Director Zack Snyder has stepped down from working on Justice League to support his family following the suicide of his daughter.
Snyder, who has directed many film adaptations of comic books including 300, Watchmen, Man Of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, has spoken about his family tragedy for the first time.
He explained that Avengers director Joss Whedon would pick up the baton to finish the film. The director’s daughter Autumn Snyder died in March at the age of 20.
He told the Hollywood Reporter: “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 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.”
Initially the family did not share their devastating news with many people, but when it became clear that Justice League would need to add some extra scenes that involved filming in the UK, Snyder decided he could not spend time away from home and enlisted Whedon’s help.
He said: “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 needed to take a break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. They’ll do what they do. The truth is I’m past caring about that kind of thing now.”
Autumn was Snyder’s daughter from his first marriage to Denise Weber, with whom he had three other children. He is also father to two children from a relationship with Kirsten Elin and has adopted two children with his second wife, Deborah Snyder, who has stepped down from her producer role on Justice League for the same reason.
Warner Brothers, the studio making the DC Comics adaptation, support the Snyders’ decision.
Pictures president, Toby Emmerich, said: “What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart – our hearts – go out to them. 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.”
Justice League, which stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller, is still set for its original release date of 17 November.