Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon has unexpectedly departed his upcoming HBO series, The Nevers. The revelation arrived in what some viewed as a “holiday news dump” just before Thanksgiving this week, and both Whedon and HBO’s statements on his exit had notably different vibes.
Whedon had been working on The Nevers at HBO for two years with Buffy and Angel alums Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie. The series stars Outlander’s Laura Donnelly, and focuses on a group of women in Victorian times who fight enemies with their strange abilities.
Usually a steady presence on Twitter, writer-director Whedon hadn’t tweeted anything for over a fortnight, and on late Wednesday when news broke that he and HBO had parted ways on The Nevers, HBO’s statement was objectively brief and certainly lacking in ‘best wishes’ for the show’s creator.
“We have parted ways with Joss Whedon,” HBO’s statement to THR read. “We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021.”
Meanwhile, Whedon had more to say on the matter, penning a statement that insisted he was simply “stepping back” from The Nevers due to a mix of exhaustion and a better “perspective” on his life thanks to the fluctuating events of 2020.
“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,” Whedon wrote.
He added “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. 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.”
After THR posted the news, there were mixed reactions to the story. One Twitter user noted that the joyful views some people were sharing about Whedon’s exit just showed “how people love to see a career destroyed” while another wrote “he was fired I know it you know it we all fuckin know it! We know the game and you can’t fool us with this PR bullshit”.
Justice League star Ray Fisher, who has been campaigning throughout the year for Warner Media to investigate allegations that Whedon and DC Films executive Geoff Johns created an abusive and toxic workplace during reshoots on the 2017 film in what he sees as a bid to end “the cover-up culture of old Hollywood”, declared that Whedon’s exit from The Nevers was “undoubtedly a result” of an investigation into his past behaviour.
Those who still love Whedon’s previous work seemed unhappy with the situation, but some accepted that it was better to make sure that the facts came to light around any impropriety regardless.
Others wondered why more of Whedon’s former colleagues weren’t jumping to his defense.
Whedon’s career has been in a bit of a tailspin since his ex-wife, Kai Cole, published an essay accusing him of multiple infidelities spanning 15 years, and claiming he had been hypocritically spouting feminist rhetoric while misusing his power over women behind the scenes. A spokesperson for Whedon later said Cole’s essay contained “inaccuracies and misrepresentations.”
Fans of director Zack Snyder, who tend to believe that Whedon’s work on Justice League ‘ruined’ Snyder’s DC team-up film, have this year been successful in their aim to push Warner Bros. into allowing Snyder to restart work on his own version of the project, and it is set to be unveiled in several parts on HBO Max in 2021.
A swathe of Snyder Cut enthusiasts celebrated what they saw as another victory in Whedon’s departure from The Nevers, despite a fair few of them having somewhat contradictory views on ‘cancel culture’, a complex issue that can sometimes just be regarded as ‘consequences’ when wrongdoing and poor behaviour have been genuine factors in history’s myriad career-affecting revelations.
Ladies, gentlemen, others …it’s a mess out there. But during a holiday where a lot of people traditionally end up fighting with their family, would you expect anything less?