By James Hibberd
November 25, 2020 at 08:15 PM EST
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Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Joss Whedon is stepping down from his upcoming HBO drama series.

The writer-director is leaving The Nevers, his quasi-superhero series centered on a group of young women in Victorian-era England.

"We have parted ways with Joss Whedon," HBO confirmed in a statement Wednesday. "We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021."

The move comes amid a controversy surrounding Whedon's time directing the Justice League reshoots for Warner Bros. Actor Ray Fisher has publicly accused Whedon of "abusive, unprofessional" behavior on the set of the 2017 film, and his claims are being investigated by the studio. (Whedon and WB have disputed some of Fisher's allegations.) Warner Bros. and HBO are both owned by WarnerMedia.

The Nevers was going to mark the return of Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) to television after spending several years working on big-screen projects, such as writing and directing Marvel's first two Avengers movies.

Whedon also released this statement, first reported by Cinemablend: "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 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."

Here's HBO's official description of The Nevers: "In the last years of Victoria's reign, London is beset by the 'Touched:' people — mostly women — who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities, some charming, some very disturbing. Among them are Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), a mysterious, quick-fisted widow, and Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), a brilliant young inventor. They are the champions of this new underclass, making a home for the Touched, while fighting the forces of… well, pretty much all the forces — to make room for those whom history as we know it has no place."

The cast also includes Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Ben Chaplin, Pip Torrens, Amy Manson, and Nick Forst. Bernadette Caulfield, Ilene S. Landress, Doug Petrie, and Jane Espenson are executive producers.

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