It’s no secret that an overwhelming majority found Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice disappointing or worse. Since its debut in cinemas, the social forums went ablaze with audiences tearing the film apart, its avid supporters sending death threats, and Warner Brothers doing their best to put out the fires, biding time and hoping that the situation would blow over. That wouldn’t turn out to be the case as, despite having a strong opening weekend, its box office takings dropped by a massive 69% the following weekend and the movie became a super-rich flop by barely reaching $900 million. It may have united the World’s Finest, but it completely divided everyone else.
The fact of the matter is that what we got, in its theatrical state, was just an average movie that got a lot right yet got so much wrong with a hell of a lot of missed or wasted opportunities. In the areas of performances, action, cinematography, VFX work, and music, it succeeded with flying colours. However, the movie just got sorely bogged down by its joyless tone, contrived character motivations, multitudes of plot holes and idiotic lapses in logic, Superman being turned into a plot device in order to glorify Batman, Jesse Eisenberg’s terrible interpretation of Lex Luthor (who should’ve been called Lunatic Larry!), and shoehorning in the Doomsday storyline for no reason at all. It started out phenomenally thanks to its bravura opening 10 minutes that really packed an emotional punch, but even though the movie occasionally reached those levels (maybe three or four times), these were simply just far and few between as a result of its convoluted narrative. It genuinely felt as though you were watching five different movies at the same time without any clear connection or fluid segue, which just made a lot of scenes feel disjointed or out of place.
Before and after the movie came out, there was a lot of hype and speculation surrounding the 3-hour ‘Ultimate Edition’, which was designed to flesh out the story more and add much deeper context to proceedings. It also got people thinking in their minds if it was the studio that mucked up the flow of the film in post-production and therefore ruined Zack Snyder’s vision. Truthfully, the Ultimate Edition does provide a somewhat better experience, however, it still doesn’t correct all the crucial fundamental flaws the movie still suffers from. Some plot holes and contrivances still remain intact, Lex Luthor is still poorly represented with his plan still being convoluted, and the storyline surrounding Doomsday still feels forced. Yet, it does provide more context surrounding the confrontation between Batman and Superman with Clark Kent being an actual reporter and investigating Batman, plus Superman gets more emotional depth here than he did in the Theatrical Cut. The Africa sequence gets fleshed out more, as does the fallout with the African woman testifying against Superman (or is she?), and Luthor’s plan gets a bit more context to it, although that’s not saying much.
In the end, the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman is the only recommendable way to watch this movie in order to gain a better experience, yet it still can’t disguise the fact that this film is just a case of Snyder, DC Films and Warner Bros. cramming in everything and blowing their load early as a means of getting the forthcoming Justice League movie out the door quickly in order to compete with Marvel Studios, which they shouldn’t have to. These characters are so iconic and have resonated with audiences worldwide for decades, so this movie should’ve been so much more than what we’ve received and the fact that it’s only okay makes it even more disappointing. Hell, the fact that this movie was delayed by nearly a year and the end result, regardless of the Ultimate Edition, is still the best they could achieve is baffling to this day. However, with DC Films recently going through a major shakeup behind the scenes, perhaps a brighter future is in store. After all, the night is darkest before the dawn…
Special Features: Eleven featurettes
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (ULTIMATE EDITION) / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: ZACK SNYDER / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS TERRIO, DAVID S. GOYER / STARRING: BEN AFFLECK, HENRY CAVILL, GAL GADOT, JESSE EISENBERG, AMY ADAMS, JEREMY IRONS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW