This month, the Batman v Superman Ultimate Cut was released to home video. It features over half an hour of unseen footage, and addresses one of the most critical flaws observed in the theatrical release: the pacing.
The main difference between the two is the inclusion of several individually small, yet crucial scenes, which help to flesh out the motivation of the titular characters. While watching the ultimate cut, the extra half hour is barely noticeable. It is genuinely a better film now, and it would appear that Zack Snyder and WB have pulled off another Watchmen/Sucker Punch, in that the directors cut is leaps and bounds better than the theatrical release.
1. It flows Better
A very vocal portion of the general audience, and indeed most critics, complained that it was a messy, nonsensical and even bad film. The Ultimate Cut irons out those issues, adding in a few scenes that help establish context, make the build-up less disjointed, and flesh out the various motivations of the characters, helping bring together a more cohesive and clear narrative.
2. The tone is more justified
Many also complained that the film was unnecessarily dark, with people chalking it up to just be Snyder’s “style”.
This film is actually both darker and more brutal, however, this cut of the film validates the tone a lot more. Many have noted the similarities of the film with the grizzled and battle-weary caped crusader in Frank Miller’s the Dark Knight Returns and Batman v Superman’s Batfleck.
Further, unlike the theatrical cut, this one explores the central conflicts a lot more in depth, which made the doom, gloom, and general dourness much less disingenuous. It’s not dark just for the sake of being dark and gritty.
3. Characters motivations are more clear
The biggest difference, though, is the way this cut brings out the motivations of the characters.
The opening scene shows Bruce Wayne/Batman caught in the midst of the carnage that is witnessed in the city of Metropolis at the end of Man of Steel. He is convinced Superman is a danger, and he’s sick of seeing people getting hurt because of him, and to top it off, he’s just lost hundreds of his own employees because of him. He’s both angry and disillusioned, and this sets him on his tunnel-visioned journey.
Superman is struggling to deal with the responsibilities of his role as protector of the people. He doesn’t have any answers, and nor do the people. Meanwhile he learns of the Bat of Gotham, and how he’s started branding criminals. This bat-brand is essentially a death warrant for anyone who gets imprisoned. He gets obsessed with stopping this reign of vigilante terror.
The scene set in rural Africa, serves a completely different purpose in this film. It’s got a lot more significance, and this is mainly because the scenes that were entirely removed from the theatrical cut serve to add a lot more depth. Now you know why the US government specifically, along with the entire world, is is both fearful and angry at Superman, while also showing the audience how Lex Luthor was pulling strings from the shadows all along. This is further complicated by an explosion at the US Capitol building, also a setup on the part of Luthor.
Lex Luthor himself is quite simply a nutcase who craves both power and attention. Does he need a personal motive? His troubled childhood leads him to believe that Superman is either all powerful, or all good. He cannot be both. His aim is to “expose” this to the world.
4. There’s more validation of the main conflict
Without the limitation of a two and a half hour run-time, Snyder was more or less free to craft this movie, injecting numerous scenes of character and plot-building.
Superman feels that Batman is no better than the criminals he takes on, and Batman himself harbors a hatred for Superman.
“What happens there is one of Bruce’s buildings gets destroyed and he’s trying to save all the people inside the building and he can’t, so he is this angry person who fears what Superman may do. Why are they just going to trust this super-powered alien? What if he does decide to turn against us?”
This is by no means extraordinary, but the story-line leaves the audience with the realization that here are two titans, helplessly caught up in the machinations of a lunatic, fighting each other like puppets. As a Batman fan I went in to the film, hoping for him to decisively crush Superman, but in the end, when the fight actually began, I found myself unable to pick a side I supported.
5. Bruce Wayne’s Butt
I highly recommend giving this movie another watch, or finally watching it, if you haven’t: it’s a completely different movie to the one that hit the cinema screens. Although, it’s still far from perfect, one must remember that in the end, it is a comic book movie. Don’t critique it like it’s arthouse cinema.
Personally, I’m psyched for Justice League.