In 2015, Marvel released their second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, directed by Joss Whedon. Black Widow, who was the only woman superhero up until then, had a storyline in the film where she considered herself a "monster" simply because she was infertile. Now, in 2022, people are realizing that the director who oversaw that choice might have a problem with women.
Whedon, who also directed DC's Justice League and created hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is now under fire for allegations brought against him for his behavior on-set. Stars Gal Gadot and Ray Fisher accused Whedon of verbal abuse while filming Justice League.
Gadot (Wonder Woman) claims that Whedon threatened her career and would verbally berate her on-set, promising to "make her character look incredibly stupid." Fisher (Cyborg), who is black, also cites "gross" and "unprofessional" behavior, where Whedon even went as far as to lighten his skin tone in post production, and cut scenes where his character defied racial stereotypes.
Whedon denies all of these accusations, insisting that Gadot simply "misunderstood him" as "English isn't her first language." He claims Fisher is simply a "bad actor," and cites that as the reason for his scenes being cut. Still, the two were not the first actors to make allegations against him.
Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia in the 90s hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was fifteen when first filming. Whedon was reportedly never allowed to be in a room alone with her during that time. She states about her experience,
"While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers. The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively."
David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar stand in solidarity with the co-star. Gellar, who played the titular character, states,
"While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon. I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out."
Whedon's ex-wife has also accused him of having multiple affairs during their marriage, some with members of the Buffy cast. In an interview with New York Magazine, Whedon claimed he felt "powerless" to resist when surrounded by beautiful young women that he just "had" to sleep with. After the interviewer laughed, Whedon felt the need to reiterate that he "wasn't actually joking".
With Justice League and Buffy long over, Hollywood must reckon with its relationship to women and people of color. Gadot and Fisher are both excited for where their careers will lead next, hopefully far away from wherever Whedon is.