Zack Snyder departs 'Justice League' due to family tragedy

By Wade Sheridan  |  Updated May 23, 2017 at 7:12 AM
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May 23 (UPI) -- Director Zack Snyder and his wife, producer Deborah Snyder, are stepping down from Justice League following the death of their daughter.

Zack Snyder made the announcement Monday that he will be unable to finish work on the superhero ensemble film in order to focus on the healing of their family.

The Snyder's daughter Autumn committed suicide in March at the age of 20. The filmmaker who kept the matter private, initially wanted to continue work on Justice League as the project was put on hold so that the family could deal with the tragedy.

"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," Snyder said while speaking with The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

Warner Bros. wanted to delay the film which stars Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Ezra Miller (The Flash), Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg), but Snyder wanted Justice League to reach its planned Nov. 17 release date.

Stepping in for Snyder will be Joss Whedon who directed Disney and Marvel's Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron to lead Justice League through post-production and to direct some additional scenes.

"The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set," Warner Bros. president Toby Emmerich said of Whedon's involvement. "We're not introducing any new characters. It's the same characters in some new scenes. He's handing the 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."

Whedon was brought into the DC comics and Warner Bros. fold after he signed on to helm an upcoming Batgirl film in March.

"Here's the thing, I never planned to make this public," Snyder said. "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 a break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. They'll do what they do. The truth is ... I'm past caring about that kind of thing now."

"I want the movie to be amazing, and I'm a fan, but that all pales pretty quickly in comparison," he says. "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," he continued.

The Snyders are raising seven kids and step-kids together.

The 51-year-old had previously helmed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice alongside Deborah as a producer. The couple also produced Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins that arrives in theaters June 2.

"You have created so much that will last forever. Wonderful things. Your values are left in your movies , your friends and most of all your special beautiful family. The love you have for people, kindness and selflessness are your legacy to us. Thank you Zack. Love you always," Gal Gadot wrote on Instagram Monday alongside a photo of herself on set with the director.

"Our hearts are with the Snyder's and have been. Truly good people and friends to so many. xoxo," added Patty Jenkins on Twitter.

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