Husband and wife director/producer team Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder have stepped down from the Justice League film in the wake of a recent family tragedy. The couple lost their daughter Autumn to suicide in March and had initially hoped to continue on with Justice League after temporarily pausing the project to grieve and take care of their family. Despite their intentions to continue on with the film, Zack Snyder announced on Monday, May 22 that they would be unable to continue at this time.

Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter, that he never intended to make the suicide public, but he has come to a point where he must do what is best for his family.

He went on to say that at first, he attempted to work through the pain, focusing on the intensity of the work at hand, but it came to be too much.

The show must go on

Zack Snyder says that he feels he needs to take this time to be with his family and surviving children who are “having a hard time with it.” In his place, joss whedon has been tapped to finish out the project. Whedon’s best known for his long-running supernatural series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s corresponding spin-off Angel, as well as sci-fi space series Firefly, among other things.

Justice League will not be Whedon’s first venture into the world of superheroes, as the director also oversaw the first Avengers film and Avengers: Age of Ultron for Marvel and Disney. For Justice League, Whedon will be stepping in to see the film through the post-production phase and possibly adding a few more scenes.

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Toby Emmerich, president of Warner Bros., said that the directing on Joss's part will be minimal and he will mostly be wrapping things up based on the tone set by Zack. Emmerich assures fans that this "passing of the baton" will still yield a great movie. So, the studio is backing Snyder's decision and offered his family condolences.

Shine on

Snyder’s late daughter, Autumn, was from his first marriage to Denise Snyder. She was a student at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and was said to have harbored a great love of writing. She had written a science fiction novel prior to her death, which the family says they would like to see published one day. Deborah is deeply affected by the fact that she was the first person to receive the novel directly from Autumn, which features a lonely, outsider as the main character. This is a detail that is most haunting and affecting the family in retrospect.

Zack says that Autumn had a favorite quote which she would often incorporate in her writing. The quote is from author Chuck Palahniuk: “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”