In October, director Zack Snyder will roll cameras for his extended cut of Justice League, working for WarnerMedia’s HBO Max division on restoring his version of the maligned 2017 movie that he exited because of a family tragedy. The shoot, which will turn the “Snyder Cut” into a four-episode limited series, is expected to bring back Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman for new scenes. Also set to appear on the call sheet for what is expected to be a week-or-so-long shoot is Ray Fisher as Cyborg.
The latter is noteworthy because Fisher is in a public dispute with sister WarnerMedia division Warner Bros., which he accuses of permitting Joss Whedon, the director who took over from Snyder, to engage in misconduct and abuse while reshooting Justice League. Fisher also claimed that executives Jon Berg and Geoff Johns, who both have since left the studio, enabled Whedon’s behavior. (Warner Bros. declined comment. WarnerMedia remains in business with Whedon, whose new show, HBO sci-fi drama The Nevers, is back in production in London.)
For Fisher, being cast as superhero Cyborg by Snyder was supposed to be the break of a lifetime. The actor went from theater work and one episode of television to land the character, who was first introduced in Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) then showcased more predominantly in Justice League. Cyborg was also get his own stand-alone movie, which was slated for 2020. But all that was years ago. Justice League disappointed at the box office and a DC Films shake-up saw Johns and Berg let go, to be replaced Walter Hamada, an executive from Warners’ sister arm New Line.
Fisher’s dissatisfaction came to light June 29 when he shared a video clip of himself at 2017’s San Diego Comic-Con praising Whedon but writing on Twitter he’d like to “retract every bit of this statement.” On July 1, the actor elaborated, calling Whedon’s behavior on set “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable.” Fisher’s remarks pushed WarnerMedia to investigate the claims, and on Aug. 20, he announced the company was looking into them. That led to a back and forth between WarnerMedia and Fisher about whether he was cooperating with the investigation (they claimed he wasn’t, but he said he was).
On Sept. 4, Fisher tweeted that Hamada, who had no connection to the previous Warners or DC film regime, had privately disparaged Whedon and Berg to him, in an effort to spare Johns. The studio responded with a statement of its own, claiming Fisher had not cooperated with the investigation, and Fisher fired back with a screenshot of an email that seemed to show he had indeed met with an investigator. He also wrote Warners “has escalated this to an entirely different level, but I’m ready to meet the challenge.” On Sept. 14, Aquaman’s Jason Momoa reignited Fisher’s claims of misconduct, writing on Instagram, “It needs to be investigated and people need to be held accountable.” Momoa’s wading into the delicate issue is said to have caught both the studio and his own team off guard as the actor and studio are preparing to shoot Aquaman 2 early next year.
Insiders recall to THR that the Justice League reshoots conducted by Whedon were a messy and hastily assembled affair. Snyder left the project in May 2017, ahead of a November release date. Whedon had to cram an extensive rewrite and reshoot and take over postproduction. One person present at the reshoots describes a set filled with tension and says the director was difficult with actors. But this person also says they did not witness physical or other abuse. Johns and Berg were under pressure, another insider notes, as they were trying to deliver a tentpole and knew their jobs were on the line. Whedon did jettison many of Fisher’s scenes, according to sources, and his directing style is described as the opposite of Snyder’s collaborative approach. It also is unclear if Fisher filed a complaint at the time.
Fisher is in talks with Warner Bros. to make a cameo in The Flash, a Justice League spinoff movie due to shoot next year. He has options negotiated for future appearances, including cameos, beyond the initial film. But in earlier drafts of the Flash script, Cyborg was a much more active player than the one in the current script. Sources say the studio exercised its option for Flash, even upping its negotiated price for what’s described as a three-scene appearance. Fisher’s side countered with a figure doubling that. Warners turned that down, and negotiations have remained stalled for weeks.
Aaron Couch and Lesley Goldberg contributed reporting.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.