Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice proved to be one of the most divisive superhero blockbusters in movie history, garnering harsh reviews from critics and a very mixed response from comic book fans. While some defended elements of the film many agreed with the critical panning, drawing inevitable comparisons between the DC Comics entry and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Adding fuel to the fire? The release of an extended, R-rated DVD cut entitled Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition.
The lengthier home version of the movie was announced last March, drawing both excitement and skepticism from audiences, as well as widespread speculation as to whether the extra 30 minutes could really save such a hugely criticized movie. With Ultimate Edition now available, the question remains: Does the highly hyped extended cut actually make for a better film?
Luckily for fans, the answer is yes, even if it’s only marginally so. While the Ultimate Edition probably won’t be enough to change the minds of those who vehemently hated the Zack Snyder-directed flick, the extra half hour does go a significant way toward delivering a broader, more ambitious and fully fleshed out movie.
Many of the highly critiqued elements of the film are fixed in Ultimate Edition, with by far the most notable change being its treatment of Clark Kent aka Superman. One of the most cited problems with the theatrical version was that it seemed to short the Man of Steel, instead placing a heavy emphasis on Ben Affleck’s Batman. The extended version not only gives Clark much more to do, but also more clearly showcases the growth of his concern over Batman’s type of justice. You see him actually being an investigative reporter, using his skills to look further into the Dark Knight. He travels to Gotham City to get a better understanding of how residents view the caped vigilante and learns that many avoid being out after dark for fear of attracting Batman’s wrath. He even meets with the wife and son of one of the criminals that Batman has branded. This all makes the moment that Superman first confronts Batman much more weighted and meaningful.
There are also a couple of additional scenes that show Superman being less of a mopey, disgruntled hero and more of… well, Superman. In one, he is shown rescuing civilians and bringing them to aid after the detonation of the Senate-destroying bomb. It’s a small thing, but a poignant reminder of the responsible man of the people that the Man of Steel is supposed to be.
The Ultimate Edition also helps highlight just how far Lex Luthor‘s masterminding goes. The confusing opening scene, in which Superman is somehow framed for the murder of several people in the war-torn area of Africa, is expanded upon, not only showcasing how the people were killed at the hand of Luthor’s hitman, KGBeast, but also clarifying why Superman earned any blame in the first place. It turns out Luthor’s henchman burned the bodies with a flamethrower, making it look like the effect of Superman’s heat vision.
That alone puts the movie off to a better start, but Ultimate Edition also goes on to provide a lot more insight into Lex’s overall plan. Some of this clarification comes in the form of an entirely new character, Kahina Ziri (Wunmi Mosaku). Heartbroken at the loss of her family in the attack and convinced that Superman is the culprit, Kahina testifies at the United States Senate about the ordeal. Her testimony plays a big part in the case against the Man of the Steel and eventually leads to his required appearance in front of the committee.
As we know from the theatrical version, his defense of himself is cut short by the explosive hidden in Wally’s wheelchair. But the extended cut also shows that just as Kahina is feeling guilty over her part in the framing of Superman, one of Luthor’s guys pushes her in front of an oncoming train, stopping her before she can reveal Superman’s innocence. The added subplot helps give a deeper look into the intricacies of Lex’s scheme and how it played out. It also gives Amy Adams’s Lois Lane some more screen time, as she takes it upon herself to look deeper into Luthor’s role in perpetuating the attack in Africa.
Speaking of additional characters, Ultimate Edition also finally reveals the long-rumored role of Jena Malone. Despite rumors that she could be playing Batgirl, she actually portrays laboratory technician Jenet Klyburn, who helps Lois to discover the origins of the bullet created by Luthor. The scene doesn’t add much to the overall film, but serves as a potential indicator of her inclusion in upcoming DC movies.
The Ultimate Edition DVD includes a myriad of other small changes as well, including more of Wonder Woman, longer fight sequences between the titular heroes, and plenty of amped-up violence. That being said, it definitely doesn’t fix all of the movie’s problems. The tone is still largely heavy and somber, so viewers who found the characters and overall film kind of joyless likely won’t be swayed by a few added light-hearted moments. And while Luthor’s story may be expanded upon, those who were irritated by Jesse Eisenberg‘s version of the villain won’t find any relief in the extended version. Plus, while the extra half hour adds some valuable backstory, it also makes the movie feel quite long, so it’s understandable why Warner Bros. would choose to cut it down.
Overall though, the Ultimate Edition will prove worthy watching for those who are willing to invest the time and it may even help boost some viewers’ confidence about Snyder’s upcoming work in the DC universe, specifically Justice League.
Speaking of which, the Justice League is also the subject of the only truly interesting featurette in the DVD, outside of the film itself. The video offers some behind-the-scenes looks at the casting and filming of the cameos in Batman v Superman, as well as plans for the characters in the upcoming film. Other than that, expect the same extra videos as the regular video release, including the creation of the Batmobile and profiles of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition is available for $24.95 on Amazon.
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