Warning: Spoilers for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition to follow!
We’re halfway through 2016 and it’s hard to imagine that we’ll see another film as polarizing as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. From the moment it was announced back in 2013 at San Diego Comic Con, to the day it was released in theaters on March 25th, it was met with much skepticism and harsh criticism.
Let’s rewind back to a month before Batman v Superman hit the big screen. News broke that a directors cut, or “Ultimate Edition” was going to be released and it had received an “R” rating. This would expand the run time from 151 minutes to 181 minutes. We’d be getting a good 30 minutes of footage that was left on the cutting room floor.
What’s the point of an Ultimate Edition or an “R”rated Batman/Superman movie? I remember having many conversations on Twitter about this very topic. Let me just say this, I absolutely loved the theatrical release. Did I have issues with the film, of course, because I found many technical flaws that I couldn’t give a pass to; but I never saw it as a bad film.
So, I turned on my TV, fired up the digital copy of this “Ultimate Edition” and sat back to see how much of an affect 30 minutes could have on this movie. In short, it fixes a lot. For starters, Lex’s plans and motivation feel much more fleshed out. In the Africa scene, where we see Lois interview a terrorist and Superman save the day, we see how Lex’s goon squad set things up to make it look like Superman came in and killed everyone. We also learn that the woman who’s grieving and speaks out about Superman killing her family, in Africa she was hired by Lex to perpetuate the lie. Remember how Clark and Bruce met for the first time at Lex’s charity gala? It wasn’t a random meeting; it was all set up by Lex. These reveals all tied in with Lex leaving breadcrumbs for investigative reporter Clark Kent (a side of him we see way more of) in the form of Polaroids, and they clearly show us how he does not agree with the way Batman handles the criminals of Gotham. Especially, when it’s revealed that the criminals who are branded by Batman are actually being killed in jail by other inmates but only after they’re ordered to by Lex’s head henchmen, Anatoli Knyazev. But more importantly, all this set up effectively executes and explains how these two characters are at odds with each other, which builds to their smack down in the third act of the film and how it’s all been cleverly manipulated by Lex Luthor. Everything feels more evenly paced and the overall story flows much better.
We also get to see how Jena Malone’s character plays into all of this after it was widely speculated and theorized about who she was playing. Was it Barbara Gordon, Carrie Kelly? Well, it turns out she’s Jenet Klyburn, a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs. I’m not gonna lie, I was really hoping she might be a version of Caitlyn Snow on this earth. I think it would have been a cool tie-in to the multiverse. But I digress, it was very cool just seeing S.T.A.R. Labs in a DCEU movie. Another new scene involved Lex communicating with an unknown figure from another world. It’s since been confirmed that this figure is Steppenwolf, uncle of Darkseid, and he will be the main villain in the upcoming Justice League movie.
One of the coolest of the new scenes was one between Batman and Lex at the end of the film. We’re given a bit more dialogue between the two which reveals that Lex knew the Dark Knight’s identity. It’s also revealed that Batman has made arrangements for Lex to be put in Arkham Asylum, which is not only awesome but huge news, considering there are rumors swirling around that Jesse Eisenberg will have a cameo in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. There’s also some adding on of the Batman/Superman fight, as well as the warehouse scene where Batman single handily disposes of Lex’s henchman who are holding Martha Kent hostage. That scene was already amazing and in my opinion was the best Batman fight sequence ever translated to screen, but these added scenes only strengthen an already outstanding moment.
My hope, before watching this version, was that they would fix a lot of the editing and pacing issues, and in my opinion, I firmly believe they did. Releasing this version was smart and I can’t imagine I’ll ever be watching the theatrical cut again. In fact, if anyone hasn’t seen this movie yet, I would strongly urge them to watch this “Ultimate Edition” as it’s the definitive version of this story.
I would hope that those who hated the theatrical cut give this version a chance. I know people hate Zack Snyder’s take on Superman and many were put off by this interpretation of Doomsday, but in the end, this polarizing film flows cohesively, tells a complete story and sets up a hopefully long running slate of DCEU films to come.
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