UPDATE: Ray Fisher has sent CinemaBlend a reply to the statement's provided by Joss Whedon's spokespeople. He said, "This is only a hair’s breadth away from Berg’s, 'Fisher was upset about booyah' defense. I’ve been trying my best to make sure that Joss Whedon and Jon Berg aren’t able to be thrown completely under the bus by the other guys. But when they make these half baked knee-jerk excuses publicly, they make my job a lot harder. I’m settling in with my family for the night. I’ll have a more in-depth response tomorrow.”
Two significant stories have dominated the headlines in 2020 regarding the Snyder Cut of Justice League, one very positive and the other decidedly negative. The first involves HBO Max stepping to the plate to fund additional photography for Zack Snyder to complete his cut of Justice League, a movie he had to step away from in 2017 due to a family tragedy. The new version of Justice League arrives on the streaming service in 2021.
The second, more disturbing, story involves allegations of abuse made by Ray Fisher regarding his time on the reshoots for Justice League, and more claims were added to the actor’s grievance list today. Fisher started raising concerns back in July of this year stating that Justice League replacement director Joss Whedon behaved “gross, abusive [and] unprofessional” on the reshoot sets. Fisher also accused Justice League producers Geoff Johns and Jon Berg of enabling the behavior. Fisher has demanded an investigation into the accusations, and when one was launched, the actor raised flags because he believed a campaign conducted by Warner Bros. Pictures would be one-sided, and unfair to him.
The argument being waged between Ray Fisher and the parties he’s accusing has been fought in public and litigated in the headlines, with reps from Joss Whedon, Geoff Johns and Jon Berg largely remaining quiet. After the most recent round of accusations, however, an anonymous spokesperson for Whedon pushed back on two specific claims leveled by the Cyborg actor.
Ray Fisher spoke with Forbes and laid out a few more claims regarding what he views as Joss Whedon’s decisions during the Justice League reshoots and post-production. Fisher blames Whedon for cutting multiple characters played by actors of color, including Kiersey Clemons (cast as Iris West alongside Ezra Miller), S.T.A.R. Labs technician Ryan Choi, and actress Karen Bryson, who played Fisher’s mother in the film, Elinore Stone. Fisher told Forbes:
I always suspected that race was a determining factor for the way that things went down, but it wasn’t until this past summer that I was able to prove it. … Race was just one of the issues with the reshoot process. There were massive blowups, threats, coercion, taunting, unsafe work conditions, belittling, and gaslighting like you wouldn’t believe.
A source close to the production spoke to CinemaBlend following those claims, however, and clarified that these characters had been removed from the Justice League cut long before Joss Whedon came on board as a substitute, and that it was not Whedon’s decision to remove any of these characters from the theatrical cut. They went so far as the argue that “the statement that these roles were cut by Joss is false.”
These same sources made this exact claim to CinemaBlend after Kiersey Clemons used the hashtag #IStandWithRayFisher back in September. According to their side of the story, Clemons didn’t do any work with Joss Whedon on Justice League, so they were unsure why the actress would take issue with the replacement director.
In the same Forbes story, Ray Fisher went on to claim that the catalyst for his current campaign to hold Joss Whedon, Geoff Johns and Jon Berg accountable for their “unacceptable” behavior was news he received that Whedon had the skin tone of a Justice League cast member altered. Fisher told Forbes:
What set my soul on fire and forced me to speak out about Joss Whedon this summer was my becoming informed that Joss had ordered that the complexion of an actor of color be changed in post-production because he didn’t like the color of their skin tone. Man, with everything 2020’s been, that was the tipping point for me.
Coloring from the Snyder Cut footage seen in earlier trailers and what ended up in the theatrical cut of Justice League are wildly different. The conclusion of the theatrical cut, in particular, shows a distinct red hue that wasn’t part of Snyder’s original film. But other scenes stand out for the way that backgrounds and tints change when footage fluctuates from Snyder holdovers to Whedon reshoots.
The Whedon spokesperson who spoke with CinemaBlend on the condition of anonymity addressed Ray Fisher’s claim of skin-tone alterations to Forbes, stating:
The individual who offered this statement acknowledged that this was just something that he had heard from someone else and accepted as truth, when in fact simple research would prove that it was false. As is standard on almost all films, there were numerous people involved with mixing the final product on this film, including the editor, special effects person, composer, etc., with the senior colorist responsible for the final version’s tone, colors, and mood. This process was further complicated by the fact that Zack shot on film, while Joss shot on digital, which required the team, led by the same senior colorist who has worked on previous films for Zack, to reconcile the two.
This marks the first time that Joss Whedon’s camp is choosing to address Ray Fisher’s claims of racially driven hostility towards the Justice League cast and crew during the reshoots for the film in 2017. Fisher went on to say in the Forces article that he will continue to reveal details about his allegations once the investigation into the matter, conducted by Warner Media, concludes. Fisher’s campaign isn’t only against Whedon. He’s attempting to hold several other key figures accountable for the actions he claims happened on the set of the Justice League reshoots.
We will continue to track this story, while also reporting on the development of the movie in question that started this – Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which is making its way to HBO Max in 2021.