Being a hardcore movie fan often means imagining what might have been. If only they’d used the original script. If only they’d had a bigger budget. If only they hadn’t fired the original director. If only they’d kept those deleted scenes.
Scenes get chopped for reasons ranging from “wrong tone” to “movie’s too long.” A lot of times, nobody misses them. If they’d kept the deleted scene of Young Hal Jordan and Young Carol Ferris at the start of Green Lantern, it wouldn’t matter much; it still would be an epic fail of a superhero film. Other films, like Wonder Woman, have no deleted scenes worth mentioning (or at least, none that were made public). Other times, deleted scenes really could have added to the movie. These are the sequences that fill in backstory, foreshadow later plot developments, or are just plain awesome.
Fifty years ago, no matter how awesome these trimmed sequences were, nobody could have seen them, or even known about them. What landed on the cutting-room floor stayed on the cutting-room floor. Nowadays, though, deleted scenes are a staple of DVD extras, not to mention a popular presence on YouTube.
What follows are fifteen deleted scenes from movies based on DC Comics. All of them bring something to the table, which is not to say it was a mistake to cut them — when a movie’s too long, it’s too long — but we would have liked to have seen them find their way into their films nonetheless.
15. Lego Batman – No dog escapes the Dark Knight
The LEGO-verse Batman is a delightfully parodic version that takes the 21st century Caped Crusader’s arrogance, obsessiveness and paranoid nature and pushes it all a little bit further over the top. One of the deleted scenes in the LEGO Batman Movie is a textbook example, as the Dark Knight Detective goes all out to stop a dog running around without a leash.
In the deleted scene, the Batcomputer informs Batman that Gotham is almost 100 percent crime free, but the remaining .00003 percent crime rate still bugs him. To get a perfect score, he hunts down Lollipop, the dog so blatantly violating the city’s leash laws. The Bat’s determination to take down Gotham’s last scofflaw leaves a train of destruction in his wake before he captures the mutt. It’s LEGO Batman at his craziest.
14. Suicide Squad – Harley chooses bros before psychos
Given how much the advance PR for Suicide Squad played up Jared Leto’s role as the Joker, a lot of viewers expected a major presence for the Clown Prince of Crime. Suffice to say, they were disappointed. A lot of the character’s scenes wound up getting cut, to the point that Leto himself has joked that they could have made an entire Joker movie out of his missing scenes.
One sequence that got the axe took place during the Squad’s final battle against the Enchantress. The Joker, who almost helped Harley escape from the Squad earlier in the movie, returns and offers her another shot. This time, though, she chooses the good bad guys she’s bonded with over the bad bad guy she’s in love with. A pissed-off Joker departs, tossing a smoke grenade behind him to mask his getaway. It’s a good demonstration of Harley’s character arc.
13. Batman v Superman – Hello, Steppenwolf!
The “communion” scene from Batman v Superman hit YouTube right after the movie opened. According to director Zach Snyder, it was the studio’s decision, not some random leak. The scene takes place in the birthing matrix that creates Doomsday, and it shows Lex Luthor apparently communicating with something nonhuman and bizarre, which then vanishes. No explanation of who/what it was is provided.
The entity is Steppenwolf, an agent of the planet Apokalips who’s set to be the big bad of the upcoming Justice League movie. Snyder said Warner Bros. had discussed using some sort of post-credit scene teasing Justice League, but felt that would look like knocking off Marvel. Releasing it online gave them a post-credits scene without actually putting it in the credits, so they could feel a little bit original. The scene’s absence does leave a Lex-sized gap in the theatrical cut’s third act, however.
12. Red 2 – Is that a grenade behind your back or are you just glad to see me?
Red started out as a miniseries from DC-owned Wildstorm about a retired spy whose superiors target him for death. In 2010, a much more lighthearted take on Red hit the big screen, replacing the lone spy with a trio of retired assassins (Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich) marked for execution. It did well enough that the trio returned for Red 2 in 2013.
As the tough-as-nails Victoria, Helen Mirren has a great deleted scene in the sequel. When she has to enter a high security area, she doesn’t waste any time sneaking in. Instead, she pulls the pin on a grenade, approaches a guard, then pushes him against the wall with the grenade pressed behind his back. He stays still, he lives; he moves, he goes boom. It’s quite cool. Well, if you’re not the guard.
11. Superman – Feed the babies
It’s safe to say that 1978’s Superman didn’t suffer from losing any of its cut scenes. Christopher Reeve’s debut was a smash hit, and remains one of the most popular screen depictions of the Man of Steel. But that’s not to say that some of the deleted scenes wouldn’t have been fun.
Two deleted scenes focus on Luthor’s “babies” — unidentified, unseen carnivores that terrify Luthor’s henchman Otis (Ned Beatty). In the first scene, Otis lowers what looks like half a cow into a pit filled with the snarling predators, who devour it with gusto. In the second, Otis is ordered to do the same with Luthor’s mistress (Valerie Perrine). Fortunately, Superman appears at the last minute and snatches her to safety.
10: Batman Forever – Two-Face Is Loose!
Even a half-dozen brilliant deleted scenes probably wouldn’t make Batman Forever good. Then again, they couldn’t hurt. After Tim Burton contributed two dark movies to the franchise, the third film in the series swung back toward camp. The deleted opening sequence is a lot darker, which probably why it got axed.
The sequence has Arkham Asylum’s Dr. Burton (a hat tip to Tim Burton) heading down the asylum’s sinister corridors to Two-Face’s cell to check on his patient. Instead, he finds the outside wall shattered, the guard tied up, and Two-Face loose. To make his agenda clear, he leaves a parting message on the wall: “The bat must die.”
9. Man of Steel – Not your ordinary orphan
The trials of raising a superbaby were a staple of Superman lore in the Silver Age, but that part of Clark’s life has been largely ignored in the movies. It did, however, play a role in a deleted scene from Man of Steel.
Soon after adopting the infant Kal-El, Martha and Jonathan Kent take their new baby boy in for a pediatric checkup. The doctor tests Clark’s hearing by bombarding it with sound, unaware that with Clark’s super-hearing, the sounds are a painful assault on the boy’s senses. Like any hurt child, he reacts by screaming; being a superbaby, his scream shatters the windows.
8. The Dark Knight Rises – The adventures of young Bane
When Chuck Dixon created Bane in the comics, he gave the villain a big enough backstory to establish him as a man worthy of defeating the Bat. When Bane appears in The Dark Knight Rises, his history plays a role, but we don’t see it in as much detail. Some of the deleted scenes from the movie would have expanded on Bane’s past. Of course, in the movie, he’s more the front man for Talia al Ghul than anything else, so his own origins may have simply seemed less important.
As described by the film’s costume designer, Lindy Hemming, the flashback scenes would have shown Bane years earlier: taunted, fighting back, chained down, beaten. Hemming said her costume design drew on the idea that Bane’s serious injuries required a costume that supported his battered body, and the backstory scenes would have helped make that clear.
7. A History of Violence – I dream of Videodrome
A History of Violence was a 1997 graphic novel from DC’s short-lived Paradox imprint that was adapted into a noir-ish drama in 2005. Viggo Mortensen plays Tom, a small-town diner owner hiding his past as a violent criminal. Too bad for Tom, his old nemesis Fogarty (Ed Harris) shows up to settle scores.
The unused “scene 44” was a dream sequence graphically representing Tom’s fears. Fogarty threatens to kill Tom’s wife and kids. Tom strikes first, shooting Fogarty. When he checks out the corpse, though, the mobster raises a gun and shoots Tom dead.
Mortensen suggested to director David Cronenberg that they get weirder and have Fogarty pull the gun from inside his chest. Cronenberg thought that seemed too close to a scene from his earlier film Videodrome, and nixed the idea. Subsequently, the whole scene ended up getting nixed.
6. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – Death by tombstone
A theatrical release in the Batman: The Animated Adventures universe, Mask of the Phantasm showed how Bruce Wayne made the leap from wannabe vigilante to Dark Knight, and how a threat born out of that period returns to Gotham. It’s far and away one of the best Batman movies to date.
Tombstones are a running motif in the film. Bruce, for example, has an emotional breakdown in front of his parents’ tombstone when he contemplates abandoning his crusade because he’s fallen in love (“I never expected to be happy.”). Having one of several deaths in the series take place when a hood has a tombstone dropped on him has a certain appropriateness. According to director Bruce Timm, however, “appropriate” wasn’t as important to Warner Brothers as their sense that the scene was too gruesome to keep, so the scene got axed.
5. Suicide Squad – Harley’s wild ride
Another one of those leftover Joker scenes from Suicide Squad flashes back to when Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) was still psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel. When she discovers the Joker abandoning her to drive off, Harley swipes a motorcycle, catches up, and confronts her dream man. Why won’t he accept her? Hasn’t she proven her loves enough?
The Joker replies that “I am not somebody who is loved.” He’s a master criminal who makes master plans, and Harley isn’t in any of them. After she shoots a trucker demanding they get off the road, the Joker triple-dog dares her to shoot him, but she can’t bring herself to do it. He snatches the gun away, sneering that if she wasn’t so crazy, he’d think she was insane. It was an interesting chunk of backstory for the pair, even if it wasn’t necessarily essential to the plot.
4. Superman Returns – Visit to a dead planet
The set-up of Superman Returns is, logically, enough, that Superman returns after several years away, long enough that even Lois thinks he’s abandoned Earth. Viewers didn’t see anything of what the Man of Steel did while he was gone, but the original opening sequence would have changed that.
Traveling light-years in a crystal spaceship (it’s the same Kryptonian crystal-tech as the Fortress of Solitude), Superman arrives where Krypton used to be. He finds a huge chunk of rock carved with his S symbol and a shitton of kryptonite. Apparently, Superman never thought to prepare lead shielding, so he doubles over in pain, but he manages to give the “find Earth” command to the ship before passing out.
3. Constantine – The bad girl who wasn’t there
Cut or not, at least Jared Leto’s Joker was still in the movie. As John Constantine’s half-demon lover Elle, Michelle Monaghan‘s every scene was axed from Constantine. Nothing personal — it’s just that cutting out the title character’s satanic snugglebunny made him look lonelier.
In one deleted scene, Constantine admits to Elle he has terminal lung cancer. She’s less than sympathetic, informing John that after all the defeats he’s handled the forces of Hell, Lucifer will torture his soul until the end of time. Heck, he’s the only soul left that Lucifer considers worth collecting in person
It’s a fun scene that also sets up the climax. Realizing he can’t stop a renegade demon/angel alliance from ending the world, Constantine kills himself. Sure enough, Lucifer arrives to collect. But then John spells out what’s going down, and the Lord of Hell does what John couldn’t — save the world.
2. Watchmen – Hollis Mason dies
If they’d kept Hollis Mason’s death scene in Watchmen, it’s unlikely anyone who hates the film (and there are many who do) would have changed their minds. That said, when judged on its own merits, the sequence is quite moving.
When a street gang learns Nite Owl has broken Rorschach out of prison, they assume it’s the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason, rather than Nite Owl II. Cut to Hollis talking on the phone to the original Silk Spectre and reminiscing about their time with the original Minutemen. The call ends, with the two seniors in a happy, nostalgic mood. Next thing you know, the thugs burst in to work out the Rohrshach issues. Hollis puts up a good fight, but he’s old and alone, and they’re young and many. Hollis goes down.
1. Return of the Joker – Tim Drake, Bat-Murderer
Batman Beyond saw an aged Bruce Wayne take on a new protege who becomes Batman with the help of a special high-tech suit. In the direct-to-DVD Return of the Joker, we learn what happened to Tim Drake, one of the Caped Crusader’s previous trainees — and it wasn’t good.
In the film as released, the Joker has tortured and brainwashed Robin into giving up Batman’s identity and becoming a Joker Jr. The clown orders his new acolyte to kill the battered Batman. When Tim refuses, a disgruntled Joker moves to do it, slips, and electrocutes himself. Tim breaks down completely.
As originally shot, Tim does shoot — but instead of doing his master’s bidding, he regains enough self-control to shoot the Joker instead. It’s a stronger, darker scene with more bite, but the higher-ups thought a child committing murder would not go over well.
Got any more deleted scenes worth keeping? Mention them in comments!
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