Joss Whedon has responded to allegations by members of the Justice League cast that he behaved in a hostile and “abusive” manner on the set of the 2017 film.
In July of 2020, Ray Fisher – who played Cyborg in Justice League – claimed Whedon’s conduct on the film’s set was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable”. In April 2021, Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot accused Whedon of threatening to harm her career.
Whedon finally broke his silence on the allegations in a profile by Vulture published Monday (January 17), making his own claims of abrasive behaviour from the cast and crew of Justice League. Whedon claimed he’d once paused the shoot to declare that he’d never before worked with “a ruder group of people”.
Whedon also addressed claims made by Fisher that he had racially charged motives for minimising Cyborg’s role in Justice League, saying he cut much of the character’s arc from the film because his plot beats “logically made no sense”, and because Fisher was, in his own words, “a bad actor”.
When asked for his theory on Fisher’s motives, Whedon told Vulture: “We’re talking about a malevolent force. We’re talking about a bad actor in both senses.”
Responding to Gadot’s claims that Whedon threatened to harm her career, he asserted to Vulture: “I don’t threaten people. Who does that?” Whedon then cited Gadot’s linguistic heritage (her native language is Hebrew) as a potential cause for misunderstanding him, saying: “English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech.”
The story recounts how Whedon “recalled arguing over a scene [Gadot] wanted to cut”, saying the director “told her jokingly that if she wanted to get rid of it, she would have to tie him to a railroad track and do it over his dead body”. Pointing to the anecdote, Whedon continued: “I was told that I had said something about her dead body and tying her to the railroad track.”
Gadot reportedly disagreed with Whedon’s retelling of the encounter, telling Vulture publishers New York that she “understood perfectly”.
Several hours after it was published, Fisher responded to the Vulture profile on social media. “Looks like Joss Whedon got to direct an endgame after all,” he tweeted. “Rather than address all of the lies and buffoonery today – I will be celebrating the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tomorrow the work continues.”
Looks like Joss Whedon got to direct an endgame after all…
Rather than address all of the lies and buffoonery today—I will be celebrating the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Tomorrow the work continues.#MLKDay
— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) January 17, 2022
Word of Whedon’s alleged behaviour first surfaced in the later months of 2017, after his ex-wife, Kai Cole, slammed him as a hypocrite who preached “feminist ideals” while simultaneously “taking away [her] right to make choices for [her] life and body”.
After Fisher spoke out in July 2020, it was reported that an investigation into Whedon’s behaviour was opened by WarnerMedia; Whedon subsequently exited his role in producing the HBO series The Nevers. The investigation reportedly ended that December with WarnerMedia taking “remedial action”.
That month, Gadot opened up about her “own experience” on the Justice League set, conceding that it “wasn’t the best one”. The star noted that she “took care of it there and when it happened”, saying the “higher-ups” at Warner Bros. “took care of it”.
The following months came with several more allegations from Gadot, who claimed Whedon told her that if she “did something [about Whedon’s behaviour on-set], he would make [her] career miserable”. Gadot later said she was “shocked” by the way Whedon addressed her during the production.
Also in 2021, Charisma Carpenter – who starred in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel – accused Whedon of abusing his power on the shows’ sets, saying that he “has a history of being casually cruel”. One instance she noted regarded her pregnancy during the former show’s production, where it’s alleged Whedon asked if she was “going to keep it” and “manipulatively weaponized [Carpenter’s] womanhood and faith against [her]”.
Responding to those allegations, Whedon told Vulture: “I was young. I yelled, and sometimes you had to yell. This was a very young cast, and it was easy for everything to turn into a cocktail party… If I am upsetting somebody, it will be a problem for me.”
On his relationship with Carpenter during his tenures on Buffy and Angel, Whedon admitted that he “was not mannerly” to her when he found out the actress was pregnant during production, but maintained that he and Carpenter were otherwise friendly. “Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming,” he said. “She struggled sometimes with her lines, but nobody could hit a punch line harder than her.”