‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’: The Ultimate Edition Review

Let’s just start and say that the theatrical version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a problematic film and quite divisive when it came to theaters. The film ended up grossing a buttload of money, but critically it was considered a failure. I’m not quite sure how a film that grossed more than $800 million could be seen as a failure, but it definitely made fans choose sides. While the action was great, and Batman was awesome, many of the problems of the film seemed to be story related. There were times were some things just didn’t make sense tonally. As a result, director Zack Snyder was raked through the coals in both the press and the fanboy community for the film. The director was on record saying that he did have an R-Rated 3 hour cut of the film, but for the sake of time had to be trimmed down to the film we saw in theaters this past spring. When it was announced that there would be a Director’s Cut of the film being released digitally and on Blu-Ray, some fans had a little bit of skepticism, myself included. I’m more than happy to say that after watching a screening of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition, I’m a convert.

Turns out the big issue with the theatrical cut is editing. This happens in every film, but it wasn’t any more prevalent that editing hindered the story of the film until watching the final cut. This version, while longer than the theatrical, just flows a lot better. There are great character building moments for many of the main characters that absolutely should have remained in the film. Fans who purchase the digital or Blu-Ray might be pulling their hair out wondering why specific scenes were removed from the film after seeing this. Lex Luthor is a better character and his diabolical plot makes more sense. The scene in Africa is fully fleshed out. Batman’s motivation is much clearer, and we get to see more kickass Batman scenes. Clark Kent has his own arc where you get to see him do some actual reporter work. Even Superman smiles! A few of the existing problems in the film remain, but overall this film is 100% better with all the cut scenes in it.

Let’s take a look at some of the stuff in the Ultimate Edition (spoilers)

The Africa Scene Makes Much More Sense.

One issue with the beginning of the film in the Africa sequence. Not only do they kill fan favorite Jimmy Olson, but this sequence pretty much sets up the rest of the movie planting the seeds of “Is Superman good?” With Lois Lane is dangerous territory to interview a terrorist, Superman comes in to save her and is ultimately blamed for all the deaths that occur from Lex Luthor’s private security contractors. There is an arc throughout the theatrical film of Lois investigating the bullet, which happened to have been made my Lexcorp. I remember discussions with fellow geeks along the lines of “Why would Superman shoot anyone?” Superman was literally blamed for the death of all the people at the camp, but they were shot, so it didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

In the Ultimate Cut, this scene is further fleshed out and a few important things are put back into the film. Of course the security contractors shot everyone, but afterward staged their bodies and burned them so it would appear as though they were the victims of a Superman attack. Public perception wise, this would be a scenario more believable. Superman doesn’t use guns, but he sure could burn people with his heat rays.

The War on Terror also exists in this world. Turns out Jimmy Olson was not the only CIA agent on the ground. He simply was the point man for an entire battalion of a Seal Team Six group of soldiers. With Olson down, the CIA had to go to plan B: initiating a drone strike. However, the Seals on the ground know that Lois Lane is toast if the drone launches the missile. So they try to race against a drone (on horseback) to reach Lois. Of course, Lois has a ringer: Superman takes out the drone last minute which further shows the lengths that he will go to protect his beloved.

Lois and Clark Are Actual Reporters

One of the biggest drawbacks from the theatrical cut of the film was how little Henry Cavil had to work with in the film. However in the Ultimate Edition, not only do you see him do more things as Superman, but you get to see Clark Kent work as an actual reporter. He has a problem with Batman’s vigilantism and how brutal he is. But instead of just going out and bashing his head in, he slips into his alter ego, Clark Kent, and walks the beat in Gotham City to learn more about exactly who Batman is.

He interviews local people in Gotham City to find out exactly Batman is and if he’s a good guy or not. Because he’s on the ground in poor neighborhoods, their impression of him isn’t the best because of how ruthless he is with criminals. There is a particularly great arc where Clark Kent learns about the significance of the Batman brand and what it means for happens to bad guys in jail after they have been branded. Lark interviews the girlfriend of one criminal, who knows her boyfriend is doomed once he gets to jail. This serves as the primary motivation for Clark to want to do something about this Batman problem.

Just a Clark does some actual reporting, Lois Lane’s investigation of the bullets is much more fleshed out. There are two scenes where we finally get to see Jena Malone in the film serving as a lab person trying to determine the origins of the metal used in the shootings in Africa. They still don’t say who she is exactly, but there have been some rumors circulating that she was Jenet Klyburn, who in the comics was a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, furthering the connection with both Cyborg and The Flash. Other small scenes show Lois investigating the aftermath of the bomb at the US Capital where she uncovers that Wallace Keefe had bought a fridge full of groceries, and had no plans of detonating himself. This and a few other scenes gives Amy Adams more to do at Lois Lane other than continue to be the damsel in distress.

The R Rating Makes the Brutality Better

While there are some who did not like a world where Batman kills criminals, you gotta admit, this cut upped the ante. The batmobile car chase scene was much more brutal showing Batman dispatching cars left and right. In this cut you see the bullets shred straight through his enemies. The fight scene to get Martha between Batman and Luthor’s goons is even more awesome. That scene in the theatrical cut was well done, upping the ante in this version makes it even better.

An R Rating also means they can be riskier with what they show and what we hear as well. The bathtub scene with Lois and Clark went on longer showing a little bit of their sexuality. While they do not show and real nudity, we do see more of Amy Adams that we saw in the theatrical cut. In addition, we are also treated to a bareback Ben Affleck for a scene as he is standing in the shower pondering his next move. We are also treated to an F-bomb by wheelchair bound Wallace Keef as he meets Lex Luthor for the first time saying “what the f*** do you want?”

The entire scene surrounding the criminal with the bat brand once he makes it to prison was particularly jarring. Not only does this display the genius of Lex Luthor (more on that later), but when the criminal is dispatched, he is done in the most brutal fashion. If anyone has ever seen Oz, then you have an idea how “stabby” prison can be.

A much larger story for Kahina Ziri

She is briefly seen in the theatrical cut, but in the ultimate edition, plays a much larger role. In the theatrical cut, she is one of the witnesses to the African massacre who testified before congress about Superman’s recklessness. Turns out, she’s a local, Luthor paid her off, and she’s one of his loose ends. When Clark is trying to figure out what’s going on, he tries to pay her a visit, but she hides knowing she has to stick to the story. Eventually, guilt takes over, but in before she can testify, Luthor’s henchman Knyazev kills her.

Lex Luthor Improved

Another complaint of Jessie Eisenberg’s interpretation of the Lex Luthor character was that he played it, well like Jesse Eisenberg. While I didn’t have a problem with his performance, he didn’t really “feel” like Lex Luthor. Lex is a criminal mastermind! Then plan on getting Batman and Superman to go toe to toe while made some sense, needed some more fleshing out. In this version of the film, it is really fleshed out and we get a much better understanding of all the steps it took for him to enact his plot of taking down Superman and Batman. Although he failed, the plot was much more clear and concise.

The stinger with him and Batman originally didn’t make much sense when Luthor said: “He’s coming.” Who was he? Fans of the comic knew it was going to be Darkseid, general audiences had no idea. Turns out they both were wrong. In the Ultimate Cut, we get to see Steppenwolf, who will no doubt be the villain in the Justice League film.

Also, Batman sending Luthor to Arkham was a perfect Easter Egg!

The Funeral Scene Was More Developed

In the aftermath of Clark’s sacrifice, while fighting Doomsday, we are reunited with many people from Man of Steel for a proper sendoff in Kansas. We get to see Perry White (who actually had more of a presence throughout the film) and we also got to see a few other cast members from the first Superman film as they had a nice quiet funeral for Clark. We also got to see Pete Ross (the IHOP manager from Man of Steel who knew that Clark was superman also) for a nice cameo. Towards the end, Martha Kent is trying to figure out how to pay for the funeral, but it’s already been taken care of by an “anonymous donor,” who we all know is Bruce Wayne, furthering his respect for Superman towards the end.

Even if you have problems with the theatrical cut, have no fear. The ultimate cut is worth your time to see it. Even though it’s 3 hours+, it actually feels faster than the original because things are much more fleshed out. Character motivations make much more sense, and the film just feels more satisfying. Some cuts are understandable, but others will leave you wondering if the film would have been better received if this version played in theaters.

Theatrical Version Rating: 6/10
Ultimate Edition Rating:   8.5/10

Khalil Johnson

Khalil Johnson

Khalil is a ride or die fanboy who was bitten by a radioactive blogger. Now, he uses his superpowers for online entertainment journalism. ...