Mere days before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice pummeled its way into theaters, director Zack Snyder revealed that there would be a longer (nearly 3 hours!) R-Rated cut of the film for its eventual home video release. This news was met with confusion before folks had a chance to see the theatrical cut, and met with downright disdain after. But perhaps there was still hope — perhaps this longer, darker cut might make sense of the film’s lackluster narrative?
Now Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition is here — releasing on VOD today before a Blu-ray release July 19. Does the Ultimate Edition fix the problems of the theatrical release? We’ll be posting a more detailed Blu-ray review that addresses that question, but the short answer is: no. This is still the same movie, just longer. And while the increased runtime adds a few elements here and there, it does not drastically change the film as a whole. The biggest difference between the Ultimate Edition and the theatrical cut is that the extent to which Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) goes to turn Batman against Superman is more detailed: Kahina Ziri (Wunmi Mosaku) — the African woman who testifies before Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) about how Superman showed up in her village and possibly murdered everyone — is revealed to have been paid by Lex to give false testimony against Superman. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has a slightly bigger part as she investigates and uncovers more and more of Lex’s nefarious doings, and while more of Amy Adams is never a bad thing, the material she’s working with is so dull and un-engaging that it does the film no favors. Lois’ investigation leads her to cross paths with a character played by Jena Malone, and Malone’s mysterious cut-from-the-theatrical-version character perhaps lead to the most rampant speculation among those tracking the film’s rumors. Most assumed that Malone was playing Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl aka Oracle, but in actuality her character is scientist Jenet Klyburn. She pops up for two scenes, and while Malone looks great with a platinum blonde bob haircut, and appears to even be flirting with Lois in her brief scenes, why Snyder felt the need to cast an actress of Malone’s caliber in such a thankless, nothing part is just another one of this film’s many mysteries.
Because I’m such a masochist, and because I’m committed to bringing you HOT CONTENT™, I’ve provided a detailed list below of all the new scenes included in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition. You could say I’m the hero you deserve. You’re welcome.
— The credits now include “ULTIMATE EDITION” under the title, and Jena Malone’s name listed under Scoot McNairy.
— During the big opening “Battle of Metropolis” scene, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) rushes into a cloud of smoke and spots an entire group of kids on a field trip…for some reason. The kids are quickly hurried away by their teacher.
— In Africa, Lois Lane’s photographer who turned out to be a CIA spy has an introductory scene where he reveals he is, in fact, Jimmy Olsen (played by Michael Cassidy). When Lois greets him, Jimmy yells out, “Ms. Lane — Jimmy Olsen, photographer!” The entire set-up to the African sequence in general is longer, and we’re shown that there are more CIA agents nearby. When things start to go south they try to rush in to save the day (riding on horses!), but aren’t fast enough to beat a drone the U.S. government has sent in to just bomb the whole place (and Lois) into smithereens.
— Superman stops the drone (obviously) and saves Lois’ life. In the theatrical cut, Lex Luthor’s henchman Anatoli Knyazev (Callan Mulvey) and his goons open fire and shoot several villagers to death. This still happens here — and since this is the R-Rated cut there’s more CGI blood exploding out of those bullet wounds. But after the shooting, Anatoli has several bodies rounded up and burned with a blowtorch. When the CIA agents on horses finally show up, they find a pile of charred bodies — this gruesome spectacle plants the seed that Superman is the one who killed all these people, and it certainly makes a lot more sense than the theatrical version. After all, a pile of burned bodies could indicate Superman used his heat-vision to torch the joint, whereas in the film released to theaters the only method of execution we see is via those mysterious prototype bullets — and guns aren’t exactly Superman’s style.
— Before the big introduction to Batman in Gotham, we’re treated to a scene of the two cops who eventually cross his path first watching a football game between Gotham and Metropolis’ teams on a TV in their car. Makes for some great cinema! (No it doesn’t)
— After returning home from Africa, Lois Lane checks her mail and unpacks her suitcase. Again, really “compelling” stuff!
— After Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) sends Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) to Gotham to write about the big football game (that already happened in a previous scene?), Clark instead begins to investigate Kahina Ziri (Wunmi Mosaku), the woman who spoke out against him both to Congress and on TV. She’s apparently staying with some relatives in The Narrows in Gotham, but he can’t locate her. Instead he chats with some locals about Batman, and one gentleman from the neighborhood scratches off a lotto-ticket in the shape of the Bat symbol…for some reason. This scene seems to imply that even though Batman has been operating in Gotham for years, Clark/Superman has no idea he even exists until this moment.
— Clark is bothered when he learns that Lois is secretly investigating one of those strange bullets she picked up in Africa.
— Bruce Wayne takes a shower at one point, and you get to see his bare ass! Pretty sure this is the first naked Batman in film history, so that’s something.
— Clark calls his mother Martha (Diane Lane) and the two talk about Kevin Costner’s character, the deceased Pa Kent.
— Lois, investigating the magic bullet, pays a visit to Jena Malone’s character, who seems pretty flirty, and makes one wish these two excellent actresses were in a better movie together instead of …whatever this is.
— Scoot McNairy gets to drop an F-bomb when he returns home to find Luthor chilling in his apartment: “What the fuck do you want?!” he barks.
— The theatrical cut made a big deal about Batman branding criminals with a red-hot bat-symbol branding iron, and briefly mentioned that inmates in prisons with this brand are quick to be killed by fellow prisoners…for some reason? It was all kind of vague. In the Ultimate Edition we see that Lex and company pay one of the inmates to “shiv” the latest bat-brandee in the prison yard. This is all part of Lex’s plan to stoke the fires of Superman’s outrage at Batman’s methods.
— Jon Stewart has a cameo on TV as himself hosting The Daily Show, even though this film was released long after he had left this position. He’s seen delivering some angry diatribe about how Superman doesn’t want to be seen as American. It’s a weird, nonsensical scene that feels unfinished.
— Clark digs into the death of the bat-branded inmate (who was transferred to a Metropolis prison). He also talks with the dead man’s ex-girlfriend, who utters this humdinger of a line about Batman: “Know what stops him? A fist!”
— The big Batmobile chase scene — where Batman chases down Luthor’s men and Superman stops him — feels extended, but that might be a case of poor pacing rather than additional scenes.
— Kahina Ziri begins to fear for her life. She goes to Senator Finch and spills the beans about Luthor paying her to smear Superman’s name. Later, Luthor’s henchman Anatoli pushes her in front of a speeding train. Have I mentioned how unpleasant this movie is?
— After the bombing of the Capitol via Scoot McNairy’s fancy new wheelchair, there’s a brief scene where Superman is carrying survivors to safety. In the theatrical cut, he more or less flees the scene right after the bombing, in a very un-Superman like way. He still cuts out early here, but we at least get to see him saving a few lives first.
— Alfred (Jeremy Irons) chops some wood! Thrilling!
— The media is quick to assume Superman was in on the bombing at the Capitol, even though that makes no sense at all. There’s a moment where protesters burn Superman in effigy on TV to hammer home how angry everyone is at him.
— Lois pays a visit to Scoot McNairy’s apartment, and concludes that since it’s stocked with fresh groceries, he didn’t realize he was going to die. Later, she calls up Jena Malone who reveals that the bomb in the wheelchair was shielded in lead — which is why Superman didn’t detect it. This is a detail that’s established in other forms of Superman media — he can’t see through lead! — but neither this film nor Man of Steel ever mentioned that, so it’s placement here is odd.
— Lois’ abduction by Lex’s goons is a bit longer and more detailed — ya know, for all you abduction fans out there.
— After the big, long battle between Doomsday, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, the authorities capture Lex as he’s summoning some weird…monster…thing. The character is supposedly “Steppenwolf”, one of the generals of DC “big bad” Darkseid. Warner Brothers released this scene online days after the film hit theaters.
— While the joint funerals of Superman and Clark Kent are happening we’re treated to some artful shots of a mostly empty Metropolis — businesses are closed, the streets are abandoned, everyone is at Superman’s funeral.
— In Smallville, Martha suddenly stops out of nowhere post-funeral and declares, “I left my checkbook back at the house! I need it to pay for the funeral!” Someone politely informs her that the funeral has already been paid for by an anonymous donor — Bruce Wayne.
— When Batman visits (and threatens) Lex Luthor in jail he also comments that he’s arranged it so that Lex will be sent to Arkham Asylum.
And that’s it! Nothing too drastic or game-changing. Those hoping for one of those Ridley Scott-style director’s cuts that presents an entirely different, better film (a la Kingdom of Heaven) should temper their expectations. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition is now available on Digital HD. It arrives on Blu-ray July 19.