Just when fans thought the controversy over Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League had been put to rest with the announcement of the release of the Snyder cut on HBO Max next year, a new ugly spat has reared its head. Ray Fisher, the actor who plays the role of Cyborg in the film, recently accused Joss Whedon, who took over directing duties from Snyder for the movie, of unprofessional behavior on set. Although Whedon has not responded yet, former Warner Bros. co-president of production Jon Berg has issued a statement to Variety claiming Fisher himself acted unprofessionally.
“I remember [Fisher] being upset that we wanted him to say ‘Booyah,’ which is a well-known saying of Cyborg in the animated series.”
The statement comes as a result of the original message Ray Fisher issued on Twitter that kickstarted the controversy, in which he specifically called out Berg and former DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer Geoff Johns.
“Joss Wheadon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable. He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Accountability>Entertainment.”
Berg has declared that it is “categorically untrue that we enabled any unprofessional behavior.” And his new accusation against Fisher’s unwillingness to utter Cyborg’s catchphrase puts the ball back in the actor’s court for a response. Interestingly, Fisher has already weighed in on the matter during a recent interview with Black Cape magazine, in which he confirmed he was indeed unwilling to use catchphrases.
“[Zack Snyder] trusted me to be like the steward or the guardian of that particular perspective. We’re dealing with a black character, number one, but we’re also dealing with a character that’s differently-abled. That’s a whole ‘nother layer. That’s ‘nother facet. That’s another representation that needs to be taken into consideration.”
“So, it was important for me, it’s important especially for them as well, that Cyborg is not just relegated to being the catchphrase spitting ‘cool Black dude’. That’s not anything that I’m interested in watching. It’s definitely not anything I’m interested in portraying.”
It was this commitment to creating an authentic voice for the character of Cyborg rather than a two-dimensional cartoon that seems to have led to Fisher clashing with studio execs over the portrayal of the superhero. The actor goes on to explain how his nuanced take on the character was muddied by the theatrical cut of Justice League, which he is hoping to see remedied in the Snyder cut.
“At the end of the day, I know how all these things go. I know how I would [feel], watching something like this if I were seeing things that are stereotypical, or you have a Cyborg screaming catchphrases every two seconds. The thing is, I know where things can get problematic. I know what it is that I, as a Black man, do not appreciate watching, right? If I’m coming from that place, then I can go ahead and better steer the conversation.”
“So, at the end of the day, I think the foundation that we built-with respect to Zack’s version of the Justice League-definitely informed what ultimately became the theatrical version.”
“But, you know, sometimes you gotta pick and choose your battles to fight. And that’s just Hollywood, period. That’s not even anything specific to this particular venture or this particular project. Like I said, when you see Zack’s version, you know…it’s a…you’ll see.”