Cyborg actor Ray Fisher has revealed that neither DC Films nor Warner Bros. Pictures wanted to have an “angry black man” in the centre of Joss Whedon’s take on Justice League.
For those of you who have already watched Zack Snyder’s vastly superior cut of Justice League, you may have noticed that Cyborg was not only the most fleshed out hero in the movie, but from a storytelling standpoint, also one of the film’s most important characters.
Whedon’s Justice League, however, relegated Fisher’s character to a few punchlines, a familiar catchphrase, and a happy ending that didn’t even feel earned — which is the complete opposite of what Snyder had in mind for the newcomer superhero.
As it turns out, the role of Cyborg in 2017’s Justice League was severely affected by a decision made by DC Films and Warner Bros. — who complained that Snyder’s brooding take on the DC superhero didn’t fit their standards.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fisher revealed that Justice League producer Geoff Johns told him that Cyborg only smiled twice in the movie and noted that these brief moments of happiness were rather problematic.
To make matters even worse, Fisher also mentioned that the decision to have Cyborg’s role reduced in Justice League was made by the then-DC Films co-chairman Jon Berg and Warner Bros. studio chief Toby Emmerich.
The reason? Neither Berg nor Emmerich wanted to have “an angry black man” at the centre of the Justice League.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Joss Whedon’s take on Justice League are, almost literally, night and day in regards to the tone. Unsurprisingly, Whedon’s cut of the film is brighter and more uplifting as a result of the studio’s intervention.
According to Fisher, Geoff Johns’ publicist Howard Bragman told him that all discussions about Justice League centred around “adding joy and hopefulness to all six superheroes.”
“There are always conversations about avoiding any stereotype of race, gender or sexuality,” Bragman also added.
After Whedon took over from Snyder, Johns suggested to Fisher that he played Cyborg like a kindhearted Quasimodo as opposed to Frakenstein’s monster, although the actor reveals that he was reluctant to the idea.
“I didn’t have any intention of playing him as a jovial, cathedral-cleaning individual,” Fisher told The Hollywood Reporter.
A representative for Johns countered that “Geoff gave a note using a fictional character as an example of a sympathetic man who is unhappy and has an inclination to hide from the world, but one whom the audience roots for because he has a courageous heart.”
This is when things take a turn for the worse, as Fisher took offence to the fact that Johns wanted this black character to act a certain way, without taking advice from the actor himself, who is a black man.
While Johns has written Cyborg during his New 52 Justice League run, Fisher believed that writing the character for the comicbook is different than writing the character for a movie, especially if it is a white person writing a black character.
“It was like he was assuming how Black people would respond rather than taking the advice from the only Black person — as far as I know — with any kind of creative impact on the project,” Fisher explained. “That was the last creative conversation about anything that Geoff Johns and I had. I knew I was on my own.”
According to Johns’ representative Howard Bragman, Fisher knew that Johns “had evolved traditionally all-white DC properties like Shazam, Justice Society of America and others into diverse groups of heroes” during his tenure as a writer for DC Comics.
It doesn’t stop there, though, since Fisher also mentions that tension arose when the studio required that he said “booyah” in one of the reshoots for Justice League — the catchphrase coined by Cyborg on the Teen Titans animated series.
Fisher reveals that Johns did approach Snyder about including Cyborg’s catchphrase in the movie, but the director declined. Eventually, the line did end up making it into Whedon’s cut of the movie.
“It seemed weird to have the only Black character say that,” Fisher explained, while also mentioning that it isn’t the word itself that was a problem, but rather the fact that he was the only one who had one.
In regards to the “booyah” catchphrase being added to Whedon’s version of Justice League, Johns’ representative mentioned that the studio thought the line was fine, as it was “a fun moment of synergy.”
Fisher goes on to reveal that, before reshoots began, it was Joss Whedon who brought up the issue again. Fisher further noted that he did tell Whedon that he wasn’t keen on giving Cyborg a catchphrase, though after this conversation, the the topic was seemingly dropped.
It wasn’t until the then-DC co-chairman Jon Berg took Fisher to dinner and told him that “This is one of the most expensive movies Warners has ever made,” that the subject was once again brought up.
“What if the CEO of AT&T has a son or daughter, and that son or daughter wants Cyborg to say ‘booyah’ in the movie and we don’t have a take of that? I could lose my job,” Berg said, according to Fisher.
Fisher told The Hollywood Reporter that he knew the line would end up in Whedon’s Justice League if he shot the scene, expressing that he was skepticalof Berg’s declaration that the fate of the movie rested on his character uttering the catchphrase thatcoined by Cyborg’s animated counterpart.
Well, Fisher was right. Cyborg’s “booyah” catchphrase is in Whedon’s cut of Justice League, and it didn’t save the film from being a box office flop — not to mention a mediocre film as a whole. But it is concerning that he keeps trying to blame Johns for these issues at any chance he’s got.
Perhaps there’s more to this than the actor is letting on, but we’ll just have to wait until more information about this is officially released by the ones involved.
What do you make of Ray Fisher’s comments on DC Films, Warner Bros., and Geoff Johns? Let us know in the comments section down below or on social media.