[Warning: SPOILERS for the Batman V Superman Ultimate Cut ahead.]
Ever since it was announced that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice would get an R-rated "Ultimate Cut" for home video release, the main question has been what additional material it would contain in the half-hour of extra footage that will make up its extended three-hour runtime. Director Zack Snyder has offered a few details, commenting that it is a "deeper dive into that world, and there are storylines in there that get fleshed out by the longer version."
What exactly those storylines are has not yet been made clear, although Snyder did say that the Ultimate Cut will include more characters, such as the oft-discussed Jena Malone scenes that did not make the theatrical cut. Now, however, additional details have leaked about the cut that aren't just hints of what audiences can expect, but full-on spoilers.
The spoilers come courtesy of CBM, who got a look at the extended cut when it leaked online via a couple of VOD platforms. For those who want to approach the Ultimate Cut spoiler-free, now's the time to stop reading. For everyone else, there are quite a few details to take in, including how Lex Luthor framed Superman, what role Jena Malone is playing, additional background on the Senate hearing, where Lex Luthor is heading after the conclusion of Batman V Superman, and some additional heroics from Superman.
First off, there is the question of how Lex Luthor framed Superman for the killing of terrorists, which wasn't particularly well explained in the theatrical cut. CBM has an explanation for that:
"For starters, Anatoli Knyazev/KGBeast actually burns the bodies to make it look like the hero wiped the men out with his heat vision. Secondly, the villager who testified about his actions to that senate committee is revealed to be an actress hired by Luthor, and she's later murdered by his men after having a change of heart and telling Senator Finch the truth. This version of the movie makes it clear that Lex has orchestrated everything we're seeing, whereas the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman arguably played out more like a series of coincidences in the villain's favour."
The overuse of coincidence to drive a plot can often work against a movie, so the additional explanation from the Ultimate Cut helps a bit in that regard. In addition, there is more explanation of Luthor's plot regarding the Senate hearing. While the theatrical cut makes it look like the wheelchair-bound Wallace Keefe was a willing suicide bomber, the Ultimate Cut makes it clear that Luthor framed him as well and planted the bomb without his knowledge. As to the question of why Superman was unable to see the bomb, it is made clear that it was because it was encased in lead. Lois is able to figure out that Keefe didn't intend the suicide bombing when she visits his apartment and sees some groceries he intended to use, which is obviously not the behavior of someone who intended to die. Luther completed his frame-up, though, by planting bomb-making materials and anti-Superman graffiti.
For those hoping that the rumors of Jimmy Olsen's demise weren't true, unfortunately it appears they are. According to CBM, the Ultimate Cut makes it clear as day that the photographer outed as a CIA agent really was Jimmy Olsen. The movie might make up for that if Jena Malone's character ended up being someone interesting to fill the Jimmy Olsen void, but that is also not the case. Instead, Malone plays the relatively mundane role of a S.T.A.R. Laboratories employee who provides information to Lois Lane about the bullet she found in the desert.
For those who despise Lex Luthor even more after the additional information revealed in the Ultimate Cut, there is one bit of potential good news: where he is heading afterward. According to CBM, the extended version of the end-of-movie confrontation with Luthor has him revealing that he knows Batman's secret identity, and also taunting him that he is too insane to stand trial. His gloating is short-lived, though, as Batman reveals that he has made arrangements for Luthor to be hauled away to Arkham Asylum, which is not exactly a luxury vacation.
Finally, one thematic issue that is addressed is the common complaint that the Superman of Batman V Superman just does not seem very heroic. Some additional footage from the Ultimate Cut has Superman flying victims out of the wreckage of the Senate explosion rather than just looking morose about it. There is also more time devoted to his alter ego Clark Kent's investigation of Batman, showing that Superman/Kent was growing not just as a superhero, but as a journalist as well. Additional footage from his funeral brings back Pete Ross and Lana Lang from the Daily Planet, and mention is even made that Bruce Wayne paid for the service. In other words, Superman did not go out without making some friends along the way.
Some of these additions help explain why the movie's cinematographer Larry Fong praised the Ultimate Cut after a rewatch, despite his original comments that it wouldn't change anyone's mind about the movie. Some plot points are clarified that needed clarification, and some additional light is shed on Superman's character. Add in some more action and some more screen time for Batman and Alfred, and fans may very well may be pleased by the final result even if they were left cold by the theatrical cut. No doubt Warner Bros. hopes that is the case as they attempt to recover from the movie's lower-than-expected profits so far.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s “Ultimate Edition” will become available on Digital HD on June 28th, 2016 and Blu-ray on July 19th, 2016.
Suicide Squad will hit theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.