Zack Snyder reveals the 40 minutes he cut from his superhero epic. It’s a pity he cut it.
If you were one of the many people frustrated by having to wait 90-100 minutes to see Batman and Superman fight in a film literally titled Batman v Superman, prepare to have your patience tested even further by Zack Snyder’s ULTIMATE EDITION Director’s Cut, in which our two heroes do not exchange blows until just after the 2 hour mark. Such is the nature of this extended, three-hour cut, which adds generous handfuls of new scenes to the film’s slow and overcomplicated first act, while leaving the later action as underwhelming and insubstantial as it ever was.
For those of us whose interest lies more in seeing superheroes fret over moral dilemma than fight to the death, this longer version of Snyder’s film is a true treat. The expansion of the running time allows Amy Adams’ Lois Lane to occupy a more significant role, as espionage (be it unnecessary enough to the plot that its removal went unnoticed) is uncovered through brown enveloped and hidden microphones. For its first hour at least, Dawn of Justice is a terrific thriller. But it ain’t much of a superhero film. Superman’s flight- the main draw of a Superman film for most- is shown only from a distance as Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne surveys the “Battle of Metropolis” from afar. The Man of Steel never gets a full-on flight scene in this film– which is fine, as long as you accept the overwhelming Batman-y nature of what Snyder has produced.
Dawn of Justice is an equally tonally dour project to Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, yet the inherent silliness of the Superman elements remove any sense of realism. When Lex Luthor’s horrific Doomsday shows up in the last act- a lazy means by which to assemble DC Trinity- all hope of an earthy, gritty comic-book adaptation is dead.
It’s unarguably the Superman half of the story that benefits from the extra 30-40 minutes of this Ultimate Edition. In addition to the aforementioned favours to Lois Lane, Clark Kent himself is slightly more developed, while Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor- in our opinion, the best thing in the film- is given more space to dance around theatrically as he performs in a completely different film to everyone else. This Luthor is the best comic-book movie villain since Loki: brash, unpredictable and- most importantly- bearing more energy and charisma than the film’s two titular heroes combined. We hope to see more of Eisenberg in future DC releases.
What this Ultimate Edition ultimately (get it?) is is a more coherent version of a by definition incoherent film. Batman v Superman is too flawed to be considered great- the Doomsday last-act fight and the painful set-up for Justice League remain horrendous missteps- but with increased twists and turns in its surprisingly well-scripted early portion, this is a far smarter and more distinctive blockbuster than we deserved from Zack Snyder. While audiences embraced Deadpool‘s crude arrogance and Civil War‘s slick (but utterly soulless) efficiency, Batman v Superman trounces both films in ideas and in admirably ambitious scenery. One scene added to the Ultimate Edition sees a gang of terrorists ride (horseback and on motorbikes) through the desert to escape a US drone strike. That Snyder cut such an expensive sequence from the theatrical version of his film is testament to his dedication to making a proper Batman v Superman. He didn’t really succeed, but boy did he try.