EditFest: 'Ant-Man,' 'Avengers 2' Editors on Working in the Marvel Universe

EditFest LA - H
Carolyn Giardina

The editors of Ant-Man, Avengers; Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and Daredevil discussed working on productions in the Marvel universe, during American Cinema Editors’ annual EditFest L.A. event, Saturday at The Walt Disney Studios.

“In the universe, there are a couple [story] rules to keep consistency and the stakes real, but within the rules, there’s so much room to vary the tones of each picture,” said Dan Lebental, whose Marvel credits include Ant-Man and Iron Man. “Captain America is more serious, and Guardians was out and out fun. They fit well in the same universe because they both honor the stakes. [Marvel head] Kevin Feige watches very carefully that it doesn’t stray.”

“Marvel is also really good at hiring directors that have their own voice and vision,” added Lisa Lassek, whose credits include The Avengers and its sequel, Age of Ultron. “They each bring something distinct to each movie.”

In addition to the action, of course, is character development. Editor Jonathan Chibnall, editor of Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil and upcoming Jessica Jones, showed a quiet, dialogue sequence from Daredevil that sets up the story. “Sometimes, it feel like you’re working on a drama, with emotional characters,” he said. “You spend a lot of time watching and listening and looking for little shifts in the performance.”

Additional clips followed, including from Ant-ManColby Parker Jr., who co-edited the film with Lebental, commented on its combination of comedy and action. “I love when these worlds cross over,” he said. “But with comedy, you have to be very judicious and pick your spots.”

As a growing number of CG characters, as well as digital doubles of actors in costume, are used in Marvel films, Lebental emphasized, “you have to get the audience to feel that there is a real character there; that's a primary goal of these movies. … We did a lot of motion capture if it's a human character, because everyone knows what running looks like.”

Fred Raskin, editor on Guardians (who’s currently editing Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming The Hateful Eight), added that CG characters offer a great deal of options—possibly too many—saying, “If you want the character to do something they are not, all you have to do [is ask]. It might give us a little too much freedom. You can keep going and going.”

Before the panel (moderated by Avid's Michael Krulik) concluded, speakers touched on what pressure they might feel on a Marvel film. "Nobody wants theirs to be the first movie that doesn’t succeed," Lebental admitted. "[Editor] Wyatt Smith has Doctor Strange, and he will take it across the goal line. We’re rooting for him."

"No pressure," he joked, getting a big laugh from the audience, as Smith was in attendance, having spoken on the prior panel.