Zack Snyder leaves Justice League after family tragedy

In heart-wrenching news, Zack Snyder has announced he is stepping down from his role as director on DC's Justice League in order to deal with the death of his 20-year-old daughter, Autumn. Joss Whedon will finish the film. 

Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter, "I've decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me." The filmmaker's wife, Deborah Snyder, who serves as a producer on Justice League, also announced her departure. 

Autumn Snyder died by suicide in March. She was a student at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and was an avid writer. The family chose to keep the news of her suicide private, only informing close relatives. 

"I never planned to make this public," Snyder said of his daughter's death. "I thought it would just be in the family, a private matter, our private sorrow that we would deal with." 

Justice League production was put on pause for two weeks following Autumn's death to allow the Snyders to grieve and begin healing. Snyder stated that he hoped to jump back into the film soon after, but the workload proved overwhelming amidst the tragedy. 

"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," said Snyder. "The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all-consuming."

Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich gave the Snyders his full support. "What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart—our hearts—go out to them," said Emmerich.

The couple recently viewed an early cut of the upcoming film, and tapped Whedon to script a few additional scenes. However, as Justice League scenes in London approached, the Snyders realized they didn't want to leave their family again, and they asked Whedon to take over as director. According to Emmerich, Whedon will "adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack [Snyder] set." 

Snyder, who has been raising seven children and step-children with wife Deborah, still hopes Justice League will be a hit, and that fans will enjoy it. However, the final product is nothing compared to his family who really needs him. 

"When it became obvious that I need to take break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. The truth is… I'm past caring about that kind of thing now," Snyder said. "I want the movie to be amazing and I'm a fan, but that all pales pretty quickly in comparison… there are seven other kids that need me… in the end, it's just a movie." 

With Whedon behind the wheel, Justice League is still slated for release on November 17.