Following Zack Snyder's departure from the production of Justice League in May 2017, it has now been claimed that the director was fired from the DC Extended Universe several months prior to his official exit. At the time, Snyder said that he needed a break from his work on the movie to process the death of his daughter, Autumn Snyder, who took her own life in March 2017. "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," Snyder said. "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."
During the reshoots and post production, Joss Whedon took over directing Justice League, which was met with mixed reviews from both fans and critics when it released in November 2017. Though there were certain moments in the movie that people enjoyed, the general consensus was that it felt jumbled and messy, and lacked the singular vision of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Now, a former writer for Mashable has said that, though he couldn't be so explicit in the article he wrote at the time, Snyder was actually fired from the DCEU several months before he officially departed Justice League, and several weeks before the death of Autumn Snyder. Josh L. Dickey cited a Mashable article that he wrote in July 2017, which described Snyder's role in the DCEU as "Limited at best, dunzo at worst."
Since I'm shifting into DGAF mode, here's a hot one for ya: Zack Snyder was fired from the DCEU just over 1 year ago. Couldn't write it ~quite~ that way at the time, but was able to tapdance around it [clumsy/oblique headline not mine] https://t.co/7cht70rCaG
— Josh L. Dickey (@JLDlite) February 10, 2018
It's worth noting that this tweet follows Dickey's announcement that he is ending his career as an entertainment journalist and is in "DGAF mode," and while that might make his claim of Snyder being fired seem more "honest," it's not subject to the editorial checks that would be required to publish such a rumor. It's also worth noting that, in the film industry, the line between being fired and voluntarily choosing to leave can often be blurry (see also: Edgar Wright's departure from Ant-Man). The original Mashable report made the following claim:
Multiple sources with knowledge of Warner Bros.' plans say that as the DC Extended Universe moves forward, the Snyders will no longer have anything like the level of creative influence that got the franchise to this point.
As of December 2017, Snyder was not attached to direct any future DCEU movies, though he is still attached in a producer role to several upcoming DC projects, including this year's Aquaman. Snyder's tenure as the creative lead of the DCEU was controversial; though many DC fans genuinely love his take on Superman and Batman, others felt that elements like Superman causing collateral damage in Man of Steel and Batman killing criminals in Batman V Superman betrayed the spirit of the characters. Commercially, the franchise has yet to see an outright box office disaster (though Justice League came close), but it's safe to say that the DCEU has garnered a pretty wobbly reputation, and Warner Bros. has already attempted to correct course by making Justice League a more light-hearted affair than previous entries.
Although this tweet is sure to spark a great deal of discussion and speculation, it's important to remain aware of the fact that Snyder departed Justice League in the wake of an awful tragedy, and to be as sensitive to that as possible. Ultimately, whether he was fired or left of his own volition doesn't really matter. It's been known for a while that Snyder is no longer the creative lead on the DCEU, and knowing the reason why doesn't change much.
The DCEU is currently still struggling to find a new direction, with a swathe of projects in development (including a Joker origin movie that may star Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role), but only a few with confirmed release dates. From what we can tell, it seems like Warner Bros. is shifting gear from creating a cinematic universe to creating quality solo movies. The future of DC franchises will likely depend on how successful (or unsuccessful) these upcoming projects are, and how Warner Bros. responds to that.
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020