Was Leaving The Nevers the Price Joss Whedon Paid for Justice League?

Okay, so if you're here then you know we have a theory about Joss Whedon, HBO's upcoming Victorian sci-fi superhero series The Nevers that he used to be a part of, and the fallout from the investigation into Whedon's on-set activity during the filming of WarnerMedia's Justice League. Basically, we're gathering everyone around to warm their hands by our dumpster fires of speculation. Because when you look at the timing and how certain things played out, would it be that much of a stretch to theorize that part of Whedon's punishment for Justice League was losing his HBO series?

"The Nevers": Joss Whedon Tweets Principal Photography Start on Upcoming HBO Sci-Fi Drama
(The Nevers Image: Kathy Hutchins-Shutterstock.com/HBO)

Here's a quick look back at the timeline. On July 1, Justice League actor Ray Fisher aka Cyborg took to Twitter to accuse Whedon of being abusive on the 2017 set not long after Whedon took over from Zack Snyder (who left the production due to a family tragedy), and that two other executives helped enable Whedon's alleged actions. WarnerMedia opened an investigation into Fisher's allegations, but in early September the company claimed that Fished wasn't cooperating with third-party investigators Fisher denied those claims, while friends co-stars such as Jason Mamoa began publically supporting Fisher and demanding WarnerMedia take action.

Then on November 24, word came down from Whedon that he was stepping away from The Nevers. Whedon cited "the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic" as being a major factor in his decision. "This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing the Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer. I am genuinely exhausted and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change," Whedon wrote in his own statement.

Whedon continued, "I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I'm grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. The Nevers is a true labor of love, but after two-plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade." HBO confirmed in a statement that it had parted ways with the show's creator, writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner. "We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere," wrote the cable network in a statement.

Fisher would agree to reprise his portrayal of Cyborg in Snyder's upcoming four-hour miniseries version of Justice League for HBO Max, which Snyder says will be his true vision for the film (and interestingly enough, will be jettisoning Whedon's contributions) when it premieres in 2021. On December 11, WarnerMedia announced that they had concluded its investigation into Fisher's claims. Fisher took to Twitter to share with everyone what had been shared with him from the corporation- and make sure to check out the reference to "remedial action" at the beginning.

Okay, now that we've gone over that? Here's the speculation. With the accusations between WarnerMedia and Fisher over Fisher's cooperation happening on September 4, that means WarnerMedia's third part investigation was already underway. Now flash ahead over two months, to the third week of November when Whedon and WarnerMedia parted ways. From an investigation timeline standpoint, that would put it at most likely three months- a pretty decent amount of time to come up with some conclusions for the investigating group to report.

So what if what WarnerMedia heard pretty much confirmed Fisher's accusations- and then some? Was Whedon given a face-saving option to back out of The Nevers on his own terms instead of outright terminating him for the show he created? Was that one of the "remedial" actions WarnerMedia was referencing (especially with the "some we've seen" line). What was released at the time news of Whedon's departure as released sounded more like "A Tale of Two Press Statements"- with one glaring difference. While Whedon took an emotional deep-dive in his statement, HBO's statement kept things cooly neutral towards Whedon- not even a wish of good luck with his future. In fact, the statement only seemed to come alive when HBO wanted everyone to know that the series was still set for next summer.

Though we know that WarnerMedia and Fisher shared that the investigation had ended and they had communicated on December 11, once again we have to assume the investigation had wrapped sometime well before then after formal findings/recommendations were submitted by the investigators. once again, the timelines would line up- especially if WarnerMedia was looking for some "cushion time" between the Whedon move and announcing the investigation's end. Once again, all of this is pure speculation and nothing more- but the whole scenario does leave a number of questions unanswered. Still, it could very well have played out exactly as we've seen, with Whedon looking to step away for a number of personal reasons.

One thing of note we came across in October was an interview with Nick Frost, in support of Amazon Prime's Truth Seekers. The actor was asked what it was like working with Whedon on the HBO Series, and while we think it was an attempt to sound positive and supportive on Frost's part? Let's just say that it paints a rather "unique" picture of his experience. "Joss is amazing — like as a person, not as a director. He's really giving and generous of spirit and of time. But when he's on set, he's so driven and focused and mumbly. And a lot of the time it's like, 'Oh my god, I'm not sure what you want!' Especially when you've got a face mask on as well. It's a kind of amazing way to work," Frost explained. "But I love it. I love the character, and I think people are just gonna fucking love it. It's complicated and it's fresh."

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.