Batman V Superman (Ultimate Edition) — A Retrospective

Warner Bros received heavy slack after the release of the theatrical version after having made fantastic initial trailers and then messing it up with the 3rd act reveals in the final trailer, which was in many people’s opinion (and mine too) a poorly made film.

Removing or adding little bits and pieces here and there makes so much of a difference, doesn’t it? Well that’s exactly what happened with me as I saw this version. As I am a film student, I try to delve for the issues of rhythm and time when one is watching nay experiencing a film. First of all this version starts to move in a more comprehensible way. That I think was lacking in the theatrical version. There were so many abrupt cuts and the sense of who’s coming from where and who’s going where was very weak. In a broader sense, this version gets to see more of the Africa Sequence, more of the bullet investigation, more of Clarke Kent being Clarke Kent, a journalist (thank god!).

Problems even after the extended Cut

  1. Jesse Eisenbergs character has weak motivations. What does he know of The Batman? Why does he want to kill Superman? When was the inception of his idiosyncrasies?
  2. I think there definitely could have been a better way to introduce elements from the Justice League than an email from Bruce Wayne.
  3. I accepted the mystery surrounding the play with Wonder Woman but her character doesn’t have a well defined self sustained arc in this film. Yeah all entertainment these days is serialized I know but I’m sure we’ll love at least a subplot ending within a movie. Wonder Woman came back for the picture of hers that Luthor Had. Did she wipe that data out within the course of the movie? No.
  4. The weight of importance of events still feel shifted a bit too much towards Lois Lane and lesser towards Alexander Luthor. I think if the narrative curves would have been more of a triangle between Batman, Superman and Luthor it would have been a more engaging battle.

Problem but not really a problem

  1. I now trust the tone that these two movies have had. This cut made me put aside my notions of Batman (Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale/Animated Series) and let me think, Hey! Show me what story you’re telling. Let’s see how it goes with this Batman. Man of Steel wasn’t linear (I enjoy that movie a lot) and this is a complicated series of events too. We haven’t seen the past of this branding, murdering and fucked up Batman. Which is fine! He has a solo movie coming. I know! So there’s a story for that perhaps.

Problems solved after the Ultimate Cut

  1. The Martha moment somehow for the first time felt less cheesy to me. It felt a little more weighted but not enough. I guess the point was to introduce the idea to Bruce Wayne that Superman also has a mother (He is human) and he sees himself as the criminal who killed his own mother which makes him piece it all together (because he is “the” detective).
  2. Clarke Kent is developed a little more as a journalist which was seriously lacking before so I cared more for his sacrifice.
  3. A couple of very “comic book brought to life” moments are added like the opening of bottles in the Africa sequence, cops watching a Metropolis vs Gotham football game, new introductions/shots to many such scenes.
  4. Superman wants to care about people (He is shown coming back down after the bomb blast at the senate hearing to help people which is crucial information) but he’s been in a sort of a depression (forever it seems cause he doesn’t smile!) except for the bits in Man of Steel when he first flew.
  5. The warehouse fight involving Batman and Doomsday fight involving the trinity has more intense shots (Rated R) are more cohesive/flow better. More Fun.
  6. The funeral sequence has beautiful slow motion shots of empty roads and the Daily Planet and a lot of Man of Steel recall. I think this is a nice end for the non smiling/Self Serious Superman and we’ll see him smile more in Justice League I’m sure.

When I look back at this (edited post) I do feel the film tried to do too much in one movie. It felt like little bit of a setup for Justice League and Wonder Woman and The Batman while trying to a Man of Steel sequel. Visually its brilliant but plot wise convoluted.

Overall the film feels like an operatic epic with huge ambitions but maybe some of us still won’t like that very thing.