Ray Fisher Points To Digital And Literal Whitewashing In His ‘Justice League’ Crusade

by Erik Amaya

Someday, the book on Justice League will come out and it will be riveting.

In the meantime, star Ray Fisher continues to clarify his position on the film and the reasons for speaking out against Joss Whedon and other members of the Warner Bros. staff who shepherded the film following Zach Snyder‘s departure. This time around, the actor spoke with Forbes at length about his summer-long campaign to shed light on what happened, Warner Bros. Pictures response, and what gave rise to his speaking out in the first place.

“What set my soul on fire and forced me to speak out about Joss Whedon this summer was my becoming informed that Joss had ordered that the complexion of an actor of color be changed in post-production because he didn’t like the color of their skin tone,” Fisher told the site in a recent interview. The digital whitewashing completed a picture for the actor in which almost all of the film’s diversity was scaled back. Besides Cyborg’s (Fisher) reduced screentime, actor Joe Morton — playing Cyborg’s father Silas Stone — appears in a seeming cameo while Karen Bryson (Cyborg’s mother Ellinore), Kiersey Clemons (Iris West), and Zheng Kai (Ryan Choi) saw their roles eliminated entirely. Combined with the protest against police brutality and other forms of racism over the summer, Fisher felt compelled to speak.

Although Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot represent specific ethic backgrounds, it is easy to see how a coordinated attempt to remove black and brown faces from the film may have occurred during the infamous Justice League reshoots. As you may recall, Snyder left the production to deal with a family tragedy. Whedon came on board to complete a planned series of re-shoots to add some humor to the film after a screening with executives reportedly went poorly.

Fisher points to the executives — which include Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, and Toby Emmerich — as the source of the whitewashing and the enabling of Whedon’s allegedly abusive behavior on set. “These conversations were reported to me by people in the room,” Fisher told Forbes. “And I wasn’t made aware until after I had already spoken out about Joss Whedon.” The actor also alleged changes were made to the film in a bid for the executives to remain in power after Warner Bros. merged with AT&T — an event still on the horizon at the time of the reshoots. As it happens, all three men still have roles at WarnerMedia — AT&T’s version of the old Warner companies — with Berg producing films, Johns acting as executive producer on The CW’s Stargirl, and Emmerich recently consolidating power as the whole conglomerate shifts to a streaming strategy.

Fisher went on to say “race was just one of the issues with the reshoot process. There were massive blowups, threats, coercion, taunting, unsafe work conditions, belittling, and gaslighting like you wouldn’t believe.”

While Fisher awaits the conclusion of a new investigation into the matter before he tells specific stories of Whedon’s behavior to the press, the actor is still opening a window into the way studios protect high-value assets. “My goal is to have these people not be decision makers for the content that influences our world,” he said. “These guys have been in Hollywood a long time. Their problematic behavior didn’t start with the AT&T merger, but I’ll be dammed if it doesn’t end with it.”

Meanwhile, work continues on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, an HBO Max special event which will reveal the director’s vision of the film across a four hour-long episodes. Presumably, Fisher, Clemons, Kai and the other actors’ work will be restored even as Snyder shoots new footage to expand the original scope of the film.

Erik Amaya

Host of Tread Perilously and a Film/TV Writer at Comicon.com and Rotten Tomatoes. A former staff writer at CBR and Bleeding Cool, and a contributing writer at Fanbase Press and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Voice of Puppet Tommy on The Room Responds. A seeker of the Seastone Chair and the owner of a Legion Flight Ring. Sorted into Gryffindor, which came as some surprise.

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