After steering the DC Extended Universe ship since Man of Steel, Zack Snyder is taking a break from superheroes and will pursue production on a new war thriller The Last Photograph in between Justice League and its untitled sequel Justice League 2. Replacing the latter in DC’s schedule will be Ben Affleck’s yet-untitled Batman movie.

Snyder’s Man of Steel in 2013 was the first in the new DC cinematic universe, and while it earned more than $668 million globally it received only lukewarm reviews. This year’s Batman v Superman fared somewhat worse, grossing more than $800 million but was pummeled by critics and fans for its relentless nightmare tone.

Batman v Superman
DARKNESS. NO PARENTS.

After Batman v Superman, Snyder’s position as lead DCU architect was diminished. Replacing him were Ben Affleck, producer Jon Berg, and Geoff Johns, a veteran comics writer who became a producer on Arrow and The Flash. Unlike Snyder, who has expressed a taste for bleak stories, Johns believes there is a “glimmer” of optimism present even in dark heroes like Batman.

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While Snyder focused largely on Superman in his films, Johns told Inverse his favorite DC hero, by far, is the Flash, partly because he’s an optimist. If one can assume creative direction of the DCU will now fall under Johns, Affleck, Berg, and their collection of vibrant directorial voices, including Patty Jenkins and James Wan, the coming years may yield a fresher, more emotionally engaging DCU.

Justice League, the last of Snyder’s DC movies for awhile, will be released November 17, 2017.

Photos via Warner Bros., Getty Images / Mike Coppola