Written by Marvelous Toys' dear friend, Sd Shiva.
Before we begin, remember to check out our Batman v Superman collection here!
Three months ago, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the latest installment in the growing DC Extended Universe (DCEU), made its debut in cinemas worldwide. If you were one of the many who caught the movie, chances are that you either loved it, or hated it.
The drastic divide between the viewers of Snyder’s latest film stems from the fact that many felt its plot was a muddled mess, and with its lengthy two and a half hours of screen time, it is understandable why certain individuals left their screenings with a bitter taste in their mouth.
Personally, I enjoyed the film as it really satisfied the part of me that has been an avid reader of the comics for the past 15 years. As much as the film is criticized, it is indubitable that Snyder knows how to pay homage to the source material, with his renditions of Superman and Batman seemingly clones of their comic book counterparts.
Now that the Ultimate Edition is finally upon us, we can judge for ourselves how much weight exactly their claims hold. Ben Affleck and Snyder himself claimed that it was the way the film was meant to be presented to audiences. As it turns out, at least for myself, this version of the film really does trump over the theatrical release in a variety of ways. Here are five ways in which the film really outshines itself. Be warned, spoilers ahead.
1. DESTRUCTION OF METROPOLIS
Both the theatrical and Ultimate versions of the film start off with a literal bang as the events of Superman’s battle with General Zod from Man of Steel is recapped from the point of view of the civilians trapped in the warzone. While this sequence aptly leaves audiences in shock at the aftermath, it also quickly revealed the confusing editing of the film in the original cut.
After Bruce Wayne rushes towards the collapsing Wayne Enterprises building, we see a dazed Bruce wandering in the dust cloud, before rescuing one of his employees, Wallace Keefe. He then rescues a young girl from some falling debris before realizing that the child’s mother had been killed in the ongoing battle.
While not much has changed in the Ultimate Edition, Bruce also encounters a group of school children and their teacher rushing away from the collapsed building. We find out that the children were there in metropolis on a field trip, and not only does this answer how the girl Bruce later saves had ended up in the area in the first place, but also adds weight to the casualties, which must also have included innocent children who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The tighter editing also sets the tone for the rest of this cut of the movie, which is presented in a much less confusing manner.
2. ATTACK ON NAIROMI
Where to begin? This was by far the most confusing scene of all for me when I first watched the movie. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen visit an African warlord for an exclusive story before Jimmy is revealed to actually be an undercover CIA agent. Everything becomes a blur after that. Superman appears and saves Lois, but gets framed by a group of mercenaries, later revealed to be working for Lex Luthor, for killing innocent villagers.
When I watched this scene, I had so many questions. How long has this version of Jimmy been an undercover agent? How does Superman know that Lois is in danger? How do bullet wounds on the bodies of the villagers equate to an attack by Superman?
Thankfully, the Ultimate Edition answers all these questions completely, and gives the scene enough significance to justify the fifteen to twenty minutes of screen time it takes up.
Instead of simply cutting to Lois meeting the warlord, the scene is set up with a meeting between “Jimmy” and Lois, with the former standing in as her new partner. This explains that she truly had no idea that he was a covert operative, and also suggests that the whole Jimmy Olsen persona might be a cover up and that the character is still alive with the DCEU.
Of course, he did not come alone on this mission, and his backup ride towards the village on horseback as the U.S. military send an armed drone to destroy the terrorist base. It is this commotion that draws the attention of the Man of Steel, who flies over to Africa not because he knows that his lover is in danger of being shot by a warlord, but because he thinks a missile is about to kill her.
The last piece of the puzzle is made clear by a scene that depicts how the shot up bodies of the villagers are burnt with a flamethrower, and by the time they are discovered by the soldiers on horseback, the corspes look as if Superman had used his heat vision on them.
Aside from the additional scenes, this sequence also justifies the film’s R rating, with a whole lot more blood splatters than one might expect from a superhero movie these days.
3. BAT BRAND OF JUSTICE
Remember the criminal that we are introduced to in Batman’s first scene in the movie? The police officers find him chained to some steel pipes, having been branded by Batman.
In the scenes that follow, we are constantly reminded that the “bat brand” is as good as an execution order for criminals, those with the mark often end up lynched in jail. True enough, we eventually see an autopsy report of the criminal and are told that he has been killed, but the entire scene is so insignificant that most will just ignore it altogether.
In the Ultimate Edition, however, the subplot is expended so that we see how his murder happens. He gets led out of his cell into the jail yard, where another inmate stabs him to death. Most interestingly is the fact that his murderer is given the kill order by one of Luthor’s mercenaries, implying that all bat brand murder cases were orchestrated by Luthor himself.
Not only does this add more impact to Batman’s standing as judge, jury and executioner in the eyes of the criminal population, it also exposes Luthor’s plan to turn Batman and Superman against each other, which makes the eventual reveal a little less confusing for the attentive movie goer.
4. BATMAN AND SUPERMAN; MORE THAN MEETS THAN EYE
Of course, we cannot have a re-edited version of the film without having significant changes to the characterization of the two leading men. The complains most have about the original cut is that Superman is too one-dimensional a character, and that Batman seemed overly angry at Superman for no good reason at all.
While the characters still have these issues at their core, the additional scenes in the Ultimate Edition help piece their individual plots together much more cohesively, so that when their paths eventually cross, everything makes a whole lot more sense.
For example, we get to see Clarke Kent actually pay a visit to Gotham City prior to his first encounter with Bruce Wayne or Batman under the premise of covering a sports story, which eventually gets him into trouble with his editor, Perry White, as his interest in the Bat Vigilante gets the better of his attention.
During his time in Gotham, Clarke encounters an elderly man, who tells him that Batman is “angry” and is “hunting” criminals. Not only does this go against Clarke’s righteous superhero code of conduct, it also establishes Batman as a beast of a vigilante, and as someone who is not messing around.
Similarly, we are given plenty of insight as to why exactly Bruce is such an angry Batman, especially when compared to his cinematic predecessors. He has been going at it for a long while, and his one man crusade on crime has clearly taken a toll on him. In the scene where he wakes up after his nightmare involving a bat-like creature bursting out of his mother’s grave, Bruce swallows a handful of pills, before downing them with a glass of wine. We know that we are dealing with a worn out, much more reckless version of Bruce Wayne, and it translates to the additional rage he exhibits when he is in his other suit.
Batman’s fight scenes with Luthor’s mercenaries are probably what contributed to the R rating as well, with his raw aggression seen in the original cut taken up a notch in the Ultimate Edition, with blood splatters, the sound of bone crunching, and an off camera moment of Batman taking out his rage on one unfortunate criminal, which we do not see but definitely hear.
5. LUTHOR'S FATE
While Lex Luthor is first introduced as the laid back owner of Lexcorp, it quickly becomes apparent that he is not completely sound in the mind. However, his intelligence and cunning is not to be trifled with, as he is clearly the main villain of the film, pulling strings at every corner to get what he desires.
The problem with the character’s actions in the original cut of the film, however, is that they are far too vague for most movie goers to grasp, especially if one does not have prior knowledge of how Luthor functions in the comics.
Fortunately, everything is made a lot more obvious in the Ultimate Edition of the film, and even early on it is possible to deduce that Luthor is playing the puppet master over numerous other unsuspecting characters, including Batman and Superman themselves.
As with most villains in popular culture, Luthor’s plan eventually falls apart, and he is put being bars, with Batman eventually confirming, in the Ultimate Edition, that he is being brought to Arkham Asylum, the infamous penitentiary that houses many of the Dark Knight’s more twisted foes.
However, it is quite abrupt how quickly Luthor’s implied insanity takes over his entire being in the original cut, with the character’s mental state degenerating significantly between his creation of Doomsday and his final scenes in the jail cell.
This mystery is solved in the ultimate edition, where it is revealed that Luthor encounters another alien being in Zod’s fallen ship, and this being is the one that shows Luthor the approaching threat that will befall the Earth in the near future, which is why he says “He is coming” in the ending scenes.
While the “He” is very likely a reference to Darkseid, which many believe will be a villain in one of the future Justice League movies, the alien that Luthor encounters is in fact Steppenwolf, uncle of Darkseid and one of the menacing New Gods. He is also confirmed to be the villain of the first part of the Justice League movie that releases next year.
Once again, remember to check out our Batman v Superman collection here!