Filmmaker Zack Snyder‘s daughter committed suicide in March, prompting him to take time off from work, and pass Justice League onto Joss Whedon.


Snyder previously directed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and will hand off the newest DC project to the Buffy creator. Snyder’s daughter Autumn died by suicide at age 20. The details surrounding her death have been kept private by the family.

Initially, the film was put on just a two week break, with Snyder eager to return to the film, which stars Ben AffleckGal GadotJason Momoa, and Ezra Miller. “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,” said Snyder in an interview. “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.”

The studio is completely behind the decision as well. “What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart – our hearts – go out to them,” said Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich. He also assured fans that the directing change won’t mean a completely different movie. “The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set,” says Emmerich. “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.”

Autumn was Synder’s daughter from his first marriage to Denise Snyder. She was a student at Sarah Lawrence College, and loved “to write, to write, to write,” says her step-mother and Snyder’s now wife Deborah Snyder. The parents are raising seven children and step-children. “I want the movie to be amazing, and I’m a fan, but that all pales pretty quickly in comparison,” Zack says. “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.”

Autumn had completed a sci-fi novel in the first person about a character who has trouble fitting in. The family would like it to one day be published and have proceeds go to charity. “In the end, she didn’t make it, but her character does, and I think there would be something cathartic for people,” Zack says.

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