Under normal circumstances, I’d be elated at this news but the reasons for this are very sombre. Joss Whedon — director of Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron — has replaced Zack Snyder as director of Justice League. The reason is that Snyder’s daughter Autumn committed suicide back in March.
The revelation is a surprise and shock to many, which apparently the family has kept secret. Snyder’s wife, producer Deborah Snyder, is also stepping back in order for the both of them to spend time with their family. Zack Snyder released a statement in order to stem any rumors that would come from him stepping down. Here’s what he 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.
Here’s the thing, I never planned to make this public. 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. I want the movie to be amazing and I’m a fan, but that all pales pretty quickly in comparison. I know the fans are going to be worried about the movie but there are seven other kids that need me. In the end, it’s just a movie. It’s a great movie. But it’s just a movie.
I can’t help be feel incredibly sorry for Snyder. As much as I and other reporters have criticized the director for his work on the DC Extended Universe, it is just a movie. The fact that he needed to mention his reasons for stepping down to stem any rumors feels a bit… horrible.
According to Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich, via The Hollywood Reporter, the work that Whedon will do is minimal. Snyder did ask Whedon to write some new scenes for characters for the reshoots, but Emmerich said that Whedon wouldn’t be reworking what Snyder had already done. Here’s what he said:
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.
This is such a dreaded triple edged sword for Snyder. First of all, I cannot imagine what he is going through, but should Justice League do extremely well critically, it is possible that Whedon may get all the credit for saving Snyder’s film, especially after all the rumors that the film will be remade twice by the time it premieres. If it does poorly, then he may be blamed for making a bad movie. Either way, he is still dealing with an extremely personal issue that he needed to make public for business purposes. I — and us here and Doddle — hope the best for him and his family.
Justice League is still slated to open November 17, 2017.