Any fan who has watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League realizes that Ray Fisher was done dirty by the theatrically released version spearheaded by Joss Whedon and Warner Bros. brass. But you need not have seen either movie to know that, as the Cyborg actor has been telling everyone for the last year about Whedon’s “gross, abusive, unprofessional” conduct on set and WB’s allegedly sketchy, racist attempts to cover up Fisher’s complaints.
Today, The Hollywood Reporter published an extensive interview with Fisher, who digs into the weeds of his allegations against Whedon and studio executives Geoff Johns, Walter Hamada, and Jon Berg. He detailed how his concerns over representation of DC’s first live-action Black superhero were dismissed by the studio, which pushed for the character “to be less like Frankenstein and more like the kindhearted Quasimodo.”
Much of this conflict was exacerbated when the studio began pushing for Cyborg to say “booyah” for “a fun moment of synergy.” Although it’s the catchphrase for the hero in Teen Titans, Fisher argued it wasn’t in the comics nor in Snyder’s script, as the filmmaker opposed any use of catchphrases. Fisher said it reminded him of Gary Coleman and Jimmie Walker, adding: “It seemed weird to have the only Black character say that.”
Fisher also felt slighted by the reduction of Cyborg’s role in the plot once Whedon took over. Much of the character’s rich backstory was excised, and what was left made Fisher feel he had “to explain some of the most basic points of what would be offensive to the Black community” to Whedon. When he tried to discuss his character’s arc with the filmmaker, Whedon apparently responded, “It feels like I’m taking notes right now, and I don’t like taking notes from anybody — not even Robert Downey Jr.”
Sources also detailed a similar conflict between Whedon and Gal Gadot, the likes of which echo comments made by Whedon’s former colleague Charisma Carpenter earlier this year. Like Fisher, Gadot also reportedly expressed concerns over her lines, to which Whedon allegedly threatened her career and even threw shade at Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins. One eyewitness told the publication, “Joss was 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.”
Whedon declined to comment for the story, while Warner Bros. expressed “complete confidence” in the findings of its internal investigation. Investigator Katherine Forrest, who conducted the probe for WB, told THR that she interviewed over 80 witnesses and found “no credible support for claims of racial animus.”
Instead, Warner’s sources contend that “Fisher was being manipulated by Snyder, who hoped to reclaim control of the DC film universe.” Snyder denied any such allegations to publication, while Fisher wisely pointed out that, “the assertion that a Black man would not have his own agency is just as racist as the conversations [Warners leadership] was having about the Justice League reshoots.”
Fisher digressed on this thought, adding: “I’ve been underestimated at every turn during this process and that is what has led us to this point. Had they taken me as seriously as they should have from the beginning, they would not have made as many foolish mistakes as they did in the process.”
He further detailed how the studio’s internal review was filled with sketchy occurrences like witnesses telling Fisher they hadn’t be contacted and the revelation that the investigator had worked with WB before and was close to one of the executives in charge of those past investigations. When Fisher pressed the investigator about who was overseeing the inquiry, he was eventually furnished with a name of a lawyer who happened to be the only Black attorney on the WarnerMedia’s general counsel’s website. That attorney, it turned out, had nothing to do with the investigation, and Fisher was told the investigator had “just pulled the name off the Internet.”
Fisher went into plenty of other head-scratching details about how WB, Hamada, and Katherine Forrest (the former federal judge who conducted the probe for WarnerMedia) handled the investigation. Read the whole thing at THR.
Ultimately, Fisher has since left the DC Extended Universe and is currently working on the ABC anthology series Women of the Movement.