Last summer, Cyborg actor Ray Fisher made headlines with allegations of racial discrimination and general toxicity against Joss Whedon and others involved in the production of 2017’s Justice League. An investigation was launched by WarnerMedia, which subsequently completed said investigation and stated that “remedial action has been taken.” Whedon departed his HBO series The Nevers, but additional actions, if they occurred, escaped the public eye. Now, speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Fisher has opened up about the events. Here are some highlights:
- Writer Chris Terrio stated “Zack and I always considered Cyborg’s story to be the heart of the movie,” adding that he and Zack Snyder took the inclusion of the DC Extended Universe’s first Black superhero “very seriously.” Fisher himself was involved in crafting that story: “With a white writer and white director, we both thought having the perspective of an actor of color was really important. And Ray is really good with story and character, so he became a partner in creating Victor.”
- Fisher stated that he had “to explain some of the most basic points of what would be offensive to the Black community” while working under Whedon.
- Whedon allegedly said to Fisher, “it feels like I’m taking notes right now, and I don’t like taking notes from anybody — not even Robert Downey Jr.”
- Geoff Johns told Fisher to play Cyborg more like Quasimodo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
- Snyder had a “no catchphrases” rule, something that changed when Whedon took over and Cyborg was written with his “booyah” catchphrase from Teen Titans. Fisher pushed back about him being the only one with a catchphrase: “It seemed weird to have the only Black character say that.”
- When Fisher acquiesced and filmed the scene with the catchphrase, Whedon said to Fisher upon his arrival on set “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you.”
- Fisher’s agent called the studio chief, which didn’t sit well with Johns. He told the actor that his agent doing that was “just not cool.” Fisher adds, “He said, ‘I consider us to be friends’ — which he knew we were not — ‘and I just don’t want you to make a bad name for yourself in the business’ ,” which Fisher took as a threat.
- Jeremy Irons was among those upset about the rewritten script, as was Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot, who reportedly had “issues about her character being more aggressive than her character in Wonder Woman. She wanted to make the character flow from one movie to the next.” Whedon allegedly went on to threaten Gadot’s career and talk ill of director Patty Jenkins, “bragging that he’s had it out with Gal. He told her he’s the writer and she’s going to shut up and say the lines and he can make her look incredibly stupid in this movie.” Gadot has said that her concerns were addressed and handled.
Issues under the DC umbrella didn’t end there. SyFy’s two-season Krypton apparently had some issues behind the scenes, including the show’s creators not being allowed to explore nontraditional casting. Bridgerton actor Regé-Jean Page reportedly auditioned for the lead role of Superman’s grandfather, but Geoff Johns nixed the idea of Superman having a Black grandfather. He also apparently shut down the idea of the series’ Adam Strange being gay or bisexual.
Nadria Tucker, a writer on Krypton (and now Superman & Lois), tweeted back in February that she has not spoken to Johns over an argument regarding a Black character’s hairstyle being different on different days. Speaking with THR, Tucker shared that she told Johns “I said Black women, we tend to change our hair frequently. It’s not weird, it’s a Black thing,” to which he responded “no, it’s not.”
Check out the article over at THR for more, including Fisher’s comments on Walter Hamada’s leadership, questionable investigation steps, how Frosty the Snowman fits into all of this, and more.
Photo from Fortune