Why There’s An #IStandWithRayFisher Hashtag
The lingering outrage and disappointment with Joss Whedon’s redirection of Justice League isn’t just a matter of fan outrage with the disservice done to the characters of the DC Universe, or of “Zack stan” outrage on behalf of Snyder over the disservice done to his original vision and career.
The cast and crew of the original shoot were very close with Zack Snyder, and together were very aligned in their vision for the project. Ray Fisher, the actor who portrayed Victor Stone aka Cyborg, was reported as being deeply involved in the conception of the plot and his character’s story. This makes sense only after viewing Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Cyborg’s journey is central to the plot, and truly lives up to Snyder’s claim it is “the heart and soul of the movie.”
This wasn’t the case with the theatrical release, at all. With clear basis of comparison, we can see that the meaty character arcs cut from the theatrical release of Justice League are almost exclusively those of the black characters in the film.
“The erasure of people of color from the 2017 theatrical version of Justice League was neither an accident nor coincidence.”Ray Fisher, interview with Sheraz Farooqi, Forbes – Interview: Ray Fisher Speaks Out On “Toxic” Set And WarnerMedia Investigation Into Justice League Production – Oct. 29, 2020
The most pronounced and dramatic arc in Zack Snyder’s Justice League charts Victor Stone’s progress accepting the results of his accident and forgiving his father Silas Stone (played by Joe Morton) for unleashing the alien technology of the Mother Box onto him to save his life, inadvertently transforming him into a super-powered half-man, half-machine. Morton’s portrayal of Silas Stone was significantly reduced in both size and importance to the story in the theatrical release as well, cutting his vital self-sacrifice that allows the hero team to find and stop the villains in the film (although Morton celebrates the consolation prize of his character’s survival of the film). His character’s wife Elinore Stone (played by Karen Bryson), also a scientist, was completely cut from the theatrical release, including pivotal scenes of the car accident which killed her and critically injured Victor. Understandably, her public support of the #SnyderCut is much clearer:
Ray Fisher has voiced very specific concerns and accusations since mid-2020 regarding the re-shoot direction by Joss Whedon and supervision by John Berg and Geoff Johns under the overall direction of studio chairman (president at the time) Toby Emmerich… concerns that have nothing to do with his personal stake in the reduction of his part in the movie. After all, the HBO Max announcement of the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League came in May of 2020, before Fisher began to open up about his experience on Twitter. Fisher himself made it clear in a virtual “Justice con” event in July 2020 that it took him the intervening time to build his case sufficiently, as covered by comicbookmovie.com:
“It’s taken me two and a half years to get all the information I need to be able to build that something that’s strong enough so people can’t dismiss it,” he continued, making it sound like there’s definitely more to come. “We’re gonna get to the heart of everything. And if anything I said about that man is untrue, I invite him wholeheartedly to sue me for libel, to sue me for slander.”Josh Wilding, comicbookmovie.com – JUSTICE LEAGUE Star Ray Fisher Welcomes Joss Whedon To “Sue Me For Slander” If Anything He’s Said Is Untrue – July 26, 2020
As to any additional delay in airing his allegations, Fisher contends that he was only made aware of the behind-the-scenes racially insensitive conversations among the re-shoot production team regarding the movie once he began airing his concerns about Joss Whedon on Twitter, as he summarizes in a Forbes interview.
And yet according to the Hollywood Reporter, WB’s sources (not cited by name) amazingly contended that Fisher’s Twitter accusations were timed after the announcement of Zack Snyder’s Justice League as part of a play to the public for future control of the direction of the DC films properties:
By late June 2020, Fisher went public with his dissatisfaction at what he viewed as Warners’ inaction. For their part, Warners sources contend that Fisher was being manipulated by Snyder, who hoped to reclaim control of the DC film universe.
Fisher says that “the assertion that a Black man would not have his own agency is just as racist as the conversations [Warners leadership] was having about the Justice League reshoots. I’ve been underestimated at every turn during this process and that is what has led us to this point. Had they taken me as seriously as they should have from the beginning, they would not have made as many foolish mistakes as they did in the process.” Snyder denies any role in influencing Fisher.Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter – Ray Fisher Opens Up About ‘Justice League,’ Joss Whedon and Warners: “I Don’t Believe Some of These People Are Fit for Leadership” – April 6, 2021
Fisher’s Twitter feed eventually accused the studio of a high-level, hidden, cynical, and intentional racial insensitivity during the re-shoots, resulting in a movie intentionally re-engineered into one with far less diversity than the one Snyder shot. The theatrical cut of Justice League not only greatly reduced the significance and screen-times of the roles played by Fisher and Morton, but also completely cut characters like the aforementioned Elinore Stone, Iris West (played by Kiersey Clemons), and Ryan Choi from the film, all of which were played by members of racial minorities in the United States.
To be fair, not every character cut from the film is a U.S. person of color. Some citizens of Apocalypse and Atlantis were also cut.
Now that we’ve seen Zack Snyder’s Justice League, however, it becomes very clear that if Victor Stone’s full filmed story had been released into theaters intact within Justice League in 2017, the film would have been the first of the modern crop of big budget superhero movies to focus on a transformative and primary character arc for black superhero. Instead, Marvel’s Black Panther would release the following summer in 2018 and break the billion dollar box office barrier doing exactly that, only more emphatically and intentionally so.
Once again, chagrin.
Warner Brothers may want the loss of a meaty part to be the general perception of Fisher’s grievance, but in April The Hollywood Reporter published a deep exploration of Fisher’s allegations and complaints with both the original re-shoot process and the subsequent investigation by the studio into its own improprieties.
Fisher contends there was condescension and abuse applied by Whedon, enabled by Johns and Berg, not only to Fisher but to all the actors recalled for the re-shoots. The article details how early conversations about the changes to the film’s interpretation of the characters between Fisher and Johns went poorly, with Johns stonewalling Fisher’s concerns, and Fisher reporting taking offense to the tone of the conversation.
Once Whedon got involved, Fisher says that Johns told him that it was problematic that Cyborg smiled only twice in the movie. Fisher says he later learned from a witness who participated in the investigation that Johns and other top executives, including then-DC Films co-chairman Jon Berg and Warners studio chief Toby Emmerich, had discussions in which they said they could not have “an angry Black man” at the center of the film.Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter – Ray Fisher Opens Up About ‘Justice League,’ Joss Whedon and Warners: “I Don’t Believe Some of These People Are Fit for Leadership” – April 6, 2021
Over the months he has been commenting on the matter on Twitter, Fisher has been clear his issues with the re-shoot production are not limited to Whedon’s mean-spirited on set behavior. Nonetheless, reading through the account of Whedon’s offenses against Fisher, I definitely recognize a certain “big director” versus “little actor” dynamic at play, with the director throwing his weight around and name-dropping the big actors like Robert Downey Jr. from which he had refused to accept notes when confronted with Fisher’s criticisms of the rewrites.
Fisher’s account of the furor over the shot of Cyborg’s “booyah” line is perfectly emblematic of the conflict: encountering the line in the reshoot script after Snyder had emphatically declined to include it in his own, Fisher felt it seemed “weird” to imbue his character alone with a catch-phrase (as we have seen with black sitcom characters so many times in the past) in a film that had previously treated both the character and his internal conflict seriously. At the time, Fisher’s agent reached out to Toby Emmerich, WB’s Motion Picture Studio President at the time, about concerns with the script.
Emmerich, in response, apparently made it clear that in the studio’s view, the popularity of a catch-phrase (which had only ever appeared in the animated Teen Titans TV series) justified additional pressure applied to Fisher to get the shot. In response to clear direction from Emmerich, this additional pressure was then applied via an arranged meeting with Geoff Johns:
Fisher said at that meeting he felt he was being threatened to toe the line and do what he was told.
According to Fisher, Johns told him that having his agent call Emmerich was “just not cool.”
“[Johns] said, ‘I consider us to be friends’ — which he knew we were not — ‘and I just don’t want you to make a bad name for yourself in the business,'” Fisher said.Jason Guerrasio, insider.com – Former DC Films head Geoff Johns denies ever threatening Ray Fisher over ‘Justice League’ catchphrase – Apr. 7, 2021
…via a dinner discussion with Jon Berg:
“This is one of the most expensive movies Warners has ever made,” Berg said, according to Fisher. “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.” Fisher responded that he knew if he filmed the line, it would end up in the movie. And he expressed skepticism that the film’s fate rested on Cyborg saying “booyah.”Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter – Ray Fisher Opens Up About ‘Justice League,’ Joss Whedon and Warners: “I Don’t Believe Some of These People Are Fit for Leadership” – April 6, 2021
…and via Whedon, using his apparently distinct style on set:
But he shot the take. As he arrived on set, he says, Whedon stretched out his arms and said a line from Hamlet in a mocking tone: “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you.” Fisher replied, “Joss — don’t. I’m not in the mood.” As he left the set after saying just that one phrase for the cameras, he says, Whedon called out, “Nice work, Ray.”Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter – Ray Fisher Opens Up About ‘Justice League,’ Joss Whedon and Warners: “I Don’t Believe Some of These People Are Fit for Leadership” – April 6, 2021
Yuck. It might just be my brief personal experience as a young, hopeful actor in an educational setting years ago… but the condescension via weaponized Shakespeare is just too apropos and real-world to be fabricated. I’d venture that almost every young actor has faced a similar embarrassing dressing down on behalf of some intentionally belittling director. At any level of the entertainment industry, hopeful actors are numerous and plentiful. Directors, producers, and other people who make casting decisions can exercise enormous power via a promise—or a threat—directed toward a rising actor’s career. And we’ve seen a paradigm shift with the #MeToo movement in how willing the industry has been to look away, and let its powerful people abuse both the privilege and the people under the sway of that power, when it comes to the very extreme and illegal example of sexual harassment. Misuse of this sort of power is what eventually got Kevin Tsujihara removed, after an internal investigation by WB into his improprieties.
[#MeToo has]… led to a conversation about the types of behavior that were tolerated and accepted in the movie and television industry in the past, but are now rightly deemed as being unacceptable and inappropriate conduct for the workplace.Sandy Schaefer, Screenrant – All The Joss Whedon Abuse & Misconduct Allegations Explained – Feb. 10, 2021
The abusive behavior of Whedon on the set was eventually corroborated by other cast members on Justice League, with rumors surfacing and later being confirmed by Gal Godot (who plays Wonder Woman) that Whedon threatened her career during one conflict.
A knowledgeable source says Gadot and Jenkins went to battle, culminating in a meeting with then-Warners chairman Kevin Tsujihara. Asked for comment, Gadot says in a statement: “I had my issues with [Whedon] and Warner Bros. handled it in a timely manner.”Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter – Ray Fisher Opens Up About ‘Justice League,’ Joss Whedon and Warners: “I Don’t Believe Some of These People Are Fit for Leadership” – April 6, 2021
It was also reported that Godot refused to shoot a scene in which her character was sexualized by another character falling into her bosom, a repeat by Whedon of the exact same scene included in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Godot refused to shoot the scene and so Whedon got the shot with a body double.
Whedon had already had his public image damaged by social media comments by his ex-wife revealing infidelity through inappropriate work relationships during their marriage, but eventually tales of his unprofessional and abusive on set behavior were released by other cast members from the Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Angel TV series, as extensively detailed in this survey by Screenrant.
So it’s easy to picture Whedon threatening Fisher’s career, in one pompous and oblique way or another. The conversations reported between Fisher and Geoff Johns, however, clearly contain a warning. But was that warning intended as a threat? Or was Johns’ true intent to relay a friendly warning that Fisher had broken rank going directly to Emmerich?
Clearly Emmerich didn’t deign to answer Fisher’s complaints himself, preferring to send subordinates to do so. It’s a successful tactic for him, judging merely by the fact that, unlike so many of those subordinates, he has retained his position throughout all the Justice League controversy.
By the time Fisher went public on Twitter with his allegations in mid-2020, Kevin Tsujihara, the CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment at the time of both shoots of Justice League and longtime boss of his loyal studio Chairman Emmerich, had long since been investigated and ousted for “casting couch” style impropriety in March of 2019, as reported by Variety. Before that, in January 2018 after the disappointing box office results of the theatrical release of Justice League, WB shuffled its film executive positions, and Emmerich appointed Walter Hamada, a veteran New Line and Tri-Star Cinema executive, as president of the division handling motion picture adaptations of D.C. Entertainment properties (still ostensibly named D.C. Films with no public-facing branding).
In mid-2020, in response to Fisher’s accusations airing on Twitter, Hamada held what would turn out to be a disastrous meeting with Fisher, wherein Fisher would later allege that Hamada tried to push the blame towards Whedon and Berg and convince Fisher to relent in his accusations against Johns:
In early July, Fisher spoke with Walter Hamada, who had taken the reins at DC Films. He says Hamada “called Joss an asshole,” and said, “I’m just looking to get past anything to do with Justice League. Joss isn’t here anymore and I don’t plan on hiring him again.” But according to Fisher, Hamada said he did not believe Johns had done anything wrong. “I don’t know Jon Berg very well. I know Joss was difficult. But Geoff — Ray, he’s really getting dragged through the mud and I’m sure you’re getting your share of hate, too.” Fisher responded, “I’m fine with the hate because I know I’m telling the truth.” He asked for an investigation.Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter – Ray Fisher Opens Up About ‘Justice League,’ Joss Whedon and Warners: “I Don’t Believe Some of These People Are Fit for Leadership” – April 6, 2021
Following Fisher’s meeting with Hamada and an internal investigation, five weeks later in August Warner Brothers would initiate another investigation via a “trusted” (and previously used) third-party investigator that would conclude in November of that year. It was then that WB took what they called “remedial actions” which they have never specified, with which Fisher was not satisfied. Fisher had issues with the investigators selected and the impartiality of the investigation, given that Hamada had seemingly indicated his intent for its result in the very conversation where Fisher requested it.
The conclusion of this investigation subsequently opened the floodgates for all the interviewed witnesses to then be released from their NDA’s and able to speak freely to Fisher. This had led to the further detailing of the series of conversations reported between John, Berg, Emmerich and others about the “angry black man” at the center of the film, which has led to more accusations and acrimony on Twitter all the way up through the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max in March of 2021, and beyond.
The only observable effect of WB’s “remedial actions” is limited to their parting ways with Joss Whedon, whom had been developing the television series The Nevers for HBO. Whedon, however, is publicly still on the record as stepping down from the show due to exhaustion and the challenges of filming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jon Berg had already left his executive position at Warner Brothers nearly four years earlier; he was one of the first of the Justice League producers to leave his position December 2017 after the release and financial performance of the film, and Hamada was the replacement for his position in the production team with Johns. Berg was a long-time producer, who was not only a conduit to Batman actor Ben Affleck but a writer and producer in his own right that penned a few episodes for the DC television properties. Berg secured the position under Emmerich after bringing the Will Farrell hit Elf to the studio, and he would return to a producer position on the lot. To his credit, has been the only individual to reach out to Ray Fisher and apologize for his role in Fisher’s experience:
Fisher then got a call from Berg, who said he was sorry the actor had an “appalling experience” on Justice League and he hadn’t been able to help. Acknowledging that “a bunch of straight white men” had been running things, he said he hoped the studio would improve on that in the future. Berg said he had spoken to the investigator at length and truthfully. “I let him know that it did mean a lot,” Fisher says. “I’m not beyond forgiveness when it comes to this kind of stuff. It was a very big thing for him to do. No one else in the process has reached out at all.”Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter – Ray Fisher Opens Up About ‘Justice League,’ Joss Whedon and Warners: “I Don’t Believe Some of These People Are Fit for Leadership” – April 6, 2021
Accordingly, Fisher has lately removed Berg from most of his tweets and accusations as 2021 has rolled on. Fisher’s public dissatisfaction with Warner’s investigation and response has since persisted, largely due to Warner’s lack of response regarding and/or repercussions for Toby Emmerich, Walter Hamada, and Geoff Johns.
Arguably one can speculate it has also persisted because none of those other men have chosen to apologize to Fisher, as well.
The Problem with Geoff Johns
Geoff Johns was not only the Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment since February 2010, and also the president of the organization since 2016, but a long-time DC writer who had penned some of the most celebrated arcs in the comics company’s recent history. His multi-year contribution the comic book DC continuity has been celebrated for revitalizing underused characters and integrating neglected DC comics Silver Age ideas and premises into successful and acclaimed modern comics storylines. Since the mid-2000’s he has penned scripts and been involved in a production capacity for a number of DC comics TV adaptations including Smallville, Justice League Unlimited, and Arrow. His early producer involvement with DC film adaptations includes the ill-fated 2011 Green Lantern.
Johns had earned these chances with his successes on the comics side in renewing properties: his Green Lantern run revitalized the title with the Blackest Night arc. He’s headed successful and groundbreaking runs with The Flash and the character of Superman in Action Comics. His celebrated Flashpoint arc for the character of the Flash introduced one of the character’s most poignant storylines, and set up a complete reboot and rerelease of the DC comics continuity in September of 2011 when “the New 52” was established under DC Entertainment president Dan Didio. Under this new continuity, Johns would create a revolutionary run for Aquaman, that would revitalize the character and introduce concepts—like the Trench and the Seven Kingdoms—which would feature prominently in the Aquaman feature film that released the summer after Justice League, in the middle of 2018.
Aquaman would proceed to become the champion of the DC adaptation box office with these plot elements and a script produced and co-written by Johns, pulling in over $1.14 billion worldwide. Despite a domestic North American haul of $330m—less than that of Wonder Woman and just above that of BvS—Aquaman’s fantastic international results would propel the film into the coveted spot as the only billion-plus earner by that point in time of the “DCEU.”
Johns also helped write the relaunch of the Justice League comic series into the New 52 continuity, and reportedly was the vocal champion and proponent that ensured Cyborg was a vital founding member of the League in the new continuity, finally adding a black face to the original team. Johns has half-Lebanese ancestry and grew up in the United States, in a tight-knit immigrant community in Detroit. He has pushed for diversity and inclusion in his work as a comics writer in more ways than adding a black founding member to the Justice League:
Some may also be aware of Johns’ Arab American roots, and his deep connection with Metro Detroit’s immigrant history. His new series Geiger, his first for Image Comics, is a nod to that connection…
…the main character, Tariq Geiger, is also half-Arab, like Johns. In fact, this is the second time Johns has penned an Arab comic book character. He had previously written an Arab American from Dearborn, Simon Baz, into DC’s Green Lantern canon.Hassan Abbas, arabamericannews.com – https://www.arabamericannews.com/2021/04/06/in-geiger-geoff-johns-pens-another-arab-character-into-the-comic-world/ – Apr. 6, 2021
So it’s not so cut-and-dried taking Fisher’s accusations and passing judgment on Geoff Johns as it it with Joss Whedon. Certainly all the negative press about Whedon hit the various sites leading up the announcement and release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League in a serendipitous way for Warner Brothers promoting that release. Johns doesn’t have the history Whedon turned out to have, though some of the latter’s history has also only just now come to light and so, apparently, could anyone’s… should they have such secrets buried.
But they haven’t come to light yet, with Johns. Though the Variety article about Fisher’s allegations assembles some additional instances of reported insensitivity on behalf of Johns on the set of Syfy’s Krypton, these accounts aren’t definitive and have failed to sway vast public opinion. They haven’t traveled far beyond their mention in that article.
Fans are therefore understandably split along these lines, between Johns and Fisher in this conflict. Looking at the actual interchange between Johns and Fisher, it’s easier to find wiggle room than with Whedon in these after-the-fact quotes, that allow for misunderstanding or poor communication leading to the offense taken. One is left to try and surmise the tone and tenor of these quoted conversations, in this new era where they are partially revealed to us. The internet has brought us more and more information about these behind-the-scenes conflicts. But we are still subject to filtered information: text only, divorced from the context of recent days around the exchange, bereft of the additional reciprocal information we all glean through things like tone of voice and body language.
Yet Fisher’s complaints with Johns are not just focused on their acrimonious conversation after Fisher’s agent alerted Toby Emmerich of his issues with the script, and Emmerich in turn alerted his delegates and declined to handle the problem himself. Fisher’s efforts are trying to get at the heart of the “angry black man” conversation he has heard about, the details of which could also reflect poorly on Johns, if we could only get the full information.
Without some sort of reveal of those hidden discussions, I find it hard to condemn Johns—the least senior and least powerful executive in the room—for the decisions made as a result of that conversation. In a normal chain of command, the person at the top of a hierarchy takes ownership of the mistakes under their command. Not so, Emmerich.
Johns did not escape the fallout of the theatrical release of Justice League without some change to his career. He would step down as DC Chief Creative Officer seven months after the release of the film in June 2018 after a brief tenure as co-president of the DC films enterprise with Walter Hamada, who had replaced Jon Berg when the latter was given a graceful exit into a movie production role in the initial shakeup in December 2017 (which also led to the retirement of DC Chief Diane Nelson). Toby Emmerich alone would remain in his position, climbing, in fact, from President to Chairman of Warner Brothers Pictures Group, serving still under Kevin Tsujihara (who would be forced out nine months later):
There is an opportunity for Toby Emmerich to really reshuffle the executive deck on the feature side and turn DC into something more formidable than it is right now, even as a James Wan-directed Aquaman is coming and Wonder Woman 2 is in production, with Matt Reeves rebooting Batman for a new standalone franchise, likely with a new actor to play the Caped Crusader after Ben Affleck’s stints in Batman V Superman and Justice League.
Emmerich’s longtime genre guy at New Line, Walter Hamada, also continues at DC.Mike Fleming Jr, Deadline – Geoff Johns To Step Down As DC Chief Creative Officer; Will Get Warner Bros Producing Deal – June 11, 2018
In truth, in 2018 Emmerich reshuffled very little of his executive deck in response to the Justice League fiasco. Whedon had in the meantime been given the opportunity to develop and produce his own series for the studio. Although Jon Berg had left a position of influence over the DC properties, Hamada, already a long-time trusted associate of Emmerich’s, moved into the executive position, and Johns’ subsequent role change would be cushioned with a setup landing him in a dedicated position of developing DC comics properties for television and film.
Johns is now three years into that effort.
Immediately after taking his new production deal producing and writing for a new affiliated company called Mad Ghost Productions, Johns started script work on the reboot of the Green Lanterns franchise that had been in development hell, titled Green Lantern Corps. His television work adapting DC properties into series for the CW and streaming service would continue and expand:
A Warner Bros. spokesperson confirmed that Johns continues to work as the creator and showrunner for the CW series “Stargirl,” part of executive producer Greg Berlanti’s expansive suite of shows based on DC Comics properties. Along with co-writing the recent feature film “Wonder Woman 1984,” Johns serves as an executive producer on several other DC-based series, including “Batwoman,” “Doom Patrol,” “Titans” and the upcoming CW series “Superman & Lois.”Adam B. Vary, Variety – Geoff Johns Still Working With WarnerMedia, Despite Ray Fisher’s Claim Writer Is Leaving Studio (EXCLUSIVE) – Jan. 7, 2021
Geoff Johns also co-wrote the script with Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman 1984. This sequel, originally scheduled for release in Nov 2019, was pushed back to June 2020, and then pushed back again due to the Coronavirus pandemic and released Day One to streaming on HBO Max in December of 2020… once again more than three full years after the debut movie of the character—like with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman.
It’s clear that in July of 2020, when Hamada tried to resolve Fisher’s public complaints of mistreatment with a meeting conducted over the phone, he gave Fisher the clear impression that Whedon had already been selected as the “fall guy” for any response to Fisher’s complaint, and their trusted DC development partner Johns was not under serious consideration for any consequences. Did Hamada attempt to interfere and direct the outcome of these investigations in advance, as Fisher alleges? Or did Hamada attempt to broker an understanding with Fisher having already a clear internally-informed picture of what had transpired at the time, and who was to blame?
Again, whether or not Johns behaved in a way that should earn him professional consequences isn’t known to us. But it’s easy to understand why Fisher wouldn’t be satisfied when WB would exonerate Johns, first with an internal investigation and second using the same investigator that headed the investigation into Kevin Tsujihara himself.. and whom some might say was instrumental in keeping the heat for that incident focused on the affected individual and away from any overall culture issues at the studio.
If it was that culture, and the orders of Toby Emmerich, that has put Geoff Johns in a position just acting under direct orders like Jon Berg, then you can see more reasons accumulating for why Emmerich and Hamada would be motivated to both protect Johns and keep the details of the studio’s investigation under wraps.
In December of 2020, as WB was announcing their judgement in response to the investigation in support of Geoff Johns, audiences and critics were announcing their judgement in response the the DC movie co-written by Johns released that month: Wonder Woman 1984. The film would be spared any participation in the game of box office comparison, releasing during the pandemic to streaming on HBO Max on the same day as only a few deserted theatres due to no fault of the film. But the two-and-a-half hour film would experience a dizzying drop in its critical reception to a 59% critic rating from the 93% critic rating on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes for the character’s origin movie.
Since apparently no sin can find you judgement at Warner Brother faster than the sin of earning critical scorn with your comic book movie, it’s possible after these results that Johns may find himself done with DC cinematic adaptations after all… but for all the wrong reasons.
Certainly those who frequent both the hashtags #IStandWithRayFisher and #RestoretheSnyderVerse have found in the near-universal panning of the second Wonder Woman movie some ammunition for the long-running subtextual (and very textual on reddit and Twitter) argument over whose vision of DC cinematic adaptation best appeals to critics. Ordinarily, with judgment for success on these enterprises falling to Warner Brothers Studios management, these arguments wouldn’t carry much weight: there’s no one they help condemn except for the executives doing the judging of who is to be condemned.
But Warner Brothers Studios has been subject to merger with AT&T throughout this whole process, and its executives have been subject to both new bosses and new measurements they haven’t faced before.