Zack Snyder Steps Down From ‘Justice League’ To Deal With Family Tragedy, ‘Avengers’ Director Joss Whedon To Step In

After serving as director of such DC Comics films as “Man of Steel” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” director Zack Snyder has announced he’s stepping down from the upcoming “Justice League” movie in order to devote himself to his wife and children in the wake of a family tragedy.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Snyder is stepping away from the project, along with wife Deborah (who has served as his longtime producer) as they cope with the recent death of their 20-year-old daughter Autumn, who reportedly took her own life in March.

As THR reports, the death of Autumn Snyder has been a closely guarded secret, “with only a small inner circle aware of what happened,” and Snyder reveals in an emotional interview with THR that he was initially eager to get back to work on the film in the hopes that throwing himself into his work would help him cope with the devastating loss.

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“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 the through it,” said Snyder, as Deborah sat by his side. “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.”

As Snyder reveals, it was never his intention to open up about his daughter’s death. “Here’s the thing, I never planned to make this public,” he told THR. “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.”

While principal photography on “Justice League” has been completed, editing and reshoots are still required. As a result, Warner Bros. is bringing in an 11th-hour substitute who has a pretty solid grasp of the superhero genre: Joss Whedon, whose screen credits range from being creator and showrunner of cult TV classic “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to writing and directing the first “Avengers” movie.

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“What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart — our hearts — go out to them,” added Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich.

“The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set,” says Emmerich of what remains to be done on the movie, which is currently in the post-production phase. “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.”

Following the news, Snyder received support from fans and peers on social media, including fellow directors Kevin Smith (“Clerks”), Patty Jenkins, who directed the new “Wonder Woman” feature, and James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”).

Following an outpouring of support on social media, Snyder thanks fans for their goodwill during such a difficult time.

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