I feel like I’m having a brain aneurysm from trying to figure out why they cut some of the stuff they did out of this movie.
Just to give you some perspective, I don’t think Batman v Superman is as bad of movie of a movie as people say it is. Even with its many problems, there’s still a lot to like and admire about it. I’m someone that’ll actually defend the “Martha” scene. For the whole film leading up to that point, Batman views Superman as an alien who thinks he’s above everyone. Hearing that name makes Batman flash back to when his dad said it right before he died, which humanizes Superman in Batman’s eyes. That’s why the line, “You’re not a god. You were never even a man,” works so well.
Not that Zack Snyder doesn’t deserve some of the blame obviously, but everyone seemed to have blamed him for almost everything that went wrong with this movie. With Man of Steel and now Batman v Superman, I think more of the problems come from the writing than the directing.
Batman v Superman’s structure and pacing is all over the place. Certain plot lines and motivations don’t make a lot of sense. The film, however, cleans up some in its second half as the narrative becomes more focused, since some of the dead weight has been taken off. That being said, Wonder Woman and Doomsday still just don’t need to be in the movie. Wonder Woman just feels like she’s there to set up Justice League, and the only villain this movie needs is Lex Luthor.
The acting in the movie is at least good, but it’s let down by bad writing and some poor directing. Superman has a total of 50 lines and speaks 400 words in the theatrical cut. That’s ridiculous and even then isn’t used to great effect. They don’t really address Batman killing, even though it doesn’t seem like something he’s always done in the world of the movie. He’s at least changing by the end of the movie as he spares Lex by not branding him.Lois Lane isn’t given anything too interesting. Scoot McNairy is completely wasted. He would’ve been much better if they just made him Metallo or at least had given him a good part. Lex Luthor, despite Jesse Eisenberg being great, doesn’t really have much of a motivation. He hates Superman, because Lex Luthor just hates Superman. They don’t really dive into it much further than that. I know I’m in the minority in thinking Eisenberg did a great job, but I’ll defend his performance to my grave. He’s great at pulling off this very different version of Lex, but the character, at his core, is still the same Lex Luthor we’ve come to expect with every iteration of the character.
While I didn’t expect the Ultimate Cut to make Batman v Superman a good movie, I was just hoping it would fix some of the movie’s problems. Thankfully, it does. There is extra footage in there that doesn’t feel entirely necessarily and can feel kinda out of place, but most of that footage doesn’t actually really hurt the movie like you may think. Sorta like how other “special editions” can feel where the extra footage is cool to see, but it doesn’t add much. Then there are scenes added in that makes some of the movie feel entirely different from the theatrical version. It’s honestly insane that they just didn’t release this version instead. How does this happen? Watching the Ultimate Edition felt as if the editors were editing the theatrical cut and accidentally cut some crucial scenes out. Then they just didn’t notice till they had already shipped it out to theaters.
This version doesn’t warrant the R rating. There’s some extra nudity and added blood and violence. None of it really adds to the movie though. The movie is fine being PG-13. On top of that, they just needed to edit the Ultimate Edition, so it still comes across as coherent while being shorter. Zack Snyder did say Warner Bros. wouldn’t let them release a 3 hour version in theaters.
(Spoilers for the Ultimate Edition below this points)
Given the reaction, I was surprised to learn that Jimmy Olsen is addressed by name now. I didn’t expect the death scene to be cut out, but I expected them to try to pass it on as that not being him. Killing Jimmy Olsen is still a bad decision, but it’s respectable that they didn’t back down from their choice. The added in scene definitely makes his role better too.
From the theatrical cut, it was very obvious that the team behind the movie were just more interested in doing a Batman movie. That’s why it was so surprising here to see that Clark Kent/ Superman is actually given some more development. Batman’s motivation for going after Superman was always clear, but Superman’s wasn’t really. Clark has more of an incentive to go after Batman from the added in scenes that actually shows him being a reporter. Something the theatrical also severely lacked. Clark interviewing the wife of the criminal Batman branded, who we actually see get killed in this version, is also really beneficial to the movie.
Superman doesn’t come off as careless anymore during courthouse explosion, because of the wheelchair being laced with lead. After the explosion, he’s shown helping people instead of just flying away. This, along with the shots of empty Metropolis added in before the funerals, made me care more about his character and death.
One of the things I was most excited for in the Ultimate Edition was the addition of Jena Malone, since her character was cut out of the movie for some reason. When I first heard that she had been cut and the Ultimate Cut was going to be R, I initially thought The Joker was going to show up and paralyze Barbara. Then it turned out she was Jenet Klyburn, and there was no good reason to cut her scenes. Regardless, she was great and her scenes with Lois made me appreciate Lois’ storyline more. I hope we see her in the DCEU again.
Kahina Ziri’s storyline is also a lot different here. The theatrical cut always felt like there was something missing with her character. Turns out there was as she was actually being threatened by Lex. This plot point was interesting but also kinda counter productive. The film, to a certain point, tries to serve as an apology for Superman’s carelessness in Man of Steel. Having the reveal of Kahina Ziri being blackmailed just robbed the film of some of that. There also should have been a scene of Clark talking with her. The movie doing that, along with adding in a scene of Superman talking at the senate hearing, really would’ve allowed the movie to dive into the questions it raised but failed to answer.
Another problem of Batman v Superman was how forced the Justice League set up was. That’s why it’s surprising to see, in the theatrical cut, that they cut a dialogue exchange between Batman and Lex where we find out Lex is being transported to Arkham Asylum. That exchange helped with the pacing of that scene. Also Arkham is going to be used obviously, but leaving that in, along with the Steppenwolf scene, helped with world building and setting up for future movies. Something the movie wanted to do well so badly but failed at for the most part.
Overall, the Ultimate Edition still doesn’t make Batman v Superman the great movie it had all the potential to be. A lot of the problems that plagued the theatrical cut are still there, but it’s a much more cohesive and enjoyable film. Regardless if you liked the theatrical cut or not, I’d advise checking out the Ultimate Edition.