Family tragedy leads Zack Snyder to step away from Justice League, Joss Whedon taking over

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May 25, 2017, 8:32 PM EDT (Updated)

Joss Whedon will take over Justice League as the Snyder family deals with the unimaginable.

Zack Snyder announced on Monday (May 22) that he is stepping away from post-production on Justice League following the death of his daughter. According to the The Hollywood Reporter, Joss Whedon will oversee the Warner Bros. film's completion, which will include the shooting of some additional scenes, ahead of its November 2017 release.

Snyder's wife Deborah Snyder, who serves as a producer on all her husband's films, is also stepping down as their family begins the process of healing. The Snyders have seven other children and stepchildren.

Snyder's 20-year-old daughter Autumn, from a previous marriage, committed suicide in March. The aspiring writer was attending Sarah Lawrence College and the tragedy was initially kept private except for a close handful of family and friends. The Snyders at first took a two-week break from work on Justice League, with Zack intending to see the project through. He said:

"In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was the way through it. The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all consuming. And in the last two months I’ve come to the realization...I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time."

Snyder's tenure on the DC Extended Universe has been a rocky one. His two previous films, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, have been the target of intense criticism and have somewhat underperformed at the box office, leading to speculation in the past that he might depart the franchise altogether -- which is partially why he has made his reason for leaving now public:

“Here’s the thing, I never planned to make this public. I thought it would just be in the family, a private matter, our private sorrow that we would deal with. When it became obvious that I need to take break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. They’ll do what they do...I’m past caring about that kind of thing now.”

After screening a rough cut of Justice League for some fellow filmmakers, Snyder decided he wanted to shoot some additional scenes and recruited Whedon -- who is also working on Batgirl for Warner Bros. -- to write them. Now Whedon will direct those sequences as well. Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich, who said that what the Snyders are going through is "unimaginable," explained:

“The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set. We’re not introducing any new characters. It’s the same characters in some new scenes. He’s handing a baton to Joss but the course has really been set by Zack. I still believe that despite this tragedy, we’ll still end up with a great movie.”

Snyder believes the same:

“I want the movie to be amazing and I’m a fan, but that all pales pretty quickly in comparison. I know the fans are going to be worried about the movie but there are seven other kids that need me. In the end, it’s just a movie. It’s a great movie. But it’s just a movie."

We haven't always agreed with Zack Snyder on a lot of things, but for once we do without reservation. Movies are nothing when compared to what he, his wife and their other kids are dealing with. Justice League is in good hands, and the studio says it will still make its November 17 release date. In the meantime, we wish the Snyders peace, and hope they can find their way through this very dark time.