Today is the day Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice storms theaters across America. Whether you believe the early critical response or the early fan reaction, comic book fan and DC fanatics will be all over this movie. After all, it’s still Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor, among others, in the rumble which kick starts the DC Extended Universe.
Viewers should be prepared for quite the extended viewing experience, though. They’ll be strapped into their seats for two and a half hours of Batmobile, heat vision, Wonder Woman’s reduced but impressive powers, plenty of supervillain scheming, and Justice Leaguer primers. Yet, as the saying goes, ‘but wait, there’s more.’
Director Zack Snyder recently discussed his Ultimate “Director’s Cut” of Batman V Superman with Collider. Not just a dirtied up version of the film, his R-rated version (apparently cut before Deadpool made its splash, according to co-producer Deborah Snyder) will run a full half hour longer than the about-to-be-released film. Snyder even says the extended cut will include more characters such as the chopped Jena Malone part. Snyder delves into the meat of his expansive version:
“We call it the Ultimate Cut because to me it’s a deeper dive into that world and there are storylines in there that get fleshed out by the longer version… I would say that we didn’t really take out much of the Superman/Batman story because I felt like, you know that’s kind of the movie, but there was some sort of interstitial stuff that surrounds the story, that kind of finishes some of the ideas that we trimmed back, and I think that’s what you get.”
So what’s missing from the theatrical release versus the director’s cut? Snyder explains a little bit of what devotees that pick up the Blu-ray/DVD will experience. He says:
“There’s a little bit of action, there’s a little bit of violence that we trimmed out for the MPAA that we put back. The Batman warehouse rescue, there’s a couple shots of Doomsday that were too intense. Then there’s a little bit longer ending, sort of the ending sequence, and the opening of the movie, the North Africa sequence is really much different.”
Since initial complaints by critics have derided the film for its lack of time given to character development, Snyder feels that his longer, slightly more violent version will spend more time setting the mood, exploring the characters, and extending the falling action as well as the formation of the Justice League. Snyder illustrates upon the differences between the theatrical and director’s cuts by comparing them it to the different formats of his Watchmen movie:
“If you watch Watchmen on TNT or whatever, the TV cut, it’s the movie, it’s in there, if you watch it you’re like, ‘Oh okay, I get it,’ but all the edges get knocked off of it by the nature of putting something that’s kind of that rough on TV. In a weird way, the theatrical cut is a step up from that, and then the director’s cut [of Watchmen] is really where it’s at, in my opinion. With a movie like that where I was in a, I don’t wanna say I was in a battle with the studio but I was probably more headstrong on that movie because the material was so important to me.”
Making a movie on the scale of Batman V Superman, with the searing expectations of fans, critics, and the studio, is a true balancing act. Snyder, an admitted comic book fan, clearly tried to pack as much into the theatrical release as possible. Including everything he and the fans yearn for simply isn’t possible, as Snyder relates, “when you get over two and a half hours the studio starts getting nervous.” Much like with Watchmen, though, Snyder may have used a longer cut as a leverage point. Even if Warner Bros. balked at a long, R-rated theatrical release, announcing more in-depth version after Deadpool’s success was a smart move which likely will ratchet up home entertainment sales.
Aside from post-theatrical sales, though, Warner Bros. decision to proclaim an extended director’s cut before the theatrical release is a curious and slightly foreboding maneuver. Although Snyder doesn’t mention which cut he prefers, hopefully the missing footage doesn’t detract from the overall flow of the story (as some critics have suggested). Time will only tell, though, since opening weekend is upon us. Here’s hoping when Batman meets Superman, the results are nothing but epic.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.