Joss Whedon, creator of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has stepped down from his latest project, a new series for HBO called The Nevers. While Whedon, the director of the first two Avengers films and Justice League, has one explanation for leaving the project, recent controversies are raising questions as to whether or not Whedon was forced out of the new series.
CinemaBlend received a statement from Joss Whedon, in which he gave his explanation for stepping away from The Nevers:
“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 marital 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.”
With the announcement of Joss Whedon leaving The Nevers, Ray Fisher took to Twitter, pointing out that in old Hollywood, saying someone was exiting a project was usually a way to cover up terrible behavior. Fisher also states that WarnerMedia’s investigation into Whedon’s behavior has been going for three weeks, and that this is likely a result of what was found during this investigation.
Ray Fisher probably does have a point about the odd timing of Joss Whedon leaving the project he’s worked for years to create. It’s also probably not a coincidence that HBO is an asset owned by WarnerMedia. Recently, WarnerMedia also fired Johnny Depp from the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, after the courts stipulated that there was enough evidence to consider Depp a “wife-beater.” Even if there isn’t substantial evidence against Whedon at this point in terms of his action on the Justice League set, this could also be an example of WarnerMedia attempting to distance themselves from Whedon before things go from bad to worse.
Despite Joss Whedon’s departure from the series, HBO has no plans to delay the release of The Nevers, which is still aiming for a summer 2021 release. The show looks to be a combination of science fiction and historical drama, starring Outlander’s Laura Donnelly and Vikings‘ Ann Skelly. Also filling out the cast are Ben Chaplin, Nick Frost, James Norton, Tom Riley, and Olivia Williams. It is unclear how far into development The Nevers currently is, and HBO has not made any announcement as to who will replace Whedon as showrunner.
For HBO, The Nevers is likely another series the network is hoping to replace the void left behind after the conclusion of Game of Thrones. When the series was announced in 2018, Joss Whedon stated that it was “maybe the most ambitious narrative” he had ever created. That certainly seems like the large-scale project that HBO would bank on, however, it’s unclear as of right now how this show will change without Whedon’s involvement, or who could be a fitting replacement to bring this “ambitious narrative” to life.