Zack Snyder leaves JUSTICE LEAGUE due to family tragedy, Joss Whedon to finish the film

Zack Snyder leaves JUSTICE LEAGUE due to family tragedy, Joss Whedon to finish the film

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It’s hard to imagine a director walking away from a giant movie like JUSTICE LEAGUE, especially when it’s already in production, but that’s exactly what Zack Snyder is doing. After helming MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, Snyder was working on JUSTICE LEAGUE when his daughter Autumn Snyder (who was 20) committed suicide in March of 2017. The Hollywood Reporter has the story, including quotes from Snyder on the matter. Both Zack and his wife Deborah Snyder (who is a producer on the film) are taking a break from the movie, which is in post-production, in the hopes of helping their family heal. There are still some scenes left to be shot, and the film will need extensive work in post, which will fall on the shoulders of Joss Whedon, who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and directed Marvel’s THE AVENGERS and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. At this time, the movie is still expected to open on its planned November 17 release.

Some may be wondering why this is just now being announced, considering Autumn’s death happened in March. That news was kept quiet, and initially the Snyder’s took a two-week break from filming to deal with the tragedy. Only close friends and family knew what happened. Zack originally wanted to return to the film, stating “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. 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. Pictures president Toby Emmerich also added comments of sympathy, noting “What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart — our hearts — go out to them.” It was said the studio considered pushing the movie back to open later, but it was the Snyders who said not to do that. The film is said to be nearly done, and there’s already been a rough cut screening, but Zack Snyder wanted to shoot additional scenes and brought on Joss Whedon to script them. They were prepping to film those scene in England, when Snyder made the decision to not continue working on the film. Emmerich stated “The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set. 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.”

While this is indeed a major move to make on a film of this magnitude, it’s quite understandable and tragic. From the sound of things, the film is pretty much done and the extra scenes likely won’t affect the end result to drastically. Whedon has obviously proven himself capable of handling giant superhero team movies like this anyway, so in many ways he is the best possible person to take over in Snyder’s absence. There’s also talk of Whedon doing a Batgirl movie for Warner Bros, so this may be an effective way for him to build up a comfort level with the studio leading into his next project. More as it develops, but our thoughts and prayers go out to the Snyder family during this difficult time.

JUSTICE LEAGUE stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon, Amber Heard as Mera, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf, and Willem Dafoe as Vulko.

Justice League hits theaters November 17, 2017.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community’s leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.