Zack Snyder, who has acted as DC Comics’ directorial visionary on a number of its most ambitious film projects, is stepping down from Justice League due to a family tragedy. The news, announced in an interview published today by The Hollywood Reporter, means Snyder will be handing the reins over to Avengers director and writer Joss Whedon, who will ferry the project through its remaining post-production stage before its November 17th release later this year.
Snyder, whose daughter committed suicide in March at the age of 20, admits that he originally misjudged how the loss would affect his work. “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,” Snyder told 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.”
Snyder has been at the helm of a number of comic book adaptations and big-budget action blockbusters, from 300 and Watchmen to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His particular style, characterized by dark tones and highly stylized visuals, has been a marked contrast to the more family-friendly, comedic touch of Disney and Marvel. Snyder was originally slated to help shoot and edit a few additional scenes to add to Justice League following the death of his daughter, but now Whedon will be handling those scenes in accordance with Snyder’s style.
“The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set,” said Warner Bros. president Tony Emmerich. “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.”