Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered a muddled, divisive, and underwhelming theatrical release. The subsequent vilification of the film prompted WB to make changes to their emerging ‘DCEU’, with the knock-on effects still being felt today.
The release of an ‘Ultimate Edition’ a mere four months later, containing 30 minutes of extra footage, wasn’t a shock. Many argued it was nothing more than a cash grab; an opportunity to recoup some of the huge budget. From a purely business perspective, yes I’m sure that’s the case. But from a story and film point of view, this was a chance to see ‘BvS’ fundamentally make more sense. The underling ideas and choices made still present issues, but it’s the extra footage creates a far more cohesive film, that I view in a much more positive light than most.
The extra scenes and lines of dialogue included in the Ultimate Edition make a huge difference to the overall story, giving us more character moments whilst clearing up much of the confusion created by the frankly irresponsibly editing.
Batman and Superman
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. The visuals and age of this Dark Knight were always inspired by The Dark Knight Returns, so why is anyone surprised when he’s vengeful and willing to cross the line? There could never be enough of BvS’s Batfleck kicking ass, so more time with the warehouse fight is welcome, but extra scenes correctly do nothing to change him.
They do change Superman. I don’t feel it was ever Snyder’s intention to make the Man of Steel appear mopey and unhelpful. The additional editing that took place on Snyder’s cut was idiotic and harmful, seriously undermining Cavill’s performance. This Superman has every right to feel conflicted and hurt after killing the last known member of his race. Yet despite that, and facing rising public backlash, he still tries to be a symbol of hope. Additional scenes explain both more of his personal situation, and the reasons why he didn’t see a bomb right beside him. Knowing that he’s been deceived, and that his enemy knows him extremely well, makes his doubt all the more realistic.
I may be standing up for this film but I’m not oblivious to it’s faults. Luthor is too much. We didn’t need the Batmobile chase when Batman just ends up following the tracker anyway. The nightmare sequence is extremely cool but alongside future Flash only serves to confuse matters. We didn’t need to see the League, and we didn’t need either Doomsday or him killing Superman. Wonder Woman came across very well, but the film should have focused more on how Batman, Lex, and the world view Superman, and his response to that.
Snyder does have a storytelling style that I’d partly describe as ‘sprawling’. Just watch Watchmen. Still, there could have been a version of this film no longer than the longest Nolan Batman film (165 minutes). Extra run time wasn’t needed; another draft of the script and a competent/sympathetic editing process was.
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! The characters and their world are going through upheaval 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. But again, if you know Snyder, and you’ve seen Watchmen, is there much here that should surprise you?
TL;DR – Lose ‘Dawn of Justice’, and focus on the ‘v’.
Batman v Superman is not for everyone, and it’s far from perfect. But it’s worth defending.