Between Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Astonishing X-Men, and The Avengers, Joss Whedon was once one of the most beloved figures in the fan community. However, his star soon fell when Justice League actor Ray Fisher levelled a series of allegations at the filmmaker relating to his conduct on set.
The floodgates then opened, and we soon learned that the director behind two of Marvel Studios' most successful films might not be the nice guy we all thought.
In a recent profile, Whedon finally responded to almost all of these accusations, but his comments haven't exactly changed anyone's perceptions. Essentially blaming everyone else for his issues, Joss categorically denied much of what has been said and hit back with some claims of his own.
Below, we've rounded up the most noteworthy remarks about what happened with Justice League, including responses from Fisher and Gal Gadot. We also have details on problems that occurred on the sets of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all of which paint the picture of undeniably toxic work environments.
6. Clashing With Justice League's Cast
Asked how he came to be involved with Justice League, Whedon says "They asked me to fix it, and I thought I could help." Now, he calls it one of the biggest regrets of his life, and what started as a writing and advising role soon saw him placed in the director's chair.
Whedon alleges that this came about once Warner Bros. lost faith in Snyder's vision, though the studio denies that.
Overseeing 40 days of reshoots, there was reportedly immediate tension between the filmmaker and his cast. While Snyder had given them a lot of creative control, allowing ad-libbing and improvisation, Whedon wanted them to stick to what he'd written. This was negatively received, and Whedon claims Gal Gadot suggested he didn't know how superhero movies worked despite helming billion-dollar blockbusters like The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Tensions ran so high that Whedon at one point paused the shoot and declared he had never worked with "a ruder group of people," according to one crew member.
5. Joss Whedon vs. Wonder Woman
Once upon a time, Whedon penned a screenplay for a Wonder Woman movie that has since been described as creepy and sexist. You'd think he'd have jumped at the chance to work with Gadot given his history with the character, but it sounds like they didn't get on from the start.
Responding to her allegations that he threatened her career, Whedon responds: "I don’t threaten people. Who does that? English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech." He then reflected on a scene she wanted to cut, leading to him joking that if she wanted that to happen, she'd need to tie him to a railroad track and do it over his dead body.
"Then I was told that I had said something about her dead body and tying her to the railroad track," he added, leading to Gadot issuing a blunt response to Whedon's claims.
"I understood perfectly," she says. "I will never work with him and would never suggest any of my peers to work with him in the future."
4. Responding To Ray Fisher
Ray Fisher was the first to bring attention to Whedon's on-set behaviour during Justice League's reshoots, and the director claims to have been "stunned" by the actor saying he lightened the skin tone of Black actors during post-production.
The director says there were two reasons he cut down Fisher's Cyborg role. The first was the storyline "logically made no sense" to him, while the second was that Whedon felt his acting was bad (a sentiment fans and critics don't agree with after the overwhelmingly positive response to his work in Zack Snyder's Justice League).
The site has spoken to sources claiming that test screenings saw Cyborg named "the worst of all the characters in the film," so we're not sure what changed there. Regardless, Whedon says he spent hours having "friendly and respectful" conversations with Fisher, and argues that none of the allegations made are "either true or merited discussing."
As for what led to Fisher speaking out, it appears he blames Snyder. "We’re talking about a malevolent force. We’re talking about a bad actor in both senses." Later he'd say, "I don’t know who started it. I just know in whose name it was done."
3. Whedon Hits Back At The Fans
Fisher gave many of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut supporters the ammunition they needed to try and convince Warner Bros. to restore Snyder's original vision for Justice League (a plan that ultimately worked).
Whedon believes that those who started attacking him online "don’t give a f**k about feminism," and says he was "made a target by my ex-wife, and people exploited that cynically. She put out a letter saying some bad things I’d done and saying some untrue things about me, but I had done the bad things and so people knew I was gettable."
As for how he feels now about the way his once faithful fandom have turned their back on him, Whedon adds: "The beginning of the internet raised me up, and the modern internet pulled me down. The perfect symmetry is not lost on me."
The director is certainly playing the victim here, but how does he feel about those Buffy and Marvel allegations?
2. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Controversy
On the MCU side of things, no one has ever really spoken negatively about Whedon. In fact, he was featured heavily in The Story of Marvel Studios book, which is not surprising given his involvement with the company, but also something of a shock after the allegations surrounding him in recent years.
Erin Shade met Whedon in 2013 after becoming a showrunner's assistant on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "He was 49; she was 23 and a virgin," reads the report. "One day, Whedon texted her with an unusual request: Would she come over to his house for the weekend to watch him write? He would pay $2,500 more than Shade made in a month as an assistant. There was one caveat: She had to hide it from her bosses."
They dated on and off for a year before she slept with him, though Whedon would later email her to say he couldn't have a girlfriend. Years later, she reflected on his abuse of power and, to that, he simply says he "should have handled the situation better."
Throughout the piece, Whedon talks about a traumatic childhood and reveals that he felt he had to have sex with the younger women he worked with because of an addiction that meant he feared he'd always regret not doing so. Now, he looks back at that time with "horror."
1. Those Buffy The Vampire Slayer Allegations
As controversial as those Justice League reshoots might be, much has been said about what happened on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well. Costume designer Cynthia Bergstrom says a disagreement with Whedon over Sarah Michelle Gellar's wardrobe choice led to him grabbing her arm and digging his fingers in until she pointed out he was hurting her.
A Firefly writer says Whedon mocked a female scriber mercilessly for 90 minutes after deeming her work as not being up to par, and the filmmaker's response...it's not great, folks. "I was young," he argues. "I yelled, and sometimes you had to yell. If I am upsetting somebody, it will be a problem for me. I don’t believe that. I know I would get angry, but I was never physical with people."
Responding to Charisma Carpenter's many allegations (particularly in regards to her pregnancy), Whedon admits: "I was not mannerly. Most of my experiences with Charisma were delightful and charming. She struggled sometimes with her lines, but nobody could hit a punch line harder than her. I did not call her fat. Of course I didn’t."
You can read much more by heading to Vulture for their full report.