WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW
When I first saw Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was really disappointed. Now, having seen the “Ultimate Edition,” which features 30 minutes of additional footage that had been cut to make the theatrical release more “accessible,” I think it’s a better movie – still deeply flawed, but better.
My original reaction can be summed up by a Facebook post I made on my brother’s wall:
It earned an “E” for “Exceeds Expectations,” because expectations were low. It was better than Man of Steel – which doesn’t say much. Batfleck was pretty good – although I don’t love the gritty, kill-happy Batman. Superman was – to your point – so un-fun, but definitely a badass. In fact, he was so much of a badass that it was more than a little unbelievable that there was even a “vs” to be had – and it required him to turn off his brain out of plot convenience. I didn’t love Lex Luthor, but I commend Eisenberg for going all in on the portrayal choice – I just didn’t think that choice worked well.
Wonder Woman was nice; I could have used more of her but I get that this wasn’t her movie. My biggest beef was how the Justice League stuff was so clumsily shoe-horned in. And I also object to the very last scene; the movie had made a hard choice but then completely backed off of it.
I think there were three different potentially good movies in there: Batman v Superman, what SHOULD Superman be/do, and Dawn of Justice League. It’s too bad they had to try to cram them all together, thereby diluting them all. I’m looking forward to the director’s cut, though. It has 30 min of extra footage so maybe it will feel more coherent and less mismashed.
Indeed my past self turned out to be quite prescient. The #1 benefit of this new edition is that the plot is much, much, much more coherent. Specifically the opening scene in Africa makes much more sense, the reasons that people blame Superman for the resulting carnage make much more sense, Lex Luthor’s role in orchestrating the incident (and others) make much more sense, and Clark’s anti-Batman stance makes much more sense. Additionally, Lois actually has a reason to be in this movie other than just being a damsel in distress McGuffin.
Much of my original criticism remains, however: I simply don’t like this jaded, cynical Batman or this brooding Superman. Superman is supposed to be a symbol of hope for truth, justice and the American way (Speaking of which, happy American Independence Day to all!) but this representation is totally uninspiring. The plot makes more sense now but it still requires multiple characters to do things that are totally out of character . . . because reasons . . . and relies on goofy deus ex Marthas to get where it’s trying to go.
This is a much better version but, at the end of the day, this is still 3 movies cut down and crammed into one – kind of the opposite of Jackson’s The Hobbit adaptation! If you hated the theatrical cut, you won’t love this version but you’ll hate it less. If you loved the theatrical cut, you’ll still love this. If you were on this fence about the theatrical cut, this might push you over the edge to liking the movie.