Back in March, Warner Bros. released their first real foray into the cinematic universe with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This was DC Comics move into a cinematic space that has been dominated for eight years by Marvel Pictures that in those eight years managed to conclude two trilogies, establish two Avenger movies and is already planning their Phase 4 slate of movies. This movie smashed its way into theaters and made a terrible thud sound.
Since its release, we have heard about a longer cut of the film that would make the running time about 3 hours, while the theatrical release was trimmed down to two and a half hours. In that span of 30 minutes, do you think it could have made a big difference? After the reaction I had to the original cut, and upon seeing the “Ultimate Edition” there is a huge difference between the films. If you hated the way director Zack Snyder treated Batman in this film, or Wonder Woman for that matter, there is nothing I am going to say that will change that. The cut was a massive improvement in the realm of the narrative.
If you are reading this, chances are that you viewed the original film, so I will not bore you with the overall story. I will focus on the additions and the impact it made in the overall story arc of the film. In the very beginning of the movie, that first ten minutes roughly stays the same. Batman’s dream intro and the destruction of Metropolis. When the story moves to present day and Lois is in Africa, an entire thread in the scene was cut.
We get the proper introduction of Jimmy Olson and that he, in facts, meets Lois in Africa. Not only that, we find that she was requested to interview the warlord – she did not ask for the assignment. There it is established that something weird is going on. When Olson is killed, we find that the CIA has been monitoring the situation and a team was on the ground to extract Lois before an apparent drone strike was going to wipe out the compound. The CIA team wanted to get Lois out before the strike but they were overruled.
After Luther’s henchmen laid waste to everyone in the compound, they gather the bodies and burn them up. That flamethrower scene in the end, yeah it was used in the beginning so it wasn’t random. Luther’s men take off because they know “he” is coming. As the drone makes its way to the compound, it fires the missile. However, the missile is destroyed before it reaches its target as is the drone itself. Superman stops it. Shortly after Superman dispatches with the warlord, people from the village and the CIA team rush into the compound and find the burned bodies and carnage. Giving the illusion that Superman did this. Thus, setting up for the trial that we saw afterwards.
The film itself is littered with moments like this. Many of the narrative questions you had after the original viewing are explained in this cut. It made me cringe to think that all that stuff would be okay to cut but we still needed that Pa Kent scene and the Superman hike.
Other issues that are explained is the branding of Batman, why Superman didn’t see the bomb in the wheelchair and how he was an unwitting participant rather than a complicit co-conspirator. Not only that but we have more development of Clark going to Gotham and actually realizing that Batman is a menace. He tries to use his position as a reporter to stop him but it becomes more clear that the use of Superman is the only thing he would understand. The lady that testified to Congress has a bigger thread in the movie and is a linchpin for the narrative.
What the movie proves is that Lex Luthor had such an elaborate plan to pit Batman against Superman from the beginning. Getting the people of Metropolis and Gotham to turn against their hero so that when pitted, one will be hailed as a hero while the other is scorned as a villain. Unfortunately, there is no extended moment for the whole “Martha” sequence but after seeing the extra stuff, you kind of forgive that. Oh, and Jena Malone is not batgirl like the internet believed. She was simply a STAR labs scientist that helped Lois along the way. No explanation as to how she knows her but she is easy on the eyes, so you can forgive it.
With the more completed narrative, the three hour run time actually feels shorter. With all the additional content, there is more space between the dream sequences that it doesn’t seem to bother you as badly as upon the first viewing. I found the film to be a better version of what was released and a more complete story. Development of both Batman and Superman was much improved and many of the things that felt rushed and oddly cut were more complete and coherent. To be honest, if this was the version released in theaters, the backlash would not have been so profound.
If you liked the original cut – buy this version.
If you disliked it or disappointed in the original cut – rent it.
If you simply hated it – don’t bother, nothing anyone could say will change your mind.