Zack Snyder has been the creative force behind the DC Cinematic Universe since its inception in 2013. Along with screenwriter David S. Goyer, Snyder has helmed the critically divisive, commercially successful superhero films Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
He was in the midst of finishing up Justice League, which is scheduled for release later this year, but a family tragedy, namely, the suicide of his daughter Autumn, according to The Hollywood Reporter, has caused Snyder to step down and leave directorial duties to Joss Whedon. Learn more about Autumn Synder, and her family here.
1. Autumn Committed Suicide On March 20th
Though details surrounding Autumn’s death have been kept under wraps, The Hollywood Reporter reveals that she passed on March 20th of this year. Snyder took a two-week break from shooting Justice League to grieve, along with his wife and his wife Deborah, who’s produced all of his films to date, including 300 (2007), Watchmen (2009), and Sucker Punch (2011).
He returned to the set determined to finish the film, as he told 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 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 all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”
2. She Created In The ‘Write-A-Thon’ Charity
Autumn was an active teenager, often pursuing involvement in charities– the most notable being the Write-A-Thon To End Homelessness For Mothers and Their Children charity. She created the charity in 2014, after her father had released the commercial blockbuster Man of Steel (2013), as she wanted to provide shelter for children that were less fortunate than her. On her Crowd Rise page, Autumn penned a mission statement:
The Elizabeth House, also known as Family Hope, is a nonprofit that shelters homeless pregnant women and their children. California has 2,200,000 children living in poverty and almost 300,000 of those children experience homelessness each year. Every word I write during this two week write-a-thon will be dedicated to helping children secure a safe home to grow up in.
The Elizabeth House helps to take care of children and mothers who are in need by providing physical, emotional, and financial support in a nurturing environment. Every child deserves more than living on the streets, which is why I am doing a two-week fiction write-a- thon to raise money for this important cause.
Her father was clearly proud of her, as can be noted by the tweet above.
3. She Was Adopted As One of Snyder’s Eight Children
Autumn was actually one of the eight children that Snyder has raised in the midst of his filmmaking career. According to a 2013 cover story by Bloomberg, he had two children with a woman he didn’t marry, and four children with his ex-wife Denise Snyder. Upon marrying Deborah, whom he had met during the production of his 2004 debut Dawn of the Dead, they adopted two more children.
These large family was in part responsible for Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010), Snyder’s animated film that has the distinction of being his only kids friendly release. In an interview with Chicago Parent, he explained how his son Eli’s love for The Owls of Ga’Hoole book series inspired him: “Being a dad is a huge part of [directing a kids’ movie]. I showed them bits of the movie to see ‘is this too scary? Is this cool?’” The names of all eight children are tattooed up and down Snyder’s arms.
4. She Had A Cameo In ‘Man of Steel’
Autumn had no intentions of becoming an actor, but that didn’t stop Snyder from dropping her into a brief cameo in his Superman reboot Man of Steel. That being said, it isn’t the type of cameo that you’d expect or even be able to spot without careful attention to detail.
According to Reck News, Snyder brought Autumn onto the set the day that they shot the fight between Superman (Henry Cavill) and the minions of General Zod (Michael Shannon) in Smallville. He placed Autumn on his shoulders during a recording session, and if you listen closely, you can hear her say “uh-oh” just before the drums in Hans Zimmer’s musical score kick in. Synder hasn’t elaborated on whether this was accidental or simply a dad incorporating his family into the film. Give it a listen above.
5. Snyder Is Still Reeling From the Loss
DC and Warner Bros. are in full support of Snyder’s decision. “What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart — our hearts — go out to them, says Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich. Initially, there were plans to push back the release date of Justice League, but Snyder chose against it, and wanted to maintain the release date that had been promoted since early last year. He subsequently brought Joss Whedon on to write additional scenes and step in as director.
Emmerich told The Hollywood Reporter: “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.”