5 Things to Know About ‘Batman v. Superman’ Ultimate Edition

It’s rare when a movie makes $900 million worldwide it is widely viewed as a massive disappointment. That’s because Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the movie intended to launch the DC Comics Universe and lead to the subsequent Justice League movies, was viewed as a massive disappointment by critics and audiences alike.

Actually, “disappointment” is an understatement. Especially among critics, the movie was received with vile hatred at times, thanks to an overly dark tone, questionable storytelling and generally uninteresting characters.

I was simply disappointed. Growing up, I read DC Comics almost exclusively. I loved Batman, and I read a lot of Superman. Justice League, too. Regardless, what I saw in Batman v. Superman was a solid premise—an angry Batman, fearful of the God-like powers of Superman and his potential for world domination—undone by an overreliance on visual effects and moodiness that doesn’t work in a story where its main characters wear capes.

I didn’t hate it, but I was extremely disappointed (read my original Batman v. Superman review here).

Enter: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition, a director’s cut that adds half an hour to the theatrical’s already long two-and-a-half hour runtime. And you know what? The combined benefit of lessened expectations and added scenes that help add clarity to the story and characters meant I actually enjoyed the movie this time around.

Here are five things to know:

  1. The Ultimate Edition explains that whole African sequence a bit better.
    It’s still a bit convoluted, but added scenes explain how Superman could actually get framed for killing a bunch of people (after they were shot), something that really made no sense in the theatrical cut. There’s also an added shot that shows Superman destroying a missile and drone in a pretty cool way.
  2. Henry Cavill is given more to do.
    One original complaint is that this sequel to Man of Steel (an exclusively Superman film) pushes Superman to the background in favor of highlighting Ben Affleck and his incarnation of Batman. Frankly, Cavill spent most of the theatrical version looking very depressed and angry—which is pretty skewered take on the world’s greatest superhero. The Ultimate Edition adds several scenes where Clark Kent travels to Gotham to investigate Batman, interacts with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in a more meaningful way, and generally is given more to do. The director’s cut doesn’t fully solve the Superman problem, but it makes strides in the right direction.
  3. Superman does a little more to help at the senate hearing.
    After the bomb kills everyone at the senate hearing, the theatrical cut simply shows Superman standing in flames, looking pissed. And then the movie moves on, as if this horrible event never happened. In the Ultimate Edition, Superman sticks around for a minute to help people get to safety—footage that really, really should have been shown in theaters.
  4. The Ultimate Edition doesn’t improve the climax, as expected.
    The big battle between Batman and Superman is about the same, and ends with the same cheesy “Your mother’s name was Martha, too?” realization. And the climax, in which Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman take on Doomsday, is still a rather bland menagerie of special effects. On my second viewing, I largely zoned out.
  5. The Ultimate Edition moves the wrong direction in teasing Justice League.
    While I liked the sequence where Wonder Woman looks at the footage of the other soon-to-be Justice League members, Zack Snyder stuffed plenty of random and unnecessary references to events that will be explained in the upcoming Justice League The movie would have been improved had he cut the entire “Desert Batman” sequence, the “time traveling Flash” scene, and other moments that don’t add any value to the current movie. In fact, the Ultimate Edition adds a quick scene at the end that helps explain why Lex Luthor is teasing the arrival of Darkseid—but it’s just another unexplained bit that will leave most audiences scratching their heads. A complete removal of this material would have resulted in a shorter, more efficient story.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition won’t win over people who strongly disliked the movie—it is still marred by plenty of dumb or downright bad filmmaking decisions—but if you were like me, someone who walked away somewhat disappointed by the theatrical version, this director’s cut is an improvement.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Action Movies, Comic Book Movies