Sources confirmed that auditions for Superman's Black grandfather were underway when DC stopped it.
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When Ray Fisher decided to start being public with allegations against the working conditions on Justice League, he started talking to others who had worked with the same people. Did other people find Joss Whedon to be abusive? Did other people have negative experiences working with DC films co-chairman Geoff Johns? It turned out that Ray Fisher found a lot of witnesses who confirmed what he’d seen for himself on the Justice League set. In the case of producer Geoff Johns, one story involved his time on the Syfy show Krypton. The creators of the series were moving forward with non-traditional casting decisions. One had them doing auditions for Superman’s grandfather. However, Geoff Johns got involved and put his foot down. Superman’s grandfather wasn’t going to be Black.
This information was recently shared in a long interview Ray Fisher did with The Hollywood Reporter where he recounts his years of experience against Warner Bros. and DC. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they found multiple sources recounting these events. The creators of Krypton auditioned actors to play Superman’s grandfather, including Regé-Jean Page. The actor is now well known for his time on the Netflix show Bridgerton. The creators were also moving forward with plans for Adam Strange to be gay or bisexual when Geoff Johns put a stop to the idea.
A representative for Geoff Johns responded to The Hollywood Reporter about these incidents. According to the rep, Johns felt that audiences wouldn’t accept that Superman had a Black grandfather. He felt that Krypton’s audience was expecting to see someone who looked like a young Henry Cavill. The rep had a lot more to say about the story surrounding the plans for Adam Strange to be gay or bisexual. They recounted Geoff Johns’ history with LGBTQ characters in the 2006 DC Comics run of Batwoman, who was re-introduced as an LGBTQ character in the series he co-wrote. They also said that the producer had previously pitched Warner Bros. with a series idea that involved a lead LGBTQ superhero.
While the representative had more to say about the LGBTQ representation than the issue of Superman having a Black grandfather, the stories around Geoff Johns from others like Ray Fisher still focused on racial issues.
For example, writer Nadria Tucker had a run-in with Geoff Johns on the set of Krypton. She worked on both Krypton and Superman and Lois, making her a seasoned writer for all things Superman. She has also been involved with the controversy surrounding Johns and others at DC. On Twitter and in speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Tucker recalled when a Black actress had a hair change during the run of an episode that took place over multiple days. Geoff Johns objected to this. Writer Nadria Tucker attempted to explain to him that it is common for Black women to change their hair frequently. She told him, “It’s not weird, it’s a Black thing.” To which he responded, “No, it’s not.”
The problem with him cutting her off here was that Johns was telling a Black woman what is and is not the Black experience. In response to this, Johns says this was a continuity note for the Superman show. He failed to see Tucker’s point about the experience at hand.
These types of recollections tend to matter more as they stack up. The story of Geoff Johns vetoing Superman having a Black actor play his grandfather matters more as stories where he stood in the way of representation build. What matters more is how high that pile gets while he represents DC films.