[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and its Ultimate Edition.]
It usually takes months, if not years for a 'director's cut' to hit store shelves - and usually only with some urging from the vocal fans. But in the case of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, those looking to pick up the DC Extended Universe event movie to watch at home won't just be getting the movie seen in theaters - they'll be getting the longer, R-Rated version that director Zack Snyder intended. And there are already significant hopes and suspicions surrounding this 'Ultimate Edition.'
Different comic book movie fans will be picking up the Blu-ray (on July 19, 2016) or streaming the movie digitally (starting June 28, 2016) for a few different reasons. For some, the fact that Justice League has been somewhat revealed means the chance to spot any additional clues to the DCEU. For those who had issues with plot elements, character motivations, or Lex Luthor's 'master plan,' there's hope for scenes which clarify any or all. And for the fans of Snyder's vision for DC's 'Big Three,' any extra scenes or shots are just icing on the cake (not to mention the NEW Easter Eggs).
The 'Ultimate Edition' of Batman V Superman checks nearly all of those boxes (read our Batman V Superman Ultimate Edition reaction piece), and it's up to each individual viewer to determine if this really deserves to be the 'definitive version' of the movie, or if their issues remain. But for those whose memory is hazy, or who are simply curious to know what the 'Ultimate Edition' has changed, we've broken down every - yes, EVERY - difference between the theatrical version and this extended cut.
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS ahead in our look at Batman V Superman's Ultimate Edition: Every Change & Difference.
Martha Wayne's Fate
The opening title sequence was seen by some as completely unnecessary, since the origin story of Bruce Wayne is known by each and every comic book fan. On the other hands, Snyder's decision to faithfully recreate the entire scene and imagery as depicted in Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" - and depict the scene in darker-than-usual tone - showed why it was still worthwhile. Even if it did mean fans got a chance to see Thomas and Martha Wayne, as played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan, for little more than a few seconds.
The Ultimate Cut offers one more glimpse at Martha, and the first hint at some of the imagery Snyder had to remove to keep the R-Rating at bay. In the theatrical version, fans witness (in slow motion) the mugger's gun snagging Martha's pearls, a view down the barrel from her perspective, followed by the gun's hammer breaking the string. The Ultimate Cut adds a brief shot of the gun being leveled at Martha's face, aware of what's about to take place. It makes the gunshot which immediately follows even more graphic, and apparently was too explicit for the censors.
Wayne Tower Destruction
The rest of the prologue follows as it always has, jumping forward to the Battle of Metropolis - presented here as the day "The World is Introduced to The Superman." The car sequence and destruction of Wayne Tower happens as initially depicted, with no major changes, simply a clarification or partial explanation for a sequence that did make it into the theatrical version. When the building falls, filling the street with dust and smoke that Bruce must pick his way through, it isn't just a horse or businessman who stumbles past him, but what appears to be a grade school field trip. The string of children walk past, hand in hand, with a young teacher trying to keep them focused on getting to safety, calmly.
Once they pass, Bruce helps rescue Wallace Keefe (Scoot McNairy). He then spots a young girl about to be crushed by falling rubble. With the added shot of the field trip, we now know why the girl was left alone - and why her mother may have remained in the building behind them.
Jimmy & Lois in Nairomi, Africa
As Zack Snyder himself revealed, there really was a cameo by intrepid photojournalist and 'Superman's Pal' Jimmy Olsen. It wasn't the kind of cameo most would have hoped for, however, since it winds up with him getting a bullet in his head. Although the theatrical version simply jumps from the Pacific Ocean to Lois Lane in Nairomi, the Ultimate Cut begins earlier. Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy) introduces himself to Lois as the replacement for her usual photographer (who she preferred, since they talked less).
The duo are then approached by a vehicle of armed men - soldiers of the general she is there to meet - who remove their electronics (except for the approved camera). Canvas bags are then placed over their heads, and the next we see of them they have arrived at the general's base - where the next batch of differences begin.
The Nairomi Civil War
Here is where the biggest changes (and likely, the ones most criticized for being left out of the film) start to show - and they focus almost solely on Lois Lane's (Amy Adams) role in the story. As Lois sits down with 'The General' (Sammi Rotibi) dialogue delivered between the two of them both on and off-screen explains the political situation that has brought her to this place to begin with. And, just as the General claims in the theatrical cut (that "ignorance is not the same as innocence") his other claims carry the same thematic meaning for the larger story about to unfold.
The United States, we are told by Lois, has claimed a neutral stance on the civil war taking place in the country, on both diplomatic and ethical grounds. It's a claim that the General brushes aside, claiming them to be merely lies for the sake of appearances. As he understands the world, "men with power obey neither policy nor principle. No one is different, No one is neutral."
Aside from stating the moral difficulties in not choosing a side or trusting absolute power - relevant later - the General's comments and suspicions actually play a significant role in Lois' entire investigation. But again, their interview is cut short...
When Jimmy Olsen is revealed to be working with the CIA - now a far greater revelation, since American intelligence has now tracked the location of a rebel leader that the United States government has officially claimed to have no interest in - he meets an execution quickly. Before he does, he claims to the General that he has been authorized to offer "an arrangement" presumably on behalf of the U.S. government to halt his rebellion. In this light, the General isn't so easily seen as a murderous 'terrorist.'
Once Jimmy is killed, a command room back in America witnesses the act via satellite and contacts a team of operatives already located nearby. While the command is to stand down, since a drone strike has been authorized on the General's base - which will also kill Lois - the officer in the field rushes his men to her rescue. This is the scene featuring soldiers on horseback seen in trailers, and teased by actor Bailey Chase (playing the officer in question).
But before the men can reach the base, things heat up considerably.
Fire & Blood... A Lot More Blood
These changes you could basically describe as "more violence." In the theatrical cut, viewers watched as the General took Lois Lane into his underground base, while his armed soldiers remained on the surface. At a given signal, Anatoli Knyazev (Callan Mulvey) pulls out his pistol and kills two of the General's men, as his own men begin to take out the remainder (accidentally embedding one round in Lois' notebook). With the forces taken care of, the doors to the base are opened, and they make their escape on motorcycles.
In the Ultimate Cut, you actually see the first round fired by Knyazev, splattering the wall with blood behind the man. Additional shots show a rooftop gunner taken down with another cloud of blood, and a hand grenade being dropped into a tank (still visible in the background of the theatrical cut as they escape). The violence is by no means excessive, simply a bit more realistic - with censors feeling blood was better left off-screen. But the biggest addition for the sake of the plot - since this encounter will be misunderstood by the international community - is that the bodies are piled together in the base, and Knyazev lights up his flamethrower, torching them beyond recognition.
Aside from covering their tracks, this scene teases the return of said flamethrower later in the film. The theatrical cut caused some confusion, as the natives apparently assumed Superman shot these men - we now know they were burned to conceal the evidence. Not only that, but they are more clearly characterized as rebel fighters, not warlords. And believe us, it's not the only added insight into this subplot the Ultimate Cut brings.
As Knyazev's men make a speedy exit - knowing that Superman will be on his way soon, since Lois Lane is in harm's way - the troops being led to the location on horseback wind up late to the party, watching as the drone catches up, and passes them (with their leader, 'Python,' flipping it and the operators back home his middle finger). The drone sights its target, and fires... with a blu/red blur appearing to smash both the missile and the drone into pieces in a fiery explosion. Knyazev grins, knowing the final piece of this frame-up has been achieved with the Man of Steel's help.
From then one, the Ultimate Cut takes a somber turn, as the ground forces finally arrive at the base. The women of the village gather around them in tears, as they find one body after another, burned into piles of black ash. They find Lois (as she has now been rescued by Superman) as she walks out into the aftermath, gathering her notebook.
Metropolis State vs. Gotham City
Much was made of the football game filmed for Batman V Superman (before the film actually had an official title), with comic book fans speculating that the game could feature the first appearance of Vic Stone a.k.a. Cyborg (Ray Fisher) in his collegiate athlete days, before becoming a member of the Justice League. The scenes were nowhere to be found in the theatrical cut, but they appear as part of a cut scene in the Ultimate Edition.
This also marks the first case of Zack Snyder actually re-ordering the scenes of the movie. In the theatrical cut, the testimony being offered about the Africa incident (where Senator Finch is introduced) cuts immediately to Lois Lane's return home. In the Ultimate Cut, the next scene is actually the introduction of the Batman - beginning with the scene pictured above.
Two Gotham cops sit in their patrol car watching the game between Metropolis State and Gotham, caring more about the game than the "screams heard from abandoned building." When they finally answer the call, they do so with commentary from the game over top of them - and a clear look at how much Metropolis thrives, while Gotham struggles. Even up by a score of 58-0, Metropolis State goes for another touchdown - triggering a fight on the field, and a warning that "things could get ugly in the city tonight."
The scene shows that the Gotham police are less than dedicated to stopping crime in their city, and that the relationship between the bustling Metropolis and the down-on-its-luck Gotham extends to college football, too. But if you thought the fan service ended there, it doesn't. As the police officers peel out to the scene of the crime, we get a sweeping reveal of Gotham - more specifically, the Gotham Seaport.
First, the obvious: the billboard falling into disrepair (along with... pretty much everything around it) clues viewers in to the fact that the Gotham Seaport (later referred to as "the port of Gotham") is well and truly deserted, having been left to rot. That will come in handy later on when both the battles between Batman and Superman, and Doomsday are intentionally set in this area.
Finally, the easter eggs. The graffiti stating that "the end is nigh" may seem a bit too poetic for Gotham's slums, and with good reason: it's pulled directly from Alan Moore's "Watchmen" - written on a large sign carried by Rorschach (and faithfully adapted in Snyder's live-action film). Add in the classic "ACE Chemicals" sign as it appears in the Batman: Arkham game series as a nod to the Joker's birthplace, and you're all set.
Lois & Clark At Home (& In The Tub)
In the Ultimate Cut, it's only after the Batman introduction scene (appearing as it does in the theatrical) that we return to Lois Lane... returning to her apartment. The only additions to the scene are a moment when she is digging through her luggage. In the theatrical cut, she finds her notebook and the hunt for the mystery bullet begins. In the Ultimate Cut, she first finds the shirt she was wearing during the attack, still sporting blood stains. After taking a moment - and a swig of red wine - she comes across her notebook, and her clothing removal and bath continue.
The scene also ends differently this time around. Where it originally ended with Clark stepping into the tub, the removal of his glasses, and an added splash before a quick cut away, the R-Rated version continues the interaction between Lois and Clark. Nothing explicit follows, but after the glasses drop, Henry Cavill removes his shirt (cue the gasps), and the scene ends on Lois' hands pressing into his back. We would hope that this natural interaction isn't actually something that would pop up on the censors' radar, but considering that the glasses/splash is a creative cut, we'll simply move on.
The "Lex" in LexCorp
The introduction of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) appears mainly the same, with a basketball game turning to government introductions, followed by a crash course in Kryptonite. But there is one small addition which helps clear up the mystery surrounding Lex Luthor and his unique relationship with his father. When Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) and Senator Barrows (Dennis North) arrive, they refer to Lex as "the man on the marquee," assuming that the company - as it usually is in the comics - is named after himself. Lex corrects them, claiming that his father, Alexander Luthor, Sr. was "the Lex in front of the Corp."
In an added shot, Lex leads the visitors to his lab while informing them that his father actually spread the idea that the company was named for his son - an idea he came up with during pitches to investors. Taking money from "old ladies" who thought it cute that a man was building an empire for his son. It doesn't reveal too much, but plants the first seed that Lex's father wasn't exactly kind or honest towards his son - and judging by Lex's demeanor and reference to his father's "fist and abominations," it may not be the last time his son proved useful.
Also, while the theatrical cut saw the action jump from Lex's 'silver bullet' speech to Wallace Keefe's graffiti (and the response at the Daily Planet) and back to the infamous Jolly Rancher scene, the Ultimate Cut plays it out from beginning to end... since the scene which follows sends the story in a completely new direction.
Clark Catches Some Television
Now, we arrive at the next bit of creative editing... or rather, creative editing that Snyder had to turn to for the theatrical cut. The theatrical scene of Clark shirtless, cooking, and suddenly captivated by the television centered on a news story about Batman (his brand being something of a 'death sentence' in prison). It acts as the first introduction of Clark to Batman, and precedes Lex's debut. In the Ultimate Cut, Clark is going to have a completely new way in to 'the Bat vigilante,' so the same scene occurs as it was (presumably) intended originally. It's not a report on Batman, but an interview with Kahina Ziri (Wunmi Mosaku) - the other major character restored to importance in the Ultimate Cut.
In the theatrical cut, Kahina Ziri only appears giving testimony as part of Senator Finch's investigation. And thanks to the lack of expository scenes, many viewers failed to see how one woman, so clearly personally invested in the crisis, and so obviously believing faulty conclusions could actually matter. In this news report, she further emphasizes the government forces that came after the rebels had been revealed, and slaughtered the villagers. In the TV interview, she responds to the idea that Superman is a hero by asking "whose hero?" He saved Lois, but was nowhere to be found when the reprisals took the lives of her family.
Her final hope? "To look him in his eye and ask him how he decides which lives count, and which ones do not." Clark later claims that the Daily Planet's coverage determines who matters and who doesn't, and it's obviously here where he starts asking himself the same question.
Clark Kent Heads to Gotham
In the theatrical cut, Clark Kent comes to some strong words with his editor, Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) when he fails to cover the Sports beat - instead spending his time idly digging into Gotham's Bat vigilante. In the Ultimate Cut, the task (and his misused time) is spelled out a bit clearer... since, without the TV report, Clark has still yet to hear of Batman at all. Perry doesn't just tell Clark to cover the Gotham City football loss, but head across the harbor to Gotham and cover it in person. In a meaningful shot, a bright-eyed, optimistic Clark Kent boards the ferry across the harbor - sporting optimism that can only mean it's his first time actually taking in the city's way of life.
Once he arrives, Clark doesn't head to cover the game, but seeks out Kahina Ziri at her last known address. Her neighbors reveal that she's been gone for some time - and tell Clark that he should leave town before sundown too, if he knows what's good for him. Stay until the sun goes down, and he might "run into him."
At least, that's the warning offered by the man working on a scratchcard in the building's hallway. But as soon as the words of warning are out of his mouth, another tenant of the building pipes in, claiming that the only people who should be afraid of meeting this nameless man are those with a reason to fear him (implying she isn't included).
His interest obviously piqued, Clark inquires about the mystery man. He isn't given a name, but is told that the person is mean, angry, and hunting. And on that note, Clark is on to this beast-like vigilante. The movie follows the line, too: skipping right to Bruce Wayne at an underground fistfight, doing some hunting in his other suit.
The Magic Bullet
It's here that Lois returns, walking in as Clark tries (fruitlessly) to get Perry to let him cover Gotham's vigilante, with the crime lab having never seen a bullet like the one found in her notebook - a bullet that somehow found its way into a country in the midst of a civil war. In the theatrical cut, it's here where her investigation starts to make little sense: what does it matter what kind of bullet it is? What does this have to do with anything?
In the Ultimate Cut, when the audience has more information on the war between the General's rebels and the elected government, her story is more substantial. Her theory: that the United States is supplying weapons and ammunition to the rebels, while claiming to stay neutral, or in support of the government (continuing the idea put forth by the General himself). Again, we don't know where that path will lead her, but it's a worthwhile story to be chasing.
Clark Gets An Invite
Clark actually follows Lois out of that meeting in the extended version of the story, explaining why a superhero lets his girlfriend go digging into dangerous international conspiracies. His warnings are brushed off (since Lois was taking risks long before she met Clark), and Perry soon arrives with an assignment of his own. Ever wonder why Clark Kent ended up at a charity ball hosting some of Gotham and Metropolis' upper crust? It's on Perry's orders, since somebody on the committee personally requested that Clark Kent be there for the Planet. Perry might think it's "some old charity crone who's got a thing for nerds," but we know it's Lex Luthor pulling the strings...
"The Magical Thinking of Orphan Boys"
The scene between Lex and Senator Finch is fairly enigmatic in every form, but the Ultimate Cut adds one subtle note that should please those looking to see the villain humanized a bit more than in the theatrical cut. When informing Senator finch that he has left his father’s study in exactly the way he kept it, he concludes the monologue with a thought spoken out loud: “if I keep everything the same, maybe he’ll come back.” It’s not revolutionary, but there may be some viewers who didn’t make that connection – the one shared between the unknown father, and the son who seems to hate him, yet can’t totally let him go – so seeing it spelled out might help. Plus, it’s another reminder that as different as they may be, Bruce, Clark and Lex have all lost fathers that are still informing their lives and actions constantly. Perhaps a little too constantly.
Bruce Wayne, Pill-Popper
Here’s a confusing one for those who aren’t quite sure exactly what kinds of substance abuse is deemed ‘too adult’ for broad audiences. When Bruce Wayne awakens from a nightmare involving his mother’s burial plot, he finds himself in bed with a nameless, faceless woman. It’s not something fans of Batman are used to seeing on film, but it only makes sense for him to keep up appearances. When Bruce gets his bearings, he turns to a nearby bottle of wine to start his day. Medicating himself with alcohol is fine, but apparently, the mouthful of pills he originally took beforehand was only suitable for the Ultimate Cut. We can’t imagine anyone would take the combination of medication with alcohol as an actual recommendation, but whatever the explanation for the pills (we would assume painkillers), the entire bottle can still be seen on the bedside table in the theatrical version.
Look, do we know exactly why Bruce Wayne takes a shower before heading out to the charity event at Lex Luthor’s personal residence? Absolutely: fighting crime, bedding unknown women, and mixing pills with wine sounds like tiring, sweaty business. Do we know exactly why Zack Snyder decided it was worth seeing Ben Affleck, in the role, taking said shower? Of course not (aside from the obvious, since the actor put in considerable time to sport the physique he does). What we DO know is that people will have to stop criticizing the director’s decision to have Lois Lane appear almost nude in an intimate scene with Clark, since the Ultimate Cut shows Clark undressing to match, and it was apparently Snyder’s original intention to show Bruce Wayne even MORE exposed. He’s not exactly intimate, but considering Bruce Wayne’s personality in the film, stripping nude is probably the most vulnerable he’s been in years.
Clark Kent Phone Home
There’s one glimpse offered of Clark Kent in his everyday home life, unfortunately (for him) taking in some of the news reports concerning Superman’s place in the world as he enjoys his dinner. The theatrical cut sees him toss his napkin aside in frustration, but the Ultimate Cut shows the scene that immediately follows, beginning with a ringing telephone cuing a single light in the Kent farmhouse to turn on late at night. Martha Kent (Diana Lane) answers, with her son able to form a single word: "….Hi."
Aside from hinting that Clark has gotten a bit caught up in his work of late (what child hasn’t?), he also asks his mother what kept his father from ever leaving Kansas. Her reply confirms that Jonathan was merely a humble man more concerned with making a home than seeing the world. Clark longs to be that simple, but his mother reminds him that his story was complicated from the beginning. It’s not a major change to the story, but it’s nice to see Martha introduced before Clark physically returns home seeking advice. It also adds some context for the later scene when Jonathan (Kevin Costner) appears at the top of the world.
As further proof that you really can’t and shouldn’t believe most of the rumors you hear prior to a major comic book movie, actress Jena Malone does make and appearance in the Ultimate Cut. It’s a cameo, we suppose, but nowhere near the one that people immediately assumed when the past Snyder collaborator appeared on the film’s set. While Malone played a starring role in Sucker Punch, she plays a far less substantial one (read: absolutely not a Batgirl or Robin) here – though no less important. Malone plays 'Jenet Klyburn,' a lab tech that Lois Lane seeks out to carry out some analysis on that bullet fired in Nairomi.
It’s Jenet who discovers that it’s like no other metal she’s ever seen before – for the viewer who knows that the men firing the bullet now work for Lex Luthor, it isn’t hard to guess where he may have come across some never-before-seen-on-this-planet metals. When Lois can’t think of a reason why someone would craft bullets out of a mystery metal, Jenet suggests it may simply be a test, to see how they function in action against real human bodies. It’s a disturbing idea, but ultimately one that sends Lois in further search of the manufacturer – now established as one sick puppy who’s also keen on testing new (alien?) metals.
The Bat Brand
Clark has to find out about the mysterious 'Bat Brand' from somewhere, so a scene shows him researching the mark online, seeing evidence that the brand puts criminals "at risk." From there, the action jumps to a Metropolis prison, where the man seen earlier in the movie sporting the fresh brand – Cesar Santos (Sebastian Sozzi) – is actually shown being transported into custody. He urges the guards holding him that he can’t be put into general population, since it’s a death sentence. But they don’t care, claiming he’s lucky to have been transferred out of Gotham at all. It begins a much more clarified arc surrounding his character which was cut and replaced with updates given to Clark, stating explicitly what the brand usually causes. As he’s sent into the prison, the camera swivels over to Wallace O'Keefe being released on bail, as is shown in the theatrical cut of the movie.
It may be vulgar to call out the one time in a non-R-Rated movie that the filmmakers are allowed to drop the oft-searched-for ‘F bomb,’ but in this case, it’s delivered by the one man most worthy of some pent up anger. As Wallace Keefe returns to his meager apartment , he finally meets the man who, for reasons unknown, posted his bail: Lex Luthor. In the theatrical cut, he simply asks “who the hell are you” prompting Lex to gift him the wheelchair. A wheelchair, and a chance to let his grievances with Superman be known.
In the Ultimate Cut, Keefe’s a bit less patient, asking Lex the same question but following up by asking “what the f*** do you want.” The scene then jumps to Keefe in Senator Finch’s office, as in the theatrical cut. Instead of simply saying that he is now “half a man” and letting the audience (and Finch) deduce the rest, he goes on to explain that his wife has left him, and he “can’t even piss standing up.” Hard to say whether it was pacing issues, or the story getting a bit too grim were to blame for the edits, but they definitely match the more adult tone of the Ultimate Cut.
Judge, Jury & Executioner
Now we get the first scene in another completely scrapped story thread, showing explicitly how Lex Luthor was going about his master plan. Knowing now that Cesar Santos – the Bat-branded criminal who knew basically nothing about the larger ‘White Portuguese’ mystery – is incarcerated in a Metropolis prison, Knyazev is shown speaking with another inmate during a visit, making sure that he’ll “take care of it.”
We don’t really need to know what happens next, but we don’t have to wait long to find out, either. Santos is shown in the exercise yard, as the other inmate receives a shiv from a third, approaches him, and ends his life in a fairly reliable manner. The death of Santos is left to the background in the theatrical cut, with the TV news footage hinting at what will happen, and the photo sent to Clark (by Lex) merely confirming it. The benefits of seeing it here make Lex’s plan obvious, so combining that with the addition of a prison stabbing makes it easy to see why this one got cut to lower the rating.
Jon Stewart Cameo
In a story so heavily steeped in notions of celebrity and politics, it only seems right that Zack Snyder called on one of America’s most trusted political commentators: Jon Stewart, the now former host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. If it seems strange that Stewart should make an appearance in such a blockbuster comic book movie, then the context will likely explain his willingness to offer some input. The segment shown is recorded specifically for the film, with Stewart delivering a short monologue on the idea that Superman no longer wishes to be seen as simply an American hero – an idea that Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer spoke about publicly following Man of Steel.
Taking a few shots at Supes’ uniform as inherently American, it’s then revealed that the show is being watch by a member of an the serving staff working the museum event where Diana (Gal Gadot) and Bruce Wayne have their first scene together. It’s bittersweet, since Stewart’s time at the show has since ended, but the juxtaposition of the golden, champagne-drinking elite with the everyday people serving them plays well into the ‘who matters, and who doesn’t” themes of the movie.
Here's an interesting one. Picking up right where the previous scene ended, fans of the movie may remember the historical reference made in the museum scene, with an unknown curator(?) leading Diana to one of his prized relics: the sword of Alexander. More specifically, the sword that the man apparently actually believes cut the Gordian Knot. For those who may not know, we'll give a brief explanation here (since it's important to the scene's meaning).
In classical legend, Alexander the Great first encountered said knot when he entered Gordium (in modern day Turkey). As tradition held, the place had been named for a great king, Gordias, whose son Midas honored by tying his father's ox-cart to a post in the palace using an impenetrable knot. When Alexander arrived thousands of years later on his conquest of Asia, the knot and cart remained. Determined to prove himself the greatest ruler of all time, he simply sliced through the knot when he couldn't unravel it: showing his power through force, when intellect failed him.
In the Ultimate Cut, the scene between Diana and the curator begins earlier as he steals her away from a conversation, revealing that while some believe the above story a myth or work of fiction, he accepts it. Why? Because it's "perfectly in keeping with a king that is also a psychopathic killer." Since the movie's villain is also a brilliant leader bent on world domination, and willing to use somewhat "psychotic" methods when wit fails him, we're inclined to agree.
The Knightmare sequence was a hot topic of conversation even before the movie was released, and led to some confusion among some audience members who weren’t already familiar with the hints of Darkseid and Apokolips (or didn’t spot the evidence that the nightmare wasn’t a dream at all). The Ultimate Cut can’t really solve that problem, but it does include a few differences. For starters, the convoy seen traveling across the dried-up and Omega-emblazoned harbor between Gotham and Metropolis is shown entering the compound it ultimately winds up inside. The extended version also offers a shot or two of the men and women traveling inside the retrofitted school bus now resembling something out of Mad Max (the female soldier seen here looks to be the same one Bruce tries pulling to safety during his long fight sequence).
It may seem like a small change, but seeing the trucks arrive, and Batman march out of the compound to meet them drives home that these troops are trusted, and what’s about to unfold is truly a betrayal by his own men. It adds further weight to the soldier’s apology when the fake kryptonite is revealed, and in the end, just makes the sequence run smoother from beginning to end (but isn’t truly necessary).
Clark Hears The Truth
When Clark is informed of Cesar Santos' death in prison (the photos sent by Lex), he heads to Gotham to, once again, uncover details about the situation only to find the police less than cooperative. One cop claiming that the information isn't public knowledge could be understood, but the cartoon tapes to the desk shows the truth: a joke image of a masked criminal about to be struck by a police officer carrying a gigantic baseball bat (with the Batman logo on its end), and the caption 'BAT'er up!' Clark can only shake his head at the implied endorsement that Batman is carrying out the justice they would choose to, but another nearby cop shows they're not all in agreement - giving a nod towards the deceased's girlfriend and son leaving the station.
Clark tries to find out what he can, but the woman just states what we now know: the guards know that the mark means death, and they don't care. And as bad as Cesar Santos was, he was also a father, and deserved more than an execution. Clark tries to change it through honorable, professional means, but the woman states a fact that Clark clearly keeps in his head: "words don't stop" the man who determined his fate... only "a fist." Keep that in mind later, when Clark relies on force, not an argument to get Batman (in his mind, a murderer) to yield.
Mercy & Lex Share a Moment
Another case of subtlety being the first casualty of a theatrical cut, here. The massive Batmobile chase actually remains the same, but once the kryptonite arrives at LexCorp, there’s one significant difference/ In the theatrical cut, Lex opens the case to see his face lit with green light, as the Senator’s voiceover cues the cut. In the Ultimate version, Lex opening up the case and looking on his prize doesn’t end the scene. Mercy Graves (Tao Okamoto) is standing nearby, and approaches the case to see for herself.
Looking at the item that he’s been trying to attain – with her assisting him at every step along the way – she looks at Lex with a clear gaze of excitement. It’s a look that has an effect on him, since he clearly feels something towards her (if literally anyone in the world), and the moment is an interesting one. It may hint at more beneath the surface for Lex, but in the end, it adds more weight to his betrayal; apparently deciding that his connection to Mercy is something that must also be shed.
The Truth Comes Out
Now we arrive at what it probably the culmination of the Lex Luthor/Nairomi storyline, left mainly to the imagination and detective work of the audience in the theatrical cut. We see Kahina Ziri returning home to the apartment that, as we learned when Clark paid a visit, she hasn't frequented in some time. But just as she's about to step off her bus, she notices Knyazev speaking with the scratchcard neighbor. Clearly aware that something is up, she heads to Senator Finch's office to come clean: Lex Luthor threatened her life, paid her, and provided a script for her to deliver to the hearings into the Nairomi incident indicting Superman.
While the theatrical cut keeps her testimony understandably vague or misleading (any international incident is reported any number of different ways until an 'official' chain of events is decided upon), the Ultimate Cut simply makes it a neater explanation: Ziri's testimony made Superman look bad because Lex Luthor wrote it. And just like Wallace Keefe, it's all part of Lex's plan to get Superman to the Senate, the nation suspecting he may not be the perfect god so many assume him to be.
Tying Up Loose Ends
We briefly jump to Lois Lane in her third meeting with Secretary Swanwick (Harry Lennix), being told that it is an American supplying weapons to the Nairomi rebels - but not the governmen trying to fuel civil war. It's a private contractor under Lex Luthor, supplying the men and ammunition to the region to, we might deduce, draw Lois Lane to the region... with her boyfriend close behind. Learning that Lex Luthor is behind the bullet (a fact that would never have been found unless someone knew to look for it, and aggressively investigated on their own - with a high-ranking friend willing to dig where they shouldn't). As Lois heads to the Senate, she ascends from a subway station as Kahina Ziri descends past her. Lois notices Kahina... but not Knyazev following close behind her.
Not long after, Kahina's train arrives - and Lex's lead henchman makes sure she gets closer to it than she ever intended, trying up one last loose end. At the same time, Senator Finch informs her colleague of Kahina's story, and how her parents are alive back home but being threatened by Luthor. Her claim that Luthor has turned these investigations into another one of his puppets is cut short by Lex himself - just minutes before Senator Finch realizes how many Lex is willing to hurt to get his way.
The theatrical cut of the movie doesn't dwell on the aftermath of the wheelchair bombing, showing Superman in tears as the dead burn around him, before heading elsewhere to focus on Bruce Wayne's reaction. In the Ultimate Cut, Snyder continues the emphasis on the human cost of the story, as Superman helps some wounded out of the wreckage, and takes in the many wounded and dead in the wake of the attack. After surveying the scene as Lois looks on, he heads into the sky to consider what has transpired. For Lois, she knows it's a sign of how hurt he is, and is heading off to come to terms with what he's witnessed (and been unable to stop). For the media which covers the event soon after, Superman's speedy, unexplained exit from the scene is referred to as one suggestion that his role in the event is unclear, since he's obviously acting out of the ordinary.
Alfred Chops Wood & Exposition
Great news for those who thought Alfred (Jeremy Irons) could have used a bit more screen time, or thought the silver fox could still get some pulses racing. That's right, a full blown wood chopping scene that could make Iron Man and Captain America sweat (probably not, but maybe). After gathering the wood and carrying it into Bruce Wayne's lakeside residence, Alfred finds that his master is nowhere to be found. What he does find is for the audience's benefit. He stumbles upon the same returned disability payments that Wallace Keefe (actually, Lex Luthor) returned with angry messages scrawled across them.
It was these messages Bruce Wayne was reading before the bombing (and the infamous "you let your family die" newspaper clipping). But Alfred also finds what appears to be the final message. It's only visible for a moment, but the drawing of the Capitol building exploding an engulfed in flames is easy to make out. It's not needed to know what Bruce has deduced, but the added guilt of knowing that the bomber warned Bruce of the explosion, and blamed him for it probably helps to understand how desperate and angry he has become.
Attack on LexCorp
Lex once again returns to his corporate headquarters to find it destroyed from an armed assault. As shell casings litter the floor, we don't skip directly to the kryptonite's former resting place. This time, Lex walks by one security guard being carted away on a gurney - showing Batman isn't picking his targets as carefully anymore - before taking in a security monitor. The footage shows a hallway in the building occupied by two patroling security guards, before the unmistakable silhouette of Batman descend rapidly from the ceiling, engulfs the guard is his cape, and flies back up out of frame. It's a great moment of fan service, since it's the kind of terrifying attack that fans usually hold their breath in anticipation of, but apparently Snyder needed every second he could spare, and cut it for theaters.
Clark Climbs a Mountain
The same "spare any second" thinking obviously shows as America turns against Superman in the fallout of the Capitol bombing. In the theatrical cut, there's only a single shot of news footage showing a mob burning the Man of steel in effigy. In the Ultimate Cut, more time is spent, showing as people from all walks of life, including one of the neighbors Clark visited in his hunt for Kahina Ziri watching the footage live (a good sign that not everyone has turned against him, but also amplifies the magnitude of the problem facing Clark).
It's a point driven home as he begins his walk up an unknown mountain, with a group of inhabitants informing him that the mountain is impassable. Ignoring them, the only conclusion offered by one older man is that "he's come to die." That may not be entirely true, but the scene that follows with Clark sharing a moment with his dead father couldn't have come at a better time. And, building off the earlier scene with Ma Kent, things have never been less simple for Clark.
Lois Cracks The Case
While the FBI is putting their valuable time to use investigating what connection, if any, Superman had to the bombing of the United States Capitol Building, the larger plan executed by Lex Luthor finally starts coming together, with the billionaire atop his massive Metropolis tower watching the sunset. But Lois, trusting her instincts, knows that something has been missed and heads to Keefe’s apartment to find it herself. After getting an eyeful of Keefe’s… eclectic design sense, she realizes the fresh fruit and fridge full of food mean the bomber had no idea he was going to die, and sets out to find an answer.
Along the way, she’s contacted by Jenet Klyburn, informing Lois that the wheelchair Keefe took into the hearing wasn’t just made from the same metal as the bullets (apparently Lex is really into this new, supposedly untraceable metal), but was lined with lead. Superman couldn’t have seen the bomb, and couldn’t have prevented it exploding, but the belief that he could have was obviously intended to further distance himself from… well, everyone.
"So Falls The House of Wayne"
Another truly puzzling one here, and it was teased in the trailer for the Ultimate Edition Blu-ray release. Those who saw the teaser video may have assumed that Alfred’s chilling proclamation – “so falls the House of Wayne” – was part of a larger scene dealing with Bruce’s legacy, or inviting further arguments between Bruce at the end of his rope and the trusted servant who can’t watch him stray any farther from the course he originally plotted. But they would be wrong. The line is actually delivered as a button to the scene between the two men, when Bruce reveals that the origins of the Wayne family were as “hunters” (before setting off to hunt a Kryptonian, himself). Instead of simply ending on Bruce walking out into the evening, the scene returns to Alfred so he can deliver the line. That’s literally the only difference, so we’re curious to know why Snyder thought it wasn’t a proper fit for the theatrical cut.
Lois Gets Kidnapped
This change is a little unclear as to whether its removal was due to running time, or actually showing content the censors would prefer left implied. When Lois Lane descends an escalator – the new arbiter of impending doom, going by the Ultimate Cut’s additions – she catches a glimpse of a familiar man buffing the floors. When she inquires, the man turns, revealing himself to be Anatoli Knyazev – showing a brief smirk as Lois obviously recognizes that she had seen him before in Nairomi, and the scene ends. At least, it does in the theatrical cut. In the Ultimate, Lois is actually shown being grabbed by the looming man coming down the escalator behind her, snapping a hand over her mouth, and carrying her out a nearby door into a waiting van. Again: not a big change, simply another case of the theatrical version cutting some corners (where nobody would mind).
Martha Held Hostage
The changes seem to be getting smaller and smaller as the movie builds toward its climactic fight sequences, and this one is no different. When Lex Luthor lays out the ground rules for his Superman trap – he must kill Batman within the hour, or his mother will be killed at an unknown location – the story flips over to Knyazev keeping Martha Kent company in the warehouse Batman will later visit (dismantle). The ticking clock remains the same, but the Ultimate Cut takes a bit longer to get there, following Knyazev out of the elevator, through the larger space of the warehouse, and into the adjoining office where Martha is being kept. It doesn’t affect the setup, and it’s uneventful enough to be cut without much resistance. But it does let the audience get a visual idea of the space, so when Batman arrives later, the action tracks a bit clearer.
There’s a very good chance that fans hoped for one thing above all else with the Ultimate Cut: more action. It’s a bit of a good news/bad news situation there, since the budget spent on making the action as big and explosive as it was almost all wound up on screen… meaning there’s little new action sequences or moments to speak of. When Batman and Superman square off, for instance, the normal sequence of pushing Batman, then flying up and slamming him through a building onto its roof is augmented with the addition of yet another push before taking flight.
Once Batman has weakened the Man of Steel with a kryptonite gas grenade, and crushed him down through a skylight, the Dark Knight lands a few more punches than normal directly on Supes’ jaw before his invulnerability returns. Other than that, the fight appears in the theatrical version just the way Snyder wanted it.
"I Don't Deserve You, Alfred"
Nobody would need to know why the combination of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Jeremy Irons’ Alfred Pennyworth is a bromance for the ages. For starters, one would be hard pressed to find another duo so capable of an all-star brood-off. Their dynamic is on full display when Bruce commits to finding and rescuing Martha Kent, and returning to his Batwing. Alfred chimes in before Bruce can even make a request, claiming he was listening in so as to get a headstart, and already has Martha’s location.
That’s where the exchange ends in the theatrical cut, but to the inevitable delight of fans, the Ultimate Cut continues with Bruce informing his butler that “I don’t deserve you, Alfred.” It’s a nice moment that, aside from getting a smile from Batman fans, actually shows that Bruce has realized how wrong he has been – only to find Alfred still there at his side. Still, Alfred gets the last word, agreeing that he really doesn’t.
The Warehouse Fight
Thankfully, the gritty, grimy, and all-around brutal fight sequence between Batman and Lex’s goons does feature a few new shots or modifications in the R-Rated cut. None of them go so far as to warrant the rating on their own, but will be appreciated by older action fans all the same. For starters, there’s the wooden crate that Batman attaches to his grapple gun only to fling it overhead into a group of waiting henchmen. Upon impact, one of the men is thrown back hard against the brick wall – in the Ultimate Cut, leaving a long blood smear from the point of impact to the back of his head crumpled on the floor. Not really excessive, but an easy cut to make all the same.
The one carries the most meaning is the beat which comes after Batman has been stabbed, returned the favor, pinning the stabber to the wall with his own blade, and smashing his partner into—sorry, through the wall. In the Ultimate Cut, the knife wound isn’t forgiven so quickly: Batman eyes up the pinned thug, slowly paces over, and… well, you can’t really make anything out except the sudden impact and scream of pain it brings with it. Bruce is really not in a good mood.
Lex Will Learn
As brilliant and years-in-the-making as his plan may be, Lex Luthor is forced to realize that all his efforts have been for naught. The egg time dings, Superman arrives, and the expected phone call isn’t a confirmation of Martha Kent’s murder, but a brief word from Batman. Superman then conjures up a truly clever line (“you lost”) which Lex can’t really accept, claiming that the Bat has been given his chance, but more extreme measures are called for. In the Ultimate Cut, the Judeo-Christian allegories surrounding Lex continue, and the subtle efforts to show him as a flawed, human person. His immediate rebuttal that he “doesn’t know how to lose” is likely more revealing than he intends – if blunt – but it’s his next line that’s more interesting.
Eyeing Superman up and down, and laughing off the Man of Steel’s statement that Lex “will learn,” he claims that he doesn’t hate the sinner, only the sin. In the case of Superman, his sin is simply existing, therefore he cannot let this hero win. It’s an interesting detail, since it shows that Lex doesn’t actually have anything personal against Superman (or so he claims) but what he represents, or what his victory would represent to Lex’s entrenched rationalization of the world (a world he’s forced to make sense, something he would have in common with Bruce Wayne).
The Batwing Goodbye
This one may not be the most shocking or unexpected change to the Ultimate Cut, but it’s definitely the most adorable. In the theatrical version of the movie, Batman and Martha Kent share a memorable moment when the latter saves the former from a fiery end; Batman explaining that he’s a friend of Martha’s son, and her “figuring.” But what happens to her next is never explicitly shown. In the Ultimate Cut, as Doomsday is looming over Metropolis from the top of LexCorp Tower (with an added action beat, throwing the ‘X’ at a nearby chopper), the film returns to police officers reporting to the warehouse to greet Martha. Just as they meet, the Batwing fires up from one side, and takes off overhead. As the police follow it, dumbstruck, Martha shows some Smallville manners by giving the Dark Knight a wave of gratitude as he heads off into the fight.
By now, anyone following the DCEU or Justice League series knows that the most discussed deleted scene was also the one which seemed to have the best chance of making the film even after it was cut (in the form of a post-credits teaser). Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case… but the scene teased too much for Zack Snyder to keep it from fans, leading the studio to actually release the clip online not long after release. The infamous “Communion” scene returns to the Ultimate Cut following the death of Superman.
Providing a tease of the real villain of the story, the scene returns to Lex, following him from the pool of blood (and impromptu communication with Steppenwolf, general of Darkseid) to his prison haircut. As important as the scene may be for the future of the franchise, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t break the somber tone of the film following Superman’s sacrifice, but since you can’t really put it before that moment, it isn’t hard to spot why it wound up on its own.
A City in Mourning
There were few who criticized the actual cinematography of the movie’s closing scenes, centering on both the State funeral put on for Superman (with an empty coffin) and Clark Kent’s burial back at home, and the Ultimate Cut simply shows more of the sequence. After Perry White pulls out the copy of the Daily Planet stating that Superman has died, a series of slow shots reveal Metropolis completely empty. Its businesses, streets, and even the offices of the Planet sit vacant (since every citizen is apparently attending the ceremony).
Paired with Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel score, it’s a sequence that may belong in a longer, more leisurely and indulgent version of the movie, and the funeral scenes didn’t really need any further elaboration. Still, they’re memorable shots, so fans will certainly want to seek them out (and keep your eyes peeled for the very real landmarks used, as well).
The Kent Farm/Funerals
In terms of a single sequence of the movie, the funeral scene(s) are likely the most padded in the Ultimate Cut (or most stripped-down, if you prefer to think of it that way). The American flag being folded is presented to Swanwick, a touching if intriguing choice. Meanwhile at the Kent farm, other Man of Steel faces return to pay their respects to Clark: there's Pete Ross, current manager of the Smallville IHOP (who also informs us that the entire funeral was paid for by an anonymous donor), and the priest leading the proceedings is the same one Clark sought out for advice before surrendering.
But it may be the wealth of casseroles placed on the Kent family dinner table that most drives home the point that while Superman was a citizen of the world, Clark Kent was raised a Kansas farmboy, and died as the same.
Lex Luthor may have been incarcerated following his mass destruction of Metropolis, Gotham, and countless other crimes, but even in jail, he's not safe from the Batman. This time around, Batman still shows up threatening to brand the villain, promising to keep an eye on him no matter where he may hide - but Lex Luthor reveals that he knows it's Bruce Wayne beneath the mask. Not that anyone would believe him, since Lex has been deemed "insane" and unfit to stand trial. Although Lex delivers that fact with a smirk, assuming he has beat the system once again, and is destined for a cushy mental facility, Batman breaks the bad news: he's headed to Arkham Asylum. A far darker, more dangerous facility in Gotham where the Bat can keep closer tabs on his new nemesis.
Those are all the changes, tweaks, and edits we could spot in the Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman, but if you can think of any that we've missed, make sure to let us know. Also, leave your pick for the best (or worst?) change in the comments below.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and its Ultimate Edition are available digitally today, June 28, 2016, with a Blu-ray release coming July 19, 2016.