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Justice League actor Ray Fisher makes a bold move against Joss Whedon

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include Ray Fisher's July 1, 2020 tweet alleging Joss Whedon exhibited abusive behavior on the Justice League set.

We all sometimes say things for the sake of politeness, but Ray Fisher has decided that the time for that kind of politeness has passed. 

The actor who portrayed Cyborg in Justice League recently tweeted that he wanted to "forcefully retract" something he said at a San Diego Comic-Con panel back before the release of the film. In the video clip he attached to the tweet, he says as part of the panel discussion that Joss Whedon is "a good guy" and that original Justice League director Zack Snyder "picked the best person to come in and clean up, finish it up for him." Snyder departed Justice League in 2017 after the unexpected death of his daughter, and Whedon was selected to perform both script rewrites and direct pick-up and reshooting for the project.

This difference in final product is at the heart of what fans refer to as "The Snyder Cut" — an incomplete version of the film that has been subject of ceaseless discussion since Justice League was released to an underwhelming response. HBO made big headlines in May 2020 with the announcement that the company is ponying up the money for Snyder to finish the post-production, editing, and possibly even reshoots of his original vision for the film. Zack Snyder's Justice League is scheduled to debut on HBO's new streaming service, HBO Max, sometime in 2021.

Now that the Snyder Cut will be emerging at last, it appears Fisher is willing to speak his mind a little more openly — and given the reported differences between the Whedon and Snyder versions of Justice League, he has perhaps more personal interest than even his fellow co-stars in doing so. Let's get into why Ray Fisher is expressing these feelings now, and why it might be the only cold comfort he can obtain.

Lost career momentum

It's begun to feel like one long eon these past couple of years, but once upon a time, Justice League was supposed to be a middle chapter in four to six movies — all with a contiguous narrative. That original vision included extra antagonists and a different frame around its primary antagonist, Steppenwolf. Where Fisher plays into this is his reasonable saltiness over a reported drastic reduction in his significance to the plot of Justice League as Snyder originally conceived it. Cyborg is said to be essentially the central character because his father's work in saving his life after the car accident that almost killed him was assisted by one of the Mother Boxes central to the plot of the entire movie. Cyborg would have had more overt personal connections to the Boxes, understood their history, and even had some character development during the climax because of them. The final cut of Justice League that went to theaters made Cyborg much more of a secondary character, along with Ezra Miller's version of Barry Allen, aka The Flash.

Cyborg's heightened presence in Snyder's version of the film was also supposed to have a much broader purpose: Justice League was to serve as a soft introductory film for the character, and later on, there was to have been a solo film meant to expand his character without being burdened by the typical background story issues that many solo superhero films experience. No need for lots of exposition — just a big adventure with a Black actor as lead, which would have been new (and is still something we haven't yet seen) in the DC cinematic canon. 

In the wake of Justice League's respectable box office take but less-than-glowing reviews, however, Warner Bros. opted to restructure the franchise as a whole, and we've passed up two previously announced release dates for a Cyborg solo film. It's never been officially cancelled, but it appears to be dead in the water.

A touch of retroactive vindication

Given all these facts about the movie that might have been in 2017, it's much more understandable now that Fisher would go so far as to publicly rescind something he said during active marketing for the original film. He's young, and at the time was the up-and-coming talent of the movie, only for that to be stripped away by a confluence of unfortunate events. Since Justice League, Fisher has had a successful turn on True Detective, but not much else. It may not be entirely fair to blame simply Whedon, however, since Warner Bros. reportedly wasn't happy with Snyder's assembly cut either, well before he departed the project. The original cut of Justice League may have never happened to begin with, irrespective of Snyder being there or not — though that itself probably would have been yet another, very different movie. We'll never know.

The Snyder Cut's release on HBO Max will almost certainly not change anything about Warner Bros.' current smaller-scale, single-story film plans like Birds of Prey and Robert Pattinson's The Batman, but it is a chance for Fisher to amplify his career anew. It's taken years for these bits and pieces of differing plot and characterization to ooze out over many interviews with Snyder and others, and the opportunity presented now with HBO fronting cash to see it finished is unprecedented in the industry. It's the ultimate successful expression of fan lobbying – boosted by its cast that, as time goes on, also appears to be pretty dissatisfied with what went to theaters in 2017.

Ray Fisher alleges Joss Whedon was abusive on the set of Justice League

Following up his previous insinuations of creative dissatisfaction, Fisher has grown more direct with another tweet leveling more serious allegations at Whedon: "Joss Whedon's on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable. He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Accountability>Entertainment."

For those not savvy to Warner Bros.' executive structure, both Johns and Berg were producers on Justice League. At the time, Johns was Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment (basically DC's version of Marvel Studios mastermind Kevin Feige), and Berg was co-president of production at Warner Bros. Neither are in those respective positions any longer (for unrelated reasons), and Whedon has departed the only other DC project he had been attached to: writing the Batgirl script.

At this time, Whedon hasn't provided a comment in response to Fisher's tweet; representatives for Warner Bros. are staying similarly silent. Berg, on the other hand, told Variety on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 that it is "categorically untrue" that he and Johns "enabled any unprofessional behavior." He continued, "I remember [Fisher] being upset that we wanted him to say 'Booyaa,' which is a well known saying of Cyborg in the animated series."

Fisher didn't give any further details as of this writing, but this slow unraveling of erstwhile marketing veneer is growing more serious as time goes on. We'll have to see if Fisher offers more information, or if his fellow Justice League cast members have their own thoughts to share, since Fisher appears to be saying he wasn't specifically singled out insofar as poor treatment.