Editing must be a tricky business. Not just in what to cut out and keep in, but also in how best to structure the narrative flow through scene changes and character introductions. Editing did not bode well for Zack Snyder’s epic and is probably the most critiqued part of the film. Again, it’s likely one of the toughest jobs and when talking of the industry as a whole, to those who do that job it may seem thankless.
Batman v Superman’s editor, David Brenner addressed as much in an interview with Pro Video Coalition.
“As always there was too much originally shot, so there were a lot of choices to make to get the film to play. Sometimes things don’t work out as well as they might have on the page. Sometimes they didn’t on the page either! So no matter what the budget or scale, as the editor, you’re just trying to get the story and characters to work.”
Having those elements function cohesively is probably the most significant challenge and in dwindling the film down to what’s necessary and what’s not, things have to naturally be cut. According to Brenner, what was cut in Batman v Superman was even more subplots that would have significantly lengthened the already long film. Be careful, his comments contain spoilers.
“In the script there were more story lines than you see in the movie today. That was probably our biggest editorial issue in trying to get the cut down to a reasonable length. For us, the trickiest section was the beginning of the film, until the point where Bruce Wayne tells Alfred the truth about what is on the “White Portugese” [sic] ship… the truth about his plan. This moment set into motion everything until the end of the film really. Until that point the movie was always tracking many solo paths, some intersecting, some not. Finally in this scene, the paths fork into one road.”
He added that some of those edits revolved around where and when to place Lex Luthor in the film’s plot line.
“In the script there are more subplots than you see in the movie right now. Also in terms of building this beginning we had to move things around. In the script, Lex was introduced much later, but we found that in watching the movie – because he’s such an important player, it was best to set him up sooner. Plus, his presence has so much energy, a twisted comic energy that boosted the film. Generally, BvS was a unique challenge in that we had not one but two protagonists, each with an alter-ego. So there was Clark Kent, Superman, Bruce Wayne and Batman. And then surrounding them are Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Wallace Keefe (the guy who loses his legs when Wayne Tower falls), Perry White, Martha Kent, Holly Hunter’s character (Senator Finch), and still more characters orbiting them.”
Luckily a lot of it will be put back for the upcoming extended cut, which is set to release on July 16. However, we may not see the whole thing. Batman v Superman in its entirety is roughly four hours long, but once the “fat” has been excised, fans will likely see only three hours of it.
“It was a lot to juggle. So the plot lines of a couple characters had to go. These people are currently in the movie but we don’t track them, and it’s okay. What’s kind of fun is that we went back and did an extended cut where we put a lot of this stuff back, and we refined it into the same rhythm as the theatrical release. So what was once a nearly four hour cut with absolutely everything was ridiculous – ended up being about a three hour cut, once all these added storylines were refined with the fat was cut out.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the extended edition of the film will improve upon its poor pacing, but if any of these subplots are involved, fans may be in for an added treat.
Images: Warner Bros.