It's been six months (four months since it was announced) since Zack Snyder, in the wake of a family tragedy, decided to step away from finishing Justice League. Since then, Joss Whedon has taken over to do rewrites and reshoots and finalize the biggest DC Extended Universe film so far, and that has become its own rather interesting conversation. Over the past few months, as Whedon's role on League and the greater DCEU has expanded, one question has lingered: Where is Zack Snyder going from here?
For the moment, it would seem, not back to the DCEU.
Earlier this week, Snyder unveiled Snow Steam Iron, a short film he shot entirely on an iPhone (with a few cool accessories like dollies and drones) back in April. The film was partially preparation for a beginner filmmaking course he plans to teach at ArtCenter College of Design, his alma mater. He wanted to prove to his eventual students that anyone with a phone can make a movie these days, but he'd never actually done that himself. So he put his money where his mouth is. It was also a film he made surrounded by family and friends, which turned out to be a part of the grieving process.
“It was a cathartic experience for all of us in a weird way because when we all get together it’s easier for us to make a movie than talk,” Snyder told Wired. “There was a heavy air around, as you can imagine, but this film gave us this way to be with each other that was nice.”
Snyder reportedly plans to start teaching when he's finishing up his next film, which won't be a DCEU project. Instead it will be the drama The Last Photograph, a project he's been developing since he finished 300 a decade ago. He's also still developing an adaptation of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, though it's unclear at this point when that film might be produced.
So what about Justice League?
Snyder said he tried to "bury myself" in that film after the death of his daughter in the spring, but eventually that took its toll and he had to step down. Now he says it would be "unfair in a lot of ways" for him to suddenly step back in after all the work that Whedon's done (which is, at this point, substantial enough that he's earned a writing credit on the film). He will retain an executive producer credit on upcoming DCEU films (including Aquaman), and it's a safe bet that we'll see him around as Justice League kicks off its press tour this fall. For the moment, though, he's happy to let other people steer that ship.
"I’m at a place where I feel excited about it and I’m happy for my guys and I love these people that are working on it, and they’re my family and I think they’re doing an amazing job,” he said. “But I’ve kind of just let them do their thing.”
Snyder has had a very rough year, which is probably putting it mildly. He went from working on the biggest film of his career to losing a child to having to let the film go. You can speculate on the behind-the-scenes drama all you want (and this is the internet, so that will happen), but this is honestly a heartening story of someone finding a new creative path in the wake of tragedy. It'll be interesting to see where Snyder goes from here.
Justice League is in theaters November 17.