The grave racist mistake that cost the ‘Superman’ franchise Regé-Jean Page

And more we learned from Ray Fisher about Joss Whedon and ‘Justice League’
Published April 6, 2021 2:51 p.m. EST
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It was the tweet that launched an investigation. In July of last year, Justice League actor Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg in the franchise, tweeted that director Joss Whedon’s behaviour on-set toward cast and crew was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.” That launched an investigation by Warner Brothers into his claims, which Fisher has revealed today to be completely underwhelming and internally biased.

In an interview published by The Hollywood Reporter, Fisher goes into detail about Whedon’s “gross, abusive, unprofessional” conduct, and they include a few whoppers about some of the other actors cast in the franchise . . . and one actor who didn’t land a part because of the colour of his skin.

Multiple sources told THR that Bridgerton hunk and now-mega-star Regé-Jean Page had auditioned back in 2018 for the role of Superman’s grandfather, but DC Films executive Geoff Johns, who was overseeing the project, reportedly said Superman “could not have a Black grandfather.”

Johns, who was called-out in Fisher’s infamous tweet as an enabler to Whedon, had his PR spokesperson state that he “believed fans expected the character to look like a young Henry Cavill” and that was the reasoning for not casting perhaps the biggest breakout star of 2021, but the sources also allege that franchise creators also wanted to reveal that superhero Adam Strange was gay or bisexual; an idea Johns also nixed.

Imagine not casting the Duke of Hastings for a silly reason like this.

But it turns out that attitudes and behaviours toward actors who were actually cast in the franchise were no better. Fisher and sources recount how director Whedon forced Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot to say lines she did not approve of and “threatened to harm Gadot‘s career and disparaged Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.”

A source stated, “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.”

Like Fisher, Gal complained to the higher-ups at the studio, hashing it out herself during a meeting where Jenkins and the chairman of Warner Bros were both present. Back in December, she told the Los Angeles Times that working with Whedon "wasn't the best."

“I had my issues with [Whedon] and Warner Bros. handled it in a timely manner,” Gal said in a statement to THR, but Insider points out that Wonder Woman’s portrayal in the final cut of the film is sexist and unflattering. 

Jason Momoa, who plays Aquaman, had also previously spoken out about Whedon’s bad behaviour, corroborating what Fisher initially tweeted, but the THR exposé reveals that the Game of Thrones star felt even more violated by the studio on the exact day that Fisher published his tweet.

On that very day, Warner Brothers announced it was making a live-action Frosty the Snowman movie with Momoa "voicing the iconic snowman."

A couple months later, Momoa posted a scathing Instagram post denying he was ever involved in the project, calling it a tactic to divert attention away from Fisher’s allegations.

"I just think it's f***ed up that people released a fake Frosty announcement without my permission to try to distract from Ray Fisher speaking up about the sh***y way we were treated on Justice League reshoots," he wrote. "Serious stuff went down. It needs to be investigated and people need to be held accountable."

For their part, Warners says the "Untitled Snowman Comedy" remains in development, but this sounds like a serious “Wag The Dog” ploy.

Fisher also went into detail about Whedon’s mistreatment, and how he was racially insensitive when it came to the portrayal of a Black superhero. Saying that Whedon (who came onto the movie when original director Zack Snyder left due to his daughter’s suicide) was intent on brightening the film’s grim tone, Fisher says Cyborg’s traumatic backstory was watered down so the character seemed more like a “kind-hearted Quasimodo” rather than a “Frankenstein” type. Discussions were also had about the inclusion of the catchphrase “boo-yah” which Fisher was hesitant to say.

When Fisher tried to offer his creative views on the character, Whedon apparently snapped, "It feels like I'm taking notes right now, and I don't like taking notes from anybody — not even Robert Downey Jr."

When Fisher turned to Geoff Johns, Johns apparently replied, "We can't make Joss mad."

“It was like he was assuming how Black people would respond rather than taking the advice from the only Black person—as far as I know—with any kind of creative impact on the project,” Fisher says.

The interview also goes into detail about what Fisher calls a botched investigation into his grievances by Warner Brothers. Fisher says certain investigators were hired because were sympathetic to the studio and not the actor. One attorney was put forth to Fisher as an investigator, and it later turned out that person had no involvement and was just suggested after they found her picture on the internet.

In the end, Fisher’s casting in The Flash was reduced to “a cameo” so he wouldn’t be paid his normal wage, and eventually removed entirely from the script; seemingly an act of retribution on the studio’s part for his complaint. 

“I don’t believe some of these people are fit for positions of leadership,” Fisher says of the almost-year-long ordeal. “I don’t want them excommunicated from Hollywood but I don’t think they should be in charge of the hiring and firing of other people.”

He finished by saying, “If I can’t get accountability, at least I can make people aware of who they’re dealing with.”

 

BEFORE YOU GO: Rege-Jean Page, Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans to team up for new movie

 

[video_embed id='2153238']BEFORE YOU GO: Rege-Jean Page, Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans to team up for new movie[/video_embed]