Top 10 Shocking DC Scandals
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Top 10 Shocking DC Scandals

VOICE OVER: Rudolph Strong WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Alexander
Unlike it's squeaky clean comic book competition, DC is far from perfect. For this list, we'll be looking at the craziest controversies to have rocked the DC brand over the years. Our countdown includes Method Acting Gone Too Far?, Amber Heard's Brand Sinks, The Ezra Miller Situation, and more!

Top 10 Shocking DC Scandals

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking DC Scandals.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the craziest controversies to have rocked the DC brand over the years.

What’s been DC’s biggest mistake? Sound off in the comments!

#10: Joss-tice League <.h4>
Despite some heroic efforts behind the scenes, 2017’s “Justice League” movie couldn’t even make it out of filming before finding trouble. The original director, Zack Snyder, stepped down midway through production due to an unfortunate family tragedy. His replacement, Joss Whedon, had a much lighter tone in mind for the feature. It didn’t blend well with the gritty footage already shot, and the film’s mismatched tone led to a tepid audience response. To make matters worse, Superman actor Henry Cavill had grown out a mustache for his role in the new "Mission Impossible" film. Since it overlapped with “Justice League” reshoots, the VFX team had to digitally remove it from his face in post-production. It looked rough, to put it lightly.

#9: An Open & Shut Refrigerator

This one led to a whole new term in popular culture: namely, ‘women in refrigerators’, or ‘fridging’. In an attempt to humanize Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, DC decided to off his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt. Not only was she unceremoniously killed without warning, her body was then crammed into a fridge. It sparked a larger conversation about the treatment of female characters within storytelling. To this day, the idiom is shorthand for stories that turn the tragic misfortunes of female characters into mere plot devices for male protagonists.

#8: Method Acting Gone Too Far?

Even for an Academy Award winning actor, stepping into the sadistic mind of the Joker is no easy feat. When Jared Leto was cast as the terrifying villain, he reportedly got a bit too far into character. He claimed to have given castmates used contraceptives, although later said he was just joking. He also gifted Margot Robbie a rat. Contrary to rumors, it was very much alive, and according to Robbie became a “beloved pet”. Still, the stories around Leto’s behavior were not exactly well-received. One thing is for sure, Leto gave a memorable performance both behind and in front of the camera.

#7: Shakeupes, Layoffs & Rehires

The creative team behind some of DC’s biggest characters have rotated in and out about as much as the Justice League changes members. Which is a lot. The company has had issues maintaining talent in the past, but it all came to a head in 2020. Due to the massive restructuring of DC’s parent company, WarnerMedia, nearly a third of the comic division’s editorial staff was laid off. The casualties didn’t stop there, and even the branch’s editor-in-chief was fired in the chaos. Fans were rightly upset that some of DC’s best storytellers were cut, but there wasn’t much they could do except support those lucky enough to stay.

#6: Harley’s Quinn-tessential Drawing Contest

Joker’s on-and-off-again girlfriend is one of the most recognizable female characters in comic book history. In 2013, DC hosted a contest for wannabe comic artists to submit four drawings of Harley Quinn, with the winner hopefully breaking into the business. But one of the drawings had to feature Quinn nude in the bath surrounded by electrical devices. The haunting implications caused considerable backlash, especially given the character’s frequent sexualization. Critics called it a prime example of the eroticization of violence against women … and we gotta admit, it’s hard to imagine them requiring a drawing of Joker in the same context! Incidentally, this came just a week after the authors of “Batwoman” quit, accusing DC of prohibiting a same-sex marriage storyline. It was not a good month for the company.

#5: Amber Heard’s Brand Sinks

If somehow you missed the drama around the Depp v. Heard trial, you might be surprised by the lack of Mera in the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel. After playing a prominent leading role in the first film, the Atlantean’s time on the high seas has been pared down due to the controversy surrounding actress Amber Heard. After Heard accused ex-husband Johnny Depp of domestic violence, Depp countered with the same accusation, leading to damaging revelations in a highly publicized trial. Not even a trip to Atlantis could clean off those stains. Heard has stated that her role in the sequel was significantly reduced as a result.

#4: DC’s Identity Crisis

It’s ironic that the name of this maligned miniseries is also what the brand was clearly suffering from. The seven-issue long story arc managed to make the Justice League hard to root for, which is kind of impressive. Part of the problem was “Identity Crisis’” treatment of the assault and murder of Elongated Man’s wife Sue Dibny, in what could arguably be described as yet another case of ‘fridging’. Also controversial were the heroes’ unheroic actions, such as Zatanna’s use of her powers to mind wipe certain villains, and even Batman himself when he disagreed with what Zatanna was doing. For longtime fans, it just didn’t match up with the heroes they were used to.

#3: Batgirl Is Benched

Movies get canceled all the time - but not after they’ve already been made! In April 2022, WarnerMedia merged with Discovery, leading to a sweeping shakeup of management. One of CEO David Zaslav’s first actions was to cancel upcoming projects, including the live-action “Batgirl” movie for HBO Max starring Leslie Grace. Costing $90 million, the movie was basically complete. Zaslav wanted to refocus on blockbuster releases, and reportedly use the film as a tax write off. The cast and crew only learned of the cancellation after the story broke in the media! The move was unprecedented for not only DC, but all of the film industry.

#2: Ray Fisher’s Allegations

Unfortunately, a botched release and disappointing box-office wasn’t the end of the 2017 “Justice League’s” issues. In 2020, Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg, accused replacement director Joss Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior on set. It drew the support of many fans and even Wonder Woman co-star Gal Gadot. The issue compounded after the original director, Zack Snyder, released his cut of the film. By comparison, it seemed like many of Fisher’s integral scenes were absent from Whedon’s version. The mounting pressure led parent company Warner Bros to issue an official investigation, and while their findings have not been publicly divulged, they reportedly took “remedial action.”

#1: The Ezra Miller Situation

“The Flash” movie is going to have a very interesting press tour. That’s if they manage to release it at all. Since 2020, leading star Ezra Miller has been embroiled in controversy after controversy. Accusations of assault, burglary, and grooming have left fans uneasy about supporting Miller’s future as the scarlet speedster. The movie has already finished filming, and is reportedly deep in post-production. But, that didn’t save “Batgirl,” and it may not be enough for “The Flash,” either.