Zack Snyder & Joss Whedon: How Tragedy Shapes The 'Justice League' Movie And Beyond

Zack Snyder Will Not Direct Justice League
Zack Snyder Will Not Direct Justice League

The official trailer for 2017's Justice League seemed to be a welcome change of direction for long-time fans of the property. The dialogue was punchier, the palette was richer and the plot seemed to veer decidedly from the political red tape that plagued earlier entries.

This, married with the overwhelmingly positive early reactions for Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, slated for release June 2, indicated Snyder and company were on the road to crafting a DC cinematic universe more in line with what moviegoers began hoping for all the way back in 2012.

And while this still very well may be the case, the fate of DC Films has become a bit dicier following Zack Snyder's decision to step down as director of Justice League in order to properly cope with the unexpected death of his daughter. He had this to say about the situation to 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 come to the realization... 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 having a hard time, I'm having a hard time."

This is a tragic turn of events. It's also the sort of thing that puts "nerd rage" into perspective, reminding you of the culture's vulgar tendency to hyperbolize the gravity of comic book movies.

Regardless of how you feel about Snyder's turn at the helm, few would argue that he made the wrong decision. Warner Brothers have been graciously pushing him out ever since the backlash he garnered from Batman V. Superman and Joss Whedon seems to be the guy their grooming to rehabilitate their last real bankable franchise (and yes I've seen Mediocre Beasts and Where to Find Them).

Although Justice League is currently in post-production, Whedon has been brought on to write and direct some additional footage for the film as well as the stand-alone Batgirl film he's been attached to since early this year.

Does this mean a zanier, more irreverent iteration of The DC Cinematic Universe? Or is its foundation forever beholden to the grim roots planted by Snyder and David S. Goyer? Only time will tell, though every indication seems to point to the former. What the trailers for Wonder Woman, Justice League and the bringing on of Joss Whedon seem to say is that the mission statement of the DCEU is shifting from "What if these Superheroes were real? to "What if these Superheroes were real!"

That isn't to say all my fears are quelled. There's only so much you can do at this point. The overarching story has already been written and as near as I can tell it isn't very good. In fact, it's a mess and no amount of bat-quips are gonna change that. Thankfully if there's anyone that knows how to make a mess simultaneously fun and compelling it's Geoff Johns, who was brought on as head of DC films last year. I believe Johns and Whedon are very capable of doing great things with these properties if allowed even a modicum of creative freedom.

Say what you will about what some disgruntled fans have dubbed the "Snyderverse" but it retained a clear sense of style and ambition. I wasn't always on board with the direction or tone Snyder chose, but in an industry dominated by soulless blockbusters made by middle-of-the-road directors for hire, it's refreshing to watch a film made by a filmmaker. I wish him and his family the best during this undoubtedly difficult time. So should you.

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