Justice League director Zack Snyder and his wife Deborah, a producer on the film, will step down from the film following the death of their daughter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Snyders will leave the project in the hands of writer-director Joss Whedon.
“I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me,” Snyder 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 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 daughter Autumn died by suicide in March, and her death was kept private by the family. The Snyders took a two-week break from production in order to deal with the tragedy, with plans to resume thereafter. However, the Snyders ultimately decided to step down from the project so that Justice League can maintain its November 17 release date.
“What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart — our hearts — go out to them,” Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich said in a statement. The studio is fully behind the Snyders’ decision to step away.
Justice League is currently in post-production. After seeing a rough cut of the film, Snyder hoped to add a few more scenes and brought Whedon in to write them. When it came time to shoot them, however, Snyder decided to leave the scenes in Whedon’s hands. “The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set,” Emmerich explained. “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.”
Autumn was Snyder’s daughter from his first marriage; together, he and his wife Deborah are raising seven children and step-children. Autumn was a student at Sarah Lawrence College, where she loved “to write, to write, to write,” Deborah Snyder said. Autumn completed a sci-fi/fantasy novel before her death, which the family hopes to publish with proceeds going to charity.
“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 break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. They’ll do what they do. The truth it… I’m past caring about that kind of thing now.”
Set to debut in theaters November 17, Justice League stars Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Willem Dafoe as Vulko, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta and J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.