Why The Batman V Superman Theatrical Release Was Trimmed Down

Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has finally been released nationwide, but not all of of the movie’s scenes will be seen in theaters. Last month, it was announced that an R-rated "Ultimate Edition" will be available on home media later this year. While keeping the blockbuster at a PG-13 rating is obviously important for drawing as wide an audience as possible, it turns out the primary reason director Zack Snyder excised them was due to time issues

When asked by Collider why these scenes were cut in the first place, Snyder said that they were in the feature until "very recently," but it boiled down to not wanting the movie to hit the three-hour mark. As he put it:

It was really just a function of time, to be honest. Because the movie’s long now, long-ish—I don’t think it’s long, but when you get over two and a half hours, the studio starts getting nervous. I’m not James Cameron, who’s like ‘No it’s three hours, suck it!’ Which is cool, by the way. I just wanted to try and get it to a length that is workable.

The theatrical cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has a 151-minute runtime, and had those other scenes been left in, it’s possible the three hour version might have turned some people off from going the the theater to experience it. Snyder took a similar approach with 2009’s Watchmen, starting with the Director’s Cut and later releasing the "Ultimate Cut," which incorporated the "Tales of the Black Freighter" animated movie into the Director’s Cut and took its runtime to 215 minutes. 

While the decision to keep Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at a little over two and a half hours probably was wise in terms of pacing and keeping that PG-13 rating, one wonders if keeping those scenes in the movie might have improved the story for the critics and fans who haven’t cared for it so far. There have been complaints that the story felt bloated, and while adding more scenes usually doesn’t help with such a problem, perhaps those other scenes may have helped the narrative flow better. I guess we’ll find out when the "Ultimate Edition" arrives in the near future.

Aside from the more intense action sequences, the "Ultimate Edition" of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will also feature several players who were left out of the theatrical cut, including Jena Malone’s mysterious character. Although Snyder and Warner Bros have yet to reveal who the actress is playing, a leaked survey from Warner Bros listed her as Barbara Gordon. Despite only being the second entry in the DC Extended Universe, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice laid the groundwork for many of the movies over the next couple years, including Justice League: Part One, and the "Ultimate Edition" will have even more set-up and Easter Eggs.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in theaters, and if you’ve already seen it, head over to our spoiler-filled discussion section to share your opinions on it.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.