Ray Fisher was brand new to Hollywood when he made his big-screen debut as Cyborg in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and, had everything gone according to plan, he’d have headlined a Cyborg standalone this year. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. DC franchise has been retooled time and again after films like Justice League and Suicide Squad were rejected by both critics and a good chunk of the superhero-loving populace. Justice League, in particular, had a troubled production history, with original director Zack Snyder being replaced by Avengers’ Joss Whedon in post-production following the death of his daughter. And, nearly three years later, the issues underlying the flop continue to resurface.
On Monday, Fisher tweeted out a video of him at 2017's San Diego Comic-Con, where he praised Whedon as “a great guy” and a “good person to come in and clean up.” In his tweet, however, he declared, “I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement.”
Fisher followed up that pointed tweet with another on Wednesday: “Joss Wheadon’s [sic] on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.” Fisher adds that Whedon’s behavior was “enabled, in many ways” by Justice League producers Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. (Fisher also took a veiled swipe at Johns in a reply to a tweet from Suicide Squad director David Ayer last month.)
As of this writing, no other cast members have spoken out against Whedon, and the circumstances fueling Fisher’s words remain unclear. What is known, however, is that Cyborg’s arc was deeply impacted by Whedon’s work on the film, which is likely why the actor has been as outspoken as anyone regarding the upcoming “Snyder Cut” of Justice League.
In a 2017 IGN interview, Joe Morton, who played Cyborg’s dad in the film, revealed that a key component of Whedon’s reshoot was to alter the “tone” of the character. “Well, the stuff that I had to do were just really small little bits and pieces, nothing necessarily having to do with tone,” he said. “I know that with Ray [Fisher], the young man who plays Victor, there were some adjustments that they made in terms of the tone of that character.”
He continued, “I think what I heard was that there was a need from the studio to lighten up the film in a way, that the film felt too dark. I don’t know what that meant in terms of how it actually got translated in terms of the reshoots but that’s what I heard. That’s what I thought some of the reshoots were about.”
As early as 2017, Snyder was saying that Cyborg would be “the heart of the movie,” and just last month echoed the phrase in a reply to Fisher on Twitter, pointedly saying Fisher is “the heart of my movie” (emphasis added). Fisher, meanwhile, praised Snyder and writer Chris Terrio for “EMPOWERING me (a black man with no film credits to his name) with a seat at the creative table and input on the framing of the Stones before there was even a script!”
Needless to say, Cyborg is not the heart of Whedon’s film.
A handful of deleted scenes have surfaced since the film’s release—some by Snyder himself—that both expand upon Cyborg’s origin story and make more explicit his connection to the film’s MacGuffin-y Motherboxes.
Fisher touched on some of them in a 2017 interview with Gamespot: “There were some things that you’ll probably end up seeing later on, that didn’t make it into this version of the film. There’s a scene with Victor Stone, when he still was Victor Stone, and his mother, that was really special to shoot.”
He added, “What is great about this film going forward is you’ll be able to see him rebuild himself mentally the same way that his father rebuilt him physically. And it’s a process that’s going to take time.”
But will we see Cyborg “going forward”? His standalone movie seems to be dead in the water, with much of the recent DCEU chatter circling the long-delayed Flash movie.
Of course, that could change following the release of the seemingly Cyborg-heavy Snyder Cut on HBO Max next year. The mythic cut is described by WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt as a “radical rethinking” of Whedon’s version, though that may just be another way of saying it’s gonna cost $30 million to release it.