Zack Snyder is very much one of the leading creative forces in the DC Extended Universe having directed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Snyder has been working on his third outing in this franchise, Justice League, for a long time, but with half a year to go until the movie's release, the director is stepping away following the suicide of his daughter, Autumn Snyder.
Autumn Snyder committed suicide on March 20 at age 20, and her death was kept private in the weeks following. Following a two-week break on Justice League, Zack Snyder was originally "eager" to return to working on the movie, but now he and his wife Deborah Snyder have revealed to THR that they're both stepping away from their respective DCEU duties to focus on their family. Joss Whedon will fill in for Zack Snyder to oversee the rest of Justice League's post-production and extra filming. Whedon previously directed The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron for Marvel, and he's also helming a Batgirl movie for the DCEU.
Zack Snyder has the full support of Warner Bros for this departure, and they've extended his first look deal so he'll still have enough time to work on his other projects coming down the pipeline when he returns. The studio also offered to push back Justice League's release date, but both Zack and Deborah Snyder opted not to do that. As for Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder had already brought him aboard to write some additional Justice League scenes after screening an early cut of the movie to friends, family and other filmmakers, but once Snyder realized he needed to remain at home with his family, Whedon was given full control. Warner Bros president Toby Emmerich added about Whedon's involvement:
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 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.
Set after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League will see the eponymous team battling Steppenwolf and his Parademon army, who have come to Earth in search of the three Mother Boxes. The movie's main cast includes Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Flash, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta.
Justice League will still be released in theaters on November 17. We here at CinemaBlend send our condolences to the Snyder family.