What Zack Snyder's Departure Means For the DCEU

Justice League set - Zack Snyder with Bat signal

By now we all know that Zack Snyder has stepped down as director of Justice League following the loss of his daughter, Autumn back in March. In his desire to take time to grieve with his family, he has handed the reins of the film over to Joss Whedon, director of the first two Avengers movies and the upcoming Batgirl adaptation. Needless to say, this could have implications for both Justice League and the future of the DCEU. As such, we’ve put together the fragments of news Warner Bros. has provided since the announcement yesterday.

Snyder was a major contributor to the formation of DC’s shared universe. He directed Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, worked on the story for the upcoming Wonder Woman film, and is a producer or executive producer on all DCEU films through 2020. He not only set the tone and worked on the design of the universe but as director of Justice League was going to set the tone for the films to come. While he is stepping down now and handing the reigns over to Whedon, Snyder is leaving behind a mostly finished film, giving Whedon the task of shepherding it across the finish line through minor reshoots and post-production.

Snyder’s departure comes at a major turning point for the still-burgeoning DCEU. While still slated to direct Justice League 2, it’s unclear if he will return for the feature or how hands-on a role he’ll have if he steps down. There is some speculation that Snyder’s decision to hand the film to Whedon was his way of giving a nod that the well-experienced Avengers director would be taking over for the next film. Other fans, meanwhile, have instead been championing director Patty Jenkins for Justice League 2 since early reviews of Wonder Woman have been generally positive.

Joss Whedon filming Avengers Age of Ultron

Prior to Snyder’s decision to step down, Whedon was already tasked with writing up new scenes for the re-shoots that are scheduled to begin shortly. Snyder was already set to take a break from the DCEU, opting to direct a personal project (war movie The Last Photograph) as a “palate cleanser” between Justice League and Justice League 2, which Warner Bros. had opted to delay in order to focus on releasing The Batman first.

Now, the former Avengers helmer will be directing the scenes that he wrote as well. As noted before, the re-shoots are minor in nature — mostly pickups — and are common for large blockbuster films like Justice League. Toby Emmerich, president of Warner Bros. Pictures underlined this in a recent statement to Empire Online.

"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 a 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."

From Emmerich’s statement, it is clear that Whedon is set to fulfill Snyder’s vision and guide it in its final steps — not alter the film drastically. Given Whedon’s history, he’s a strong candidate to do so. Whedon got his start in Hollywood as a ghostwriter and continued to contribute to scripts even while Buffy the Vampire Slayer was still on the air. Often, he was brought in to punch up dialogue or give another pass at an action scene. Most famously, Whedon contributed to the original X-Men film in 2000 with a script rewrite, but only two of the lines he wrote actually made it into the film. However, he has had more successful rewrites in his career.

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Key Release Dates
  • Wonder Woman (2017) release date: Jun 02, 2017
  • Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
  • The Flash Movie release date:
  • Cyborg (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
  • Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020
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