Joss Whedon says Gal Gadot misunderstood him after claims of threatening career

This is the first official response the filmmaker has made since the accusations of racism and misogyny against him, denying all allegations.

 Director Joss Whedon poses at the world premiere of the film "Marvel's The Avengers" in Hollywood, California. (photo credit: REUTERS/DANNY MOLOSHOK)
Director Joss Whedon poses at the world premiere of the film "Marvel's The Avengers" in Hollywood, California.

Film director Joss Whedon has denied allegations made by Israeli actress Gal Gadot that he "threatened her career" on the set of the film Justice League, according to an official feature piece by New York magazine on Monday, stating that she had misunderstood him because "English is not her first language," criticizing the actress's level of fluency.

“I don’t threaten people. Who does that?” Whedon scoffed, also telling the magazine that he tends to be "annoyingly flowery in [his] speech.”

Whedon, 57, argued with Gadot over a scene that the actress wanted to be removed from the film, joking that if she wanted to remove the scene, she would have to "tie him to a railroad track and do it over his dead body." According to Whedon, she mistakenly thought he said over her dead body. Gadot, however, said that she understood the director perfectly, stating that she would never work with him again.

An unnamed actress who worked on Angel, one of Whedon's former shows, recalled that he used the same kind of rhetoric against her.

Gadot, 36, whose native language is Hebrew, said that the director threatened her career in an interview with N12  last May after Whedon did reshoots and made complete script changes to the Wonder Woman character.

"[He] said that if I did something, he would make sure my career was miserable and I just took care of it immediately," Gadot said in the interview.

Whedon told Gadot to read her lines as they were written exactly in the script, whereas Zack Snyder, who he replaced during the filming, encouraged them to ad-lib dialogue. The Hollywood Reporter said that Whedon made these threats because Gadot questioned the new version of the character that was presented to her. 

A witness of the clash between them said that the director "had it out” with the actress and that “he told her he’s the writer and she’s going to shut up and say the lines and he can make her look incredibly stupid in this movie.” Gadot had told him that she thinks he "didn't understand how superhero movies worked," according to Whedon.

GAL GADOT: I want to use my reach and my platforms to get to as many people and shed light on these amazing, incredible women’s stories.  (credit: JASON BELL)GAL GADOT: I want to use my reach and my platforms to get to as many people and shed light on these amazing, incredible women’s stories. (credit: JASON BELL)

THE SITE of the controversy was during the filming of the 2017 film Justice League. Whedon had replaced Snyder halfway through filming as director of the movie, because he resigned from the role to deal with a family tragedy.

The director now considers his decision to helm the DC project as "one of the biggest regrets of his life," as the film was later a critical and commercial failure upon its release. His previous experience with superhero films was directing Marvel's The Avengers in 2012 and its sequel Age of Ultron, released in 2015. 

Whedon, whom the magazine describes as a "former icon of Hollywood feminism," has now been accused of misogyny and racism by many of the film's cast. Before working with Marvel, he had been known to write strong female-centric stories such as the hit television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The director also confirmed his affairs on the set of Buffy and that he "slept with employees, fans and colleagues," despite being married at the time. He also said that he thinks he was "one of the nicer showrunners that have ever been.”

This is Whedon's first time addressing allegations of bad behavior, stating that that he had not done any wrongdoing to Gadot or to anyone else from the Justice League cast and crew.

ACTOR RAY FISHER, who played Victor Stone (aka Cyborg) in Justice League, tweeted in 2020 that Whedon's treatment of the cast and crew of the film was "gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable."

Justice League was the first major role of Fisher's career.

Whedon told the magazine that he had originally cut much of Fisher's role in the film and called him a "bad actor," whereas Cyborg was a central character in Snyder's version. He also cut down the role because he thought Snyder's version "logically made no sense." The director even paused filming at one point, saying that he "never worked with a ruder group of people." The reshoots for Justice League took approximately 40 days.

Fisher's comments on Whedon led to an investigation by Warner Media into the director's behavior on set, which saw many actors of the DC film get interviewed by officials, The Independent reported back in May.

In response to the New York magazine article, Fisher tweeted on Monday: "Looks like Joss Whedon got to direct an endgame after all…," having had the final word with this interview in his string of controversies. Fisher was referring to Endgame, the second of the latter two Avengers films that he did not direct after he and Marvel broke ties, which were instead directed by Joe and Anthony Russo.

Due to the failures of Whedon's version of Justice League, DC fans campaigned online to have Snyder's version of the film be released to the public, under the campaign "#ReleasetheSnyderCut," while criticizing Whedon for his take on the DC superhero team. Eventually, Snyder's version of the film was released to critical acclaim by Warner Bros. last year on HBO Max.

Ten years prior, Whedon was slated to direct a Wonder Woman film before the release of Justice League, but executives at Warner Brothers rejected his script.

Whedon has revealed to New York magazine that he has been in therapy for the past few years dealing with PTSD.

The last time Gal Gadot played the Amazonian hero was in Wonder Woman 1984, which came out in 2020, was met with mixed-to-negative reviews and was a box-office flop. She first played the character in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, which also received negative reviews. A third Wonder Woman movie is in development with director Patty Jenkins working with Gadot again.

Hadassah Brenner contributed to this report.