blu-ray, that there was also a director’s cut of Justice League as well, and that it could possibly see the light of day and show audiences the film that Zack Snyder had originally intended for them to see. And after two years of DCEU fans using the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag to show their support and to petition for Warner Bros. to let Zack Snyder show his original version of the film (some of them doing so passionately but respectfully, others doing so in a way that makes you wish you could punch people through the Internet right before permanently revoking their Internet access), Snyder announced at the conclusion of an online watch party for Man Of Steel last month, that the director’s cut of Justice League would finally be released and that it would appear on HBO Max sometime in 2021.
And here is where we get to the reason why you’re reading this post.
As I had said before, when the cast of Justice League appeared at San Diego Comic-Con to promote the film, part of that promotion also involved the cast (particularly Ray Fisher when answering a question from someone in the crowd at Hall H) praising and complimenting Joss Whedon in how he handled taking over the film after Zack Snyder’s exit.
Well, this past Monday, Ray had something to say about that on Twitter.
I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement: pic.twitter.com/1ECwwu6TG1— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) June 29, 2020
And that tweet grabbed the attention of a whole lot of people on Twitter.
It was literally his first big film. It sucks dat anyone would have to go thru dat but it sucks even more becuz Ray is a black man working in Hollywood and his first big role got fucked with. Dudes like Joss Whedon/James Gunn can do dumb shit and still get gigs like it's nothin. https://t.co/p8xS41Z270— PiScEs27 AKA: Gandalf's Apprentice (@Josh2Gud4U) June 29, 2020
Joss Whedon deliberately butchered what was supposed to be Ray's big break in Hollywood. He owes that man nothing.— lady_le_fay 💙🦇❤ (@Lady_Le_Fay) June 29, 2020
Here are some of the characters erased or butchered by Joss Whedon. What do they have in common? pic.twitter.com/XAOQbf3ooh— Mercury #GBTZ (@Mercuryinretro1) June 29, 2020
For further clarification, the characters referred to in the above tweets are Cyborg’s parents, Dr. Victor Stone and Dr. Elinore Stone (played by Joe Morton and Karen Bryson), Ryan Choi a.k.a. The Atom (played by Zheng Kai), Iris West (played by Kiersey Clemons, and who is expected to reprise her role in The Flash opposite Ezra Miller), and U.S. Secretary of Defense Calvin Swanwick a.k.a. The Martian Manhunter (played by Harry Lennix).
That moment when Ray Fisher decided to throw his last remaining fuck about Joss Whedon out of the nearest window… #JusticeLeague #ZackSnydersJusticeLeague https://t.co/Brw4UCky0G pic.twitter.com/08gqvykxg9— hellresidentNY (@hellresidentNY) June 29, 2020
And the look on Jason Momoa's face when he wants to tell the truth and spill all of the tea, but he has to think about that AQUAMAN money… #JusticeLeague #ZackSnydersJusticeLeague https://t.co/AepZFIhcX6 pic.twitter.com/NiWyfnZrV5— hellresidentNY (@hellresidentNY) June 29, 2020
The responses to Ray Fisher’s tweet were very strong (so strong that when he posted it on Instagram, he got supportive responses from Karen Bryson, and also from the stand-ins/stuntpersons for Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot), and they only got stronger as some people on Twitter found it qwhite interesting as they noticed how others felt the need to not only defend Joss, but judge Ray for what he said and how he said it, and that it was lacking professionalism to publicly criticize a director like this for everyone to see.
Some of you are more mad about people finally speaking up than you are over the absolute fuckery WB and Whedon did to ZS and his cast/crew in the first place. Unbelievable.— lady_le_fay 💙🦇❤ (@Lady_Le_Fay) June 29, 2020
It's weird that people are mad at Ray for retracting the lies WB forced him to tell the world while his close friend was grieving.— Walt (@UberKryptonian) June 29, 2020
Y'all being mad at Ray Fisher speaking out is the same as being mad at John Boyega for speaking against Star Wars.— 𝝠sh (@starfallgoddess) June 29, 2020
The way non black people are all ganging up on a black man speaking up about how he feels in a hollywood work environment ain't sitting right with me pic.twitter.com/2SWjhY53fr— Stark (@StarkJeweIs) June 29, 2020
I'm really not sure what else needs to be learned about Whedon before people stop sticking up for him like he's spotless. Sure, you can like the things he's made, but dude got Me Too'd by his own wife.— ☕Stephen M. Colbert (@smcolbert) June 29, 2020
And honestly, it's not even his fans that are sticking up for him so much as the journos and other influencers that normally pretend to care about this stuff.— ☕Stephen M. Colbert (@smcolbert) June 29, 2020
This was THE CORE CHARACTER STORY of Justice League, and it got written out by Joss Whedon. He erased Cyborg's significance and added a number of cringe/sexist jokes. Ray (and the rest of the cast) are very entitled to their frustration.https://t.co/HlIfFSoFFu pic.twitter.com/oQpIKQLn9o— ☕Stephen M. Colbert (@smcolbert) June 29, 2020
It's kind of insane the number of takes I'm seeing like "I understand why Ray is upset, but he should express it in a more respectful way"— ☕Stephen M. Colbert (@smcolbert) June 29, 2020
Like. On June 29, 2020, this is the take you're going to go with?
Not only did Twitter decide to refresh people’s memories about who Joss Whedon really was, thanks to this article written for The Wrap by his ex-wife Kai Cole, but a recent interview that Ray Fisher did with journalist Jonita Davis highlighted the differences between how Cyborg was portrayed in Justice League by Joss, and how Cyborg was supposed to be portrayed in Justice League by Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio.
I don’t praise Chris Terrio and @ZackSnyder for simply putting me in Justice League.— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) June 6, 2020
I praise them for EMPOWERING me (a black man with no film credits to his name) with a seat at the creative table and input on the framing of the Stones before there was even a script! #BORGLIFE pic.twitter.com/hbshWFkxrJ
And if you thought that Ray Fisher was done spilling the tea and talking shit about Joss Whedon, and his work on the set of Justice League, you clearly weren’t paying attention to Twitter yesterday.
Joss Wheadon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) July 1, 2020
He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg.
Not surprisingly, Twitter (especially DCEU Twitter) completely lost its shit in response to this tweet.
Ray Fisher said fuck it and reminded everyone the open secret that nerds ignore. Joss Whedon has a history of being unprofessional and predatory especially towards women. His ex- wife literally exposed him if you are asking Ray to be “professional” then you’re part of the problem— a d d y (@CIoutCOBA1N) July 1, 2020
Y'all owe Ray Fisher an apology. You know who you are.— Rigormorton (@WeirdNPissdOff) July 1, 2020
I heard the same thing. https://t.co/r4hBw3UWlA— Clay Enos (@ClayEnos) July 1, 2020
(This tweet came from Clay Enos, a well-known photographer who has worked with Zack Snyder on many of his films)
Ray Fisher better not get black listed for exposing mistreatment and disrespect on set by an idiot like Joss Whedon.— Walt (@UberKryptonian) July 1, 2020
We need to support Ray now more than ever. https://t.co/olKWP3fbbx
Ray Fisher has my respect. He isn’t doing this to start drama, or be “unprofessional”.— Walt (@UberKryptonian) July 1, 2020
He’s doing this because he can finally tell the truth. Ray has always been open about his work, and he’s being open about how he and his cast/crew were treated. We need to listen.
Ray Fisher deserves our support through all of this. This was a bold move for him and I am so happy he spoke up. He deserves better, the whole cast deserves better. Stand with him, do not make this about capeshit.— 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗮 (@amxndareviews) July 1, 2020
Had the pleasure of meeting Ray when we came close to doing Flash. An irresistible prince of a person with star wattage to spare, and an inspiring personal origin story.— Phil Lord #BlackLivesMatter #WearAMask (@philiplord) July 1, 2020
I mean there’s a reason why everyone from vfx to production to makeup/costume teams were celebrating when the SC was announced to come out. Absolutely no one enjoyed their time with Whedon on set, why he was let go for Batgirl and why Johns was fired from his position.— 𓆝𓆟𓆜˚ᵀᵃᶻᵐᶦⁿ˚𓆝𓆟𓆜 (@Tazmin98) July 1, 2020
Bringing this back after today, take it as you see fit pic.twitter.com/NeMPcEXv9G— -/George- (@kryptonscodex) July 2, 2020
I know we're all focused on JW, but it's important to not ignore the other two names he dropped.— Britt (@BB18180) July 1, 2020
It's sad all around, but I believe Ray. He has nothing to lose at this point. https://t.co/gCnvKLNNyU
And as with Ray’s previous tweet, there still seemed to be people on Twitter who were not only defending Joss Whedon, as well as comic-book writer/screenwriter/producer Geoff Johns and producer Jon Berg (both of whom were in charge of running the DC Films division for Warner Bros. until the box-office failure of Justice League changed that), but wondering why Ray was being so hostile and unprofessional in speaking to the public about their working relationship. And Twitter was not having it.
Ray Fisher risked his entire career tweeting that just to bring out the truth and yall have the audacity defending that sick fuck?— Nariman△⃒⃘ (@slytherinus) July 1, 2020
you people really need to sort out your priorities
People two weeks ago: “We need to listen to black voices. We can’t let them be drowned out when grievances are being aired!”— DC Connections (@dc_connections) July 1, 2020
Now: “Ray Fisher’s experience with workplace abuse doesn’t matter.”
A lot of you change your opinion when things stop trending.
Ray Fisher and John Boyega are risking their careers to speak out against their treatment in the industry, if you are quicker to criticise them instead of the one’s who wronged them(like Joss Whedon)….you are part of the problem. pic.twitter.com/tOIcmq8t38— Mercury #GBTZ (@Mercuryinretro1) July 1, 2020
john boyega's and ray fisher's situations are fairly similar.— tj (@kIyntar) July 1, 2020
they're speaking up about the mistreatment and abusive behavior they've faced in the film industry and people are calling them "unprofessional" while still defending people like joss whedon.
I see some people pointing to Gina Torres as proof Whedon couldn't act poorly towards actors of color. Gina Torres who had been acting professionally for 10 years & who was married to one of the most popular Black men in Hollywood? That Gina Torres? Hmmm…— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@Karnythia) July 2, 2020
So that means Ray can’t speak out on the mistreatment him and the cast suffered through? Honesty goes out the window when you’re a newbie? Fuck outta here. Just listen to yourself. https://t.co/zClQdl4hAc— ©ody (@curly_friied) July 1, 2020
He tried to tell us. pic.twitter.com/65SrjKTK1o— ☕Stephen M. Colbert (@smcolbert) July 1, 2020
And the reminders of Joss Whedon’s treatment of women both onscreen and in real life just kept on coming.
joss whedon’s wife told you all he was abusive and a hypocrite pretending to be a feminist while preying on young women during ‘buffy’ in 2017. charisma carpenter told you all she was fired by joss for the crime of getting pregnant.— Nicole | #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForRegis (@noizangel) July 1, 2020
you knew and still gave him power. https://t.co/t2z4tkFdYl
whedon is a faux feminist weeaboo who gets off on seeing women beaten up and ‘didn’t realize’ dollhouse was about human trafficking come on now— Nicole | #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForRegis (@noizangel) July 1, 2020
joss whedon fired charisma carpenter from angel for getting pregnant, wrote that atrocious black widow storyline where she thinks she’s a ‘monster’ because she’s infertile, and his own wife came out and said he was emotionally abusive. tear the bitch apart ray!!!!! https://t.co/iEI9eGwIkO— ashley ✨ (@LoonieLunas) July 1, 2020
In case you forgot about how Charisma Carpenter was treated by Joss during the last two seasons of Angel, here’s one reminder (start it at the 4:00 mark)…
…followed by another, in the form of this interview that Charisma did with Evan Ross Katz.
ERK: I want to ask you a question about a rumor and if you don’t want to respond, you say no, and then we’ll cut it out completely. There have long been rumors that your pregnancy somehow impacted the decision to have Cordelia exit the show from the writers room that they were not equipped to write around your pregnancy. Is that ever something that you’ve heard?
CC: It was 100% not expected. I don’t know why it wasn’t expected. When you’re a 30-year-old woman and you’ve been on a show for seven years and you’ve been with the same partner for like, five years and you do have sex. It’s plausible a person could get pregnant and it shouldn’t be something that could, you know—But the news, despite my efforts to reach the powers that be to inform them of my news. It happened over the summer when I found out, before we went back to work at the end of July. Every season started around my birthday either the 22nd or 23rd of July and I had tried fervently to get ahold of people. I had my people contact the powers that be I contacted them personally, I did not get a response. Then finally I got a call to meet the powers that be in an office and I was let know how it was fucking everything up for the season. So that’s 100% accurate.
ERK: What’s so odd about hearing that story is if something like that were to ever happen today, how that would not be at all accepted. I want to believe that that to be the case.
CC: It wasn’t supposed to be accepted then. To be honest with you, I was so afraid to say the truth for fear of those things that we fear. I had a little baby to feed and I was a primary caretaker of my family. I couldn’t afford to say my truth. I couldn’t afford to talk about the way that I was treated.
And if you’re curious as to why Gal Gadot’s stand-in/stunt double for Justice League, of all people, is more supportive of Ray than she is of Joss, it might be because she had to deal with this.
Don’t forget to add that he locked her in a room and threatened her career if she didn’t do the scene. That is very important and should not be omitted.— Jason Laboy Photography (@Jason24cf) July 1, 2020
As if all that wasn’t enough, producer Jon Berg spoke up in his own defense to Variety regarding what Ray said about him and Geoff Johns.
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.
Of all the possible reasons for Ray Fisher to possibly burn many a bridge and put his own career at risk by publicly talking shit about a successful and well-known writer/director in Hollywood, expecting people to believe that Ray did this because he didn’t feel like saying a catchphrase didn’t come across as very believable, and just elicited this response on Twitter …
What makes all of this even more unbelievable is that both Johns and Berg are producers on the live-action/CGI adaptation of Frosty The Snowman. The actor who will be playing Frosty? Jason Momoa.
Yeah. Which I’m sure won’t be awkward or weird at all.
And it really didn’t help when actor Alan Tudyk, who has worked with Joss on Firefly, Dollhouse, and Serenity (the one that doesn’t star Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and that Kristy loves with every fiber of her being), jumped into the ring to show his support for Joss and that he found it impossible that he would ever exhibit such horrible and unprofessional behavior.
Wasn't there, but I have known Joss for 17 years, I honestly can't even imagine it and I have a pretty good imagination. https://t.co/Z6G9C7Md6c— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) July 1, 2020
Once Tudyk got ratio’d and had enough people telling him to shut the fuck up and also realize that just because someone is nice and pleasant to you doesn’t mean that they’re not capable of being cruel and abusive and unpleasant towards others, he did some backpedaling with his following tweet, while still defending Joss.
True. I shouldn't deny another person's experience if I wasn't there. It's ignorant. I've my experiences in and out of work with @joss where he has been kind and supportive brilliant and funny. He is a hard worker a task master and a passionate if unconventiaonal dancer. Respect. https://t.co/ma1to4WMKu— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) July 1, 2020
There is a lot more that will probably said about what it was really like on the set of Justice League, and why so many people seem like they would be happy and willing to Spartan-kick Joss Whedon into the nearest bottomless pit. Whether it comes from Ray Fisher, his Justice League castmates, or any other crew members who have also run out of fucks to give, and whether we’ll find this out before this week has even ended, is really anyone’s guess.
Header Image Source: Getty Images