With all the excitement in the air about the imminent release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (aka The Snyder Cut) in March, I thought it’d be a good time to finally check out the director’s cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition. Clocking in at 31 minutes longer than the theatrical cut, does this R-rated version improve upon the original version and should we get excited for Zack Snyder’s Justice League based off of this version of the movie? Let’s find out.
The Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman is thankfully a much better version than what we got in cinemas. It adds quite a bit of content and thankfully, everything that was added feels essential to making this movie make more sense. One of the main reasons for this is by giving Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent/Superman a lot more things to do. The Man of Steel took a backseat in the theatrical cut, but this version shows him investigating Batman much more thoroughly in Gotham, interviewing citizens who fear the Bat. Likewise, we learn just how much of a death sentence the bat-brand can be from the point of view of the branded’s wife. Through Clark’s investigations, he learns that Batman sees himself as a fearmonger and above the law. Clark feels justified now in having to stop Batman because he’s been told firsthand how scared the citizens of Gotham are of him.
[Credit: Warner Bros.]
This version of Batman V Superman also does a better job of explaining why Superman was framed for the events in Africa. In the theatrical cut, mercenaries employed by Lex Luthor shot up a village and blamed Superman for it, which stuck and many fans and critics were confused as to how this would stick as Superman would never use firearms. This version shows that the villagers were burned by Anatoli and his goons and considering the Man of Steel has heat vision, definitely makes the crime seem more plausible. Not only that, but we learn that one of the survivors was paid off by Lex to testify that Superman was the culprit. This opening sequence makes a lot more sense and makes the movie’s overall plot more cohesive and logical.
[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Another thing that makes more sense is the explanation as to why Superman didn’t see the bomb in Wallace’s wheelchair. L Lois actually gets to do some actually investigating (with the help of Jena Malone’s character, exclusive to this version) and learns that Wallace wasn’t a willing participant in his death; that he didn’t commit suicide but was killed off in order to frame Superman. She also learns that the wheelchair he was using in the senate hearing was made out of lead, which would have rendered Superman’s x-ray vision null and prevented him from stopping the bomb in advance. Again, this is pretty critical information. And while the warehouse fight hasn’t changed that much from the theatrical cut of Batman V Superman, save for a few additional shots of heightened violence, the Batman fight scene against Lex’s goons still ranks as the best Batman fight scene put to film.
The scene where Lex Luthor converses with Steppenwolf is also added to the movie, which gives context to the final conversation he has with Batman in the cell. This scene was released online prior to the release of this cut but it’s still a welcome addition as a segue from Batman V Superman to Justice League. A lot of the scenes that are added in this version just help make other scenes make more sense, as opposed to forcing the audience to make grand assumptions or question how do these characters know all this information.
[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Unfortunately, while the movie does add quite a bit and ensures that there are fewer plot holes than in the theatrical cut by adding content that makes the movie much more logical and cohesive, the problems that were in the original Batman V Superman are still around here. Snyder and his team opted not to remove any scenes from the movie, which is a shame as there are definitely aspects of the movie that could have been trimmed or removed entirely. Chief among them could have been Lex’s speech at his gala, which is painfully awkward to watch (as are most of his odd quirks), and the Martha sequence at the culmination of the duel between the titular characters is still as awkward as it is cringy. Doomsday’s last-minute appearance isn’t alluded to at all until he shows up really, barring Lex running some mysterious experiments on General Zod’s body, so that reveal still comes out of left-field. The Justice League appearances are once again, still relegated to brief cameos in an email attachment. Dawn of Justice indeed. There’s also just a lot of bloat to the movie and sometimes it feels distracted looking ahead to the future.
Hopefully, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has learned a few lessons from the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman. A four hour movie is quite the commitment but if Snyder simply wanted to cram everything he shot into a single narrative, the end result may be in need of another director’s cut if it proves just to be a lot of content as opposed to a lot of meaningful story. The additions that Snyder added to Batman v Superman were largely essential to making the movie that much better, but the Snyder Cut of Justice League isn’t just a director’s cut, it’s his original vision for the movie before he stepped away from the project. If tragedy didn’t strike the family, I have to wonder if Snyder would have honestly released a four-hour cut of Justice League theatrically. My gut says no, which leads me to worry that Snyder opted to leave nothing on the cutting room floor for this sendoff to the “Snyderverse”. Time will tell if Snyder’s latest extended version of a DCEU movie will be the superior offering that offers essential story and character moments or if it will be a lengthy, padded experience that could have used some edits. Stay tuned for our review.