“Tell me... Do you bleed.” The Dark Knight certainly got his answer to that burning question when the two DC Comics icons finally came head-to-head for the first time in what was marketed as the “biggest event” of the blockbuster movie season.
Positioning is everything! On the summer film release calendar it can make or break a film, especially when it comes to its box office. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was without a doubt the most anticipated event film of the season. It landed itself a very coveted early release date on the calendar of blockbuster films for 2016, but even with so much of an early lead — intended to avoid any overlap with Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War sequel — the feature fell short of critics and audience anticipated.
BvS made itself a very handsome and lucrative lump sum pulling in 871 million in ticket sales, but as far as fans were concerned it was a knockdown, drag out bore, and speculation began: if this was director Zack Snyder’s vision of the DC Comics Universe faith in the cinematic future of the film series had been shaken. The clash of these two pop-culture icons was expected to usher in a competitive age of serialized superhero storylines on the big screen, but instead BvSwas dark, dank and primordially hopeless.
The thematically oppressive tone of the film wasn’t at all what moviegoers were expecting and clocking at over 2 hours, it tested audiences patiences as well. Having waited for such a long time to finally see these two characters (three if you count Wonder Woman) fans wanted something more succulent and definitive along the lines of what Marvel Films so successfully achieved with its Avengers films.
After all the Justice League feature which will bring together Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the metahumans introduced in BvS is already in production, the Wonder Woman solo film will premiere next year, and Suicide Squad (premiering in August) will sport the next appearance of the Dark Knight within the establishing film continuity, so the ball is rolling — whether audiences (want to) like it or not. Fortunately Snyder isn’t necessarily tasked with bringing every film to life. Although he is directing the Justice League feature, Snyder and his wife producer Deborah Snyder will be only overseeing the remaining lot.
Ahead of the release of the Blu-ray/DVD of his blockbuster, Snyder has perhaps given audiences an opportunity to relive Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with an extended Ultimate Edition that adds more than 30 minutes to theatrical version making it a much closer representation of what the director original intended. Interestingly enough, the 30 or more minutes — placed sporadically throughout the final version — does make a significant difference especially helping to elaborate on key plot development that was vacant from the version seen in films.
The motivations among our heroes become a lot clearer, especially with Ben Affleck’s “Batman”. Bruce Wayne’s drive to seek vengeance upon Henry Cavill’s “Superman” is heavily stunted in the theatrical to get to the action sequences. Audiences will appreciate that the Ultimate Edition gives us of Bruce to build on — as well as his Caped Crusader who hunts the scum of Gotham City. Superman by contrast is carrying the weight of the world on his massive shoulders, feeling that he is a god among mortals who may fear him. All the while Superman’s alter ego is deeply in love with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and he will do anything to protect her.
The peripheral cast members including the film’s villain Jesse Eisenberg as “Lex Luthor” are given plenty of more room to breathe as well. Lex is obsessed with these two heroes and goes to great length to discredit them, including manipulating Holly Hunter’s senator to reach his inevitable end. Jeremy Irons as “Alfred” gets more screen time, which helps to flesh out his place in the mythology at more firmly than the theatrical release allowed. It’s no wonder that Irons panned the film after it was ripped to shreds by critics. The Ultimate Edition gives us more to sink our teeth into, and gives Irons as well as Adams more to do.
Then there’s Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman” which fits seamlessly into the film and completes the trinity. There isn’t additional footage — at least it doesn’t seem like it — but with more storylines and plot filled out due to the additional scenes, suddenly that there is a “wonder woman” in this world makes complete sense. The rise of the metahumans gives great pause to normal humans who fear that these gods among them will replace them. With a scene spliced back in that establishes Lois Lane’s collaboration with Jena Malone’s potential S.T.A.R. Labs liaison, it’s evident that regular folk will serve a purpose in the coming rise of the Justice League.
Overall Synder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition) delivers on its much more “muscly” design and dictum, and the world that he’s creating is darker than any Christopher Nolan gave us with his Dark Knight Trilogy but perhaps it should have been released in its entirety and not waited for the Ultimate Edition to tell its story. This cut of BvS is truly much more epic in its scope, but that’s what audiences wanted all along — we expected that the meeting between these two minds would be bombastic. It’s still liking the substantive quality we would have liked, but that’s why we tune into The CW every week, where stories have time to develop in primetime.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition) would have been worth the ticket and extra large popcorn with a drink combo.