It seems that only editor David Brenner was capable of cutting “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” down to size for the two-and-a-half-hour theatrical version of the upcoming superhero bonanza, which meant trimming all of the various subplots and superhero cameos by the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg.
“It was tricky keeping the focus on the two protagonists,” he said Wednesday night after a Dolby Atmos & Vision screening at the Vine Theater in Hollywood. “They weren’t tracking in the first half and Lex Luthor [Jesse Eisenberg] came in too late.
The editor added, however, that the movie solidifies when Batman tells Alfred (Jeremy Irons) that Luthor wants the Kryptonite to kill Superman. “You can’t over-cut characterization, either. You want to build into the action in the end (the hero fight and the final confrontation with Doomsday), but you don’t want to overstay your welcome.”
Yet even though Brenner literally cut footage from every dramatic moment, there’s a bizarre and confusing Batman nightmare that does far more than just advance the story, where he’s fighting an army of demons that culminates with Superman’s betrayal. “It pays off in universe-building [and in setting up next year’s ‘Justice League’],” the editor promised.
But don’t worry: Next summer’s three-hour plus “Extended Cut” on Blu-ray/DVD will offer more footage of the minor characters (as well as a mysterious one played by Jena Malone that was cut out entirely). VFX supervisor John “DJ” DesJardin called it “a long-running political thriller that just happens to have superheroes in it.”
One of DesJardin’s biggest challenges was perfecting the Doomsday fight. The initial plan was to do it as one shot, but the superheroes were too small in comparison to the 20-foot beast and it was too long a shot to make any editorial changes, so the VFX supervisor went for a “slash and burn” approach modeled on “The Empire Strikes Back.”
“We made it with normal cuts…with Wonder Woman [Gal Godot] leading the charge,” DesJardin explained. “We changed stunt poses late in the game but had the world figured out. It became Wonder Woman-centric. You want to see her combat in a slow, intimate way. She’s enjoying cutting lose on this thing. She’s had down time for 100 years.”
But there was a panic among the sound team when they glimpsed Doomsday’s burst of electricity. Director Zack Snyder wanted you to hear it but not be overwhelmed by it.
“The sound of the DC world has layering and complexity, creating more space between sound and music,” offered Chris Jenkins, the sound re-recording mixer, who earned the Oscar for “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
“Atmos helps our brains articulate a reality,” added Scott Hecker, the supervising sound editor, who also earned the Oscar for “Fury Road.”
According to editor Brenner, Vision dramatically increases “blacks and bright spots,” while Atmos “makes big action scenes live with strong music and sounds without it feeling muddy.”
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opens on Friday, March 25.