Justice League And Avatar: The Way Of Water Editor Remembered By Zack Snyder And James Cameron

Zack Snyder directing Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot as Batman and Wonder Woman in Justice League
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Creating any movie takes a ton of cast and crew members, let alone major theatrical blockbusters like Avatar and Justice League. A major contributor to any movie is the editor, who helps weave various shots into a complete story. Recently Oscar-winning editor David Brenner, who passed away in the midst of filming Avatar 2, was remembered by the likes of Zack Snyder and James Cameron. And it sounds like he was one hell of a collaborator. 

Late editor David Brenner passed away in February of 2022, nearly a year before the release of Avatar: The Way of Water. Prior to the American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards, filmmakers like Zack Snyder and James Cameron have been reflecting on his work. Per Variety, the latter filmmaker spoke about his complicated feelings, especially since Brenner didn’t get to see the final cut of his sci-fi sequel. In Cameron’s words:

David fought for moments of performance that he thought were important to the character or the scene. He would remind me of little nuances of the actors’ performances so I would make sure to include them in close-ups. I am saddened he didn’t live to see his scenes fully rendered. But I know he would have been proud to have created some of the most memorable scenes in a film that fills people with a sense of profound beauty and hope, making them cry, and in some cases even helping them process their own feelings of grief and loss.

What a fitting tribute. Film editors are one of the most important members of a crew, despite it not being a glamorous job like director or actor. James Cameron knows this all too well, and seemed to greatly respect David Brenner when working on the Avatar sequels. Luckily for moviegoers, we’ll get to see more of his work when the third Avatar hits theaters in in 2024.

James Cameron’s comments about David Brenner show how closely he works with his collaborators on the Avatar movies, despite having such a unique, massive vision. The first two sequels were filmed back to back, which is why the late editor’s influence will be seen in the upcoming threequel. And it seems that he had a major affect on the way filming occurred.

James Cameron working on Avatar: The Way of Water set

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Zack Snyder also took the time to remember editor David Brenner for his work and spirit. They collaborated on all of Snyder’s DC movies including Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League. The filmmaker revealed that it was Brenner’s idea to put the song “Song of the Siren” behind The Flash’s speedforce scene in the Snyder Cut, while also saying:

He was always one step ahead of everyone.

Talk about a talent. David Brenner had a long and extensive resume, including work outside of major blockbusters. And throughout this time he definitely earned the respect of major filmmakers like Zack Snyder and James Cameron. 

Another person who knew David Brenner’s work and personality all too well is his widow Amber Dixon. She spoke to his work as a film editor, and how he used his personality to capture emotion and properly tell a story. As she put it,

The film shows what it means to have a karmic understanding of one’s place in the universe, and how to live a life in alignment with one’s values and, above all else, love. He was the best editor there ever was. I don’t care what anyone else says.

Now that’s love. On top of obviously appreciating David Brenner for who he was as a person, it’s clear that Amber Dixon also really respected his work as a film editor. And in her opinion, she’s the best there it. I have to think that James Cameron and Zack Snyder might be inclined to agree.

Our thoughts are with David Brenner’s loved ones as they continue the mourning process. And his work can be seen in when Avatar 3 hits theaters on December 20th, 2024. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.