Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a muddled, divisive, and underwhelming theatrical release. It’s vilification prompted WB to make huge changes to their emerging ‘DCEU’ going forward.
Perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the ‘Ultimate Edition’, with 30 minutes of extra footage, was released just four months later. Personally I find it less a cash grab and more a chance to see a film that makes more sense. A film that still has problems, but one I like a lot more.
Seeing more of Affleck’s Batman kicking ass is fantastic, but it’s the extra scenes and lines of dialogue included in the Ultimate Edition that make the biggest difference, giving us more character whilst clearing up the majority of the confusion that surrounds the story.
This Batman is broken. Years of fighting and loss has taken it’s toll as this corrupted force of nature bends his environment to suit his weary and violent state of mind. He might not be the Batman we expected but he makes sense. The extra scenes correctly do nothing to change him.
They do change Superman. I cannot fathom how the film was allowed to be edited to portray him in much a mopey and unhelpful fashion. Whose idea was it to cut a scene of him helping people? WHO!? Idiotic and harmful decisions were made regarding Cavill’s take on the Boy Scout and none of them were his fault. His Superman is conflicted and hurt – no wonder after killing the last known member of his race and facing rising public backlash – but he still tries to be a symbol of hope who will always help, even when he is questioned and hated.
I’m standing up for this film but I’m not oblivious to it’s faults. Lex is too much. We didn’t need the Batmobile chase when Batman just ends up following the tracker anyway. The nightmare sequence is cool but extraneous, as is the Flash from the future. We didn’t need videos of the future League and we didn’t need Doomsday.
There absolutely could be a version of this film that comes in comfortably under three hours and still make sense. The LOTR films, and even films such as The Dark Knight Rises, prove that audiences can cope with the time. So length isn’t an excuse from either a storytelling or monetary perspective.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is almost a trilogy on it’s own. Sure it’s dark and sullen, but that’s the point! Both characters, and the world they inhabit, are going through massive changes and aren’t sure how to deal with it. The film is part of the story of how everyone moves forward. Marvel has created a highly successful template that audiences have responded strongly to; it’s not surprising that something so different discouraged people.
It’s not for everyone and it’s far from perfect. But it’s worth defending.