Ultimately An Upgrade: A Look at the ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Ultimate Cut
I’ve made it abundantly clear regarding my mixed emotions about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. There were things that I absolutely loved about it and there were moments that made me want to run out of the theater screaming. (Jolly Rancher anyone?) The most glaring problem (besides Jesse Eisenberg’s horrible Lex Luthor) was how convoluted and poorly edited it was. Scenes were discordant, plot holes abounded, motivations for specific actions were lacking, and certain characters were completely cut. BvS was the first film I’d walked away from that I thought about for days after that wasn’t a 10/10. I knew I had to watch the film again if for no other reason than my own ambivalence.
And then lo and behold, the good people at Warner Bros. decided on releasing an ultimate cut in digital, Blu-ray, and DVD format. They even screened it in theaters for a short while. My all-time favorite director’s cut of a film is Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, so my hope was that Snyder would come through again. While the Ultimate Cut of BvS isn’t on the same level as the Watchmen Director’s Cut, it VASTLY improves on the theatrical release.
Audiences are used to intricate and complex plans by villains, especially when it comes to superhero movies. For example Helmut Zemo’s (Daniel Bruhl) scheme from Captain America: Civil War displays a distinct amount of sophistication, and ultimately pits Iron Man and Captain America against each other. Lex Luthor succeeds in doing the same thing with the Man of Steel and The Dark Knight, however there’s a glaring difference between the two. Helmut Zemo’s plan made sense. The setup for Bats and Supes was beyond convoluted because scenes were cut from the film.
One scene and a character addition clarify this subplot immensely. The opening scene in Africa expands Lex’s frame job of Superman. The scene shows KGBeast killing the Africans with experimental bullets. Furthermore, he torches the bodies making it look like Superman’s heat vision was the cause. It also bolsters why Lois investigates the issue.
Another addition that clears up Luthor’s set up, involves a character known as Kahnini Ziri (Wunmi Mosaku). Heartbroken at the loss of her family, she testifies to the Senate that Superman was to blame. However, turns out Ziri was manipulated by Luthor and lied. Ziri approaches Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter). However, before she can testify before the committee regarding Superman’s innocence, KGBeast kills her.
Speaking of Superman’s testimony before the Senate subcommittee (or should I say lack of testimony), two instances really bothered me about that scene. One was why did Superman just fly away after the bomb exploded? Secondly how did he not see the bomb in Wallace Keefe’s (Scoot McNairy) wheelchair? Thankfully, the Ultimate Edition resolves both of these things. First off there’s additional footage showing Superman rescuing people. This actually makes him appear not such a dick. I mean obviously Snyder has his own take on Superman, however for him to just fly away as he did in the theatrical cut was fundamentally un-Superman. As to the wheelchair, Lois ends up discovering through her contact Jenet Klyburn (Jena Malone) that the wheelchair was encased in lead, hence Superman not being able to see the bomb. Speaking of Malone, her character Klyburn works for S.T.A.R labs. Both Cyborg and The Flash have connections to S.T.A.R. labs which suggests Malone’s role may be expanded in future films.
One of the major complaints from fans regarding Cavill’s Superman is his apparent lack of humanity in BvS. However, in the Ultimate Cut Clark seeks advice from his Mom in the middle of the night over the phone. The scene is actually very sweet because it’s one of those, “I just needed to hear your voice,” calls. Clark also connects with a wife and son of a criminal that Batman branded. Again there’s a human connection here that was severely lacking in the theatrical release. Moreover, Clark’s investigation of the aftereffects of Batman’s actions lend credence as to why he tries to stop Batman from continuing his crusade.
Also did you know that Batman arranges to have Lex Luthor transferred to Arkham Asylum? Of course not! It wasn’t in the original film. However, when Bats confronts Lex in the prison scene he explicitly states this. Luthor isn’t competent enough to stand trial and while Batman doesn’t brand Luthor and give him a death sentence, he’s not above sending him to the house of horrors that is Arkham Asylum.
That prison sequence where Lex tells Batman that, “He is coming,” makes much more sense in light of a scene just prior to that. Lex is captured in the Kryptonian ship by (CIA agents? Men In Black? Ninjas?) and there’s a brief glimpse of Steppenwolf. The implication is that this will be the Big Bad for Justice League. Makes things infinitely less cryptic.
There’s also a couple miscellaneous scenes that give a nice touch. Bruce pops pills because of his pain after years of fighting crime. There’s some added scenes that show Batman stealing Lex Luthor’s kryptonite rock. Even Jon Stewart (the television host not the Green Lantern, sorry guys) shows up as well.
Now these additions unfortunately don’t complete rectify the flaws inherent in the film. The tone is still too grim. (I refuse to use the word “fun” because what I consider fun is different from someone else. Some people find furry conventions fun. I do not.) Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still underutilized. Jena Malone’s character adds nothing to the story except as a plot device. And sadly no one saw fit to edit out Jesse Eisenberg. In spite of these lingering issues however, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition remains a marked upgrade for DC’s second foray into their expanded universe.
My rating for the theatrical cut: 5/10
My rating for the Ultimate Cut: 8/10
You can follow me as Darth Gandalf on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1