Snyder had to leave DC’s Justice League after his daughter tragically committing suicide. Joss Whedon was given 40 days to reshoot major portions of the film. That quickly snowballed into extensive cuts being made to Snyder’s vision, reworking the style, shifting away from the gritty seriousness towards a more light-hearted tone. In a blunt new interview, the director has admitted his cast soon rebelled against his filmmaking style. Later, many of them publicly and angrily slammed their experience on set. Whedon has now decided to set the record straight, dismissing the accusations and even suggesting Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot misunderstood him, explaining: “English is not her first language.”
The drama behind the scenes of Justice League was first revealed in June of 2020. Cyborg actor Ray Fisher had originally praised the director at 2017’s Comic-Com, declaring: “Joss is a great guy and Zack picked a good person to come in and finish up for him.” Justice League was a particularly important film for the young black star, as it was his first lead role in a major Hollywood blockbuster.
Then Fisher stunned the world and film industry when he later wrote on Twitter: “I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement. [Whedon’s] on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.”
Fisher also told Forbes that he was informed Whedon had used colour correction to change his skin tone in the film. The star said: “Man, with everything 2020’s been, that was the tipping point for me.” Speaking to The New Yorker today, the director rejected this claim, explaining that he had changed the lighting across the entire film, brightening all scenes and actors. But there were still numerous other damaging accusations.
Undoubtedly, Cyborg was the one character that saw the most scenes axed when compared to the Snyder Cut. Originally envisioned as the heart and soul of the movie, Whedon decided against this, instead, focusing on Ben Affleck’s Batman, Henry Cavill’s Superman, and Gadot’s Wonder Woman.
The director explained that he cut Cyborg simply because his storyline “logically made no sense,” and slammed the actor’s performance. He insisted that he spent hours talking over the change with Fisher and that at the time they were perfectly reasonable discussions. He added that none of Fisher’s claims were “true or meritted discussing.”
When he was asked why he thought Fisher had denounced him publicly, Whedon added: “We’re talking about a malevolent force. We’re talking about a bad actor in both senses.”
Stories of Whedon’s allegedly toxic behaviour did not end with Fisher, as Gal Gadot said: “He kind of threatened my career and said if I did something, he would make my career miserable. I handled it on the spot.”
The director now admitted that his time working behind the scenes on the first got off to a rocky start. Snyder encouraged a collaborative effort on set, allowing his actors to ad-lib lines and work with him in establishing character. Whedon had a much more regimental approach, insisting the stars keep to the script, but, “That didn’t go down well at all.”
Gadot was particularly upset with the change in direction, but Whedon has rejected her claims that he “threatened” her. He said: “I don’t threaten people. Who does that?” He then asserted that the Israeli-born actress must have simply misunderstood her due to English being her second language.
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He gave an example of miscommunication, recalling an argument on-set over a scene the star wanted to be cut. According to Whedon, he jokingly said if she wanted the scene removed, she would need to tie him to railroad tracks and do it over his dead body.
The director continued: “Then I was told I had said something about her dead body and tying her to the railroad track.” Gadot has since responded to his version of events, with The New Yorker reporting that she “understood perfectly” everything that had been said at the time.
Since his time working on Justice League, Whedon returned to television, directing the HBO show The Nevers. It seemed history repeated itself when the director exited mid-way through the first series. He claimed to leave due to “the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic” but speculation at the time was magnified by reports about abuses on the set of Whedon’s original show, Buffy. The Nevers cast, at the time, emphatically defended the director.
The full interview can be read in Vulture, The New York Magazine here.