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A little over three months after hitting theaters, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice arrived on home media yesterday, but it wasn't just the theatrical cut that was made available to fans. As announced months ago, there was also an extended, R-rated version released, dubbed the "Ultimate Edition." This is director Zack Snyder's preferred version, adding 30 extra minutes of content and more intense violence. It's no secret that the theatrical cut wasn't received well by a lot of fans and critics, but the Ultimate Edition aims to improve the story's reputation by providing a better overall narrative.
Three hours is definitely a long movie runtime, but in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's case, the extended cut definitely fulfills the promise of providing more material that wasn't shown in theaters. While there are a lot of minor additions or alterations scattered throughout, here are the biggest changes that the Ultimate Edition featured.
It goes without saying, but there will be full spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - The Ultimate Edition from this point forward.
A Longer And More Cohesive Africa Sequence
The biggest and most appreciated change in the Ultimate Edition is that the Africa sequence makes way more sense. In the theatrical cut, Superman shows up to rescue Lois from the Nairobi rebel general, and then we cut back to America, where Superman has been blamed for slaughtering innocents near the base. Unfortunately, there were a lot of pieces that didn't connect properly, but these extra minutes fix that. It turns out that general and his forces were waging a civil war against the Nairobi government, one which the United States had taken a neutral stance on. Jimmy Olsen (who is actually named this time around) was sent to negotiate an "arrangement," but his offer is refused. U.S. command then launches a drone strike at the base (at the protest of the officer in the field), but Superman destroys it before it hits.
However, before the Man of Steel arrived, Anatoli Knyazev and his men not only killed the other terrorists and nearby innocents, but also used a flamethrower to cover their tracks and make it look like Superman killed them with his heat vision. That's why Superman was blamed and why the Senate hearings began so quickly. We also later learn that Kahina, the Nairomi woman who testified before Senator Finch, was actually threatened and paid off by Lex Luthor to speak out against Superman, but she was later "taken care of" by Anatoli.
Clark Kent Investigating In Gotham City
Before battling Batman directly, Superman opted to take on the Caped Crusader as Clark Kent, Daily Planet journalist. In the Ultimate Edition, we actually see him learning more about the vigilante from citizens rather than just from afar. Sent to Gotham City by Perry White to cover their football team's loss, Clark instead seeks out Kahina at her apartment building, but she's been gone for some time. An elderly man then tells Clark he'd be wise to leave the city before dark, otherwise he might run into "him," a.k.a. Batman. Another neighbor tells him that the only people who should be afraid of Batman are those who have a reason to fear him. This gives moviegoers a much clearer reason for why Clark sets his sights on Batman, learning from others what kind of a brutal man he is.
Sorry, folks, Jena Malone wasn't playing Barbara Gordon or Carrie Kelley in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As we learned from a leak several weeks ago, she was actually Jenet Klyburn, a lab technician who analyzes the mysterious bullet that Lois brought back from Africa. She's the one who learns that it's made from a never-before-seen metal, and later in the movie, she calls Lois to tell her that Wallace Keefe's wheelchair was made from the same metal (There was another interesting tidbit she provided, which we'll get to later.) In the comics, Jenet is a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist, but she's such a minor character that you probably shouldn't get your hopes up about her having an expanded role in the DCEU, let alone appearing again.
Added Story For The Bat-Brand Victim
Remember Cesar Santos? The criminal near the beginning of the movie who Batman branded? Well, there was a lot more to his story in the Ultimate Edition. We already knew that the Bat-Brand was a death sentence if you're caught with one in prison, but that also makes it a suitable cover for pulling off a sinister assassination. Anatoli is seen paying off one of Cesar's fellow inmates, and later, that same man stabs Cesar to death during recreation time. Like in the theatrical movie, Clark is sent pictures of Cesar (by Lex Luthor), but this time, one of the photos is of his corpse. Clark then goes to Gotham City to learn about Cesar's death, and while the police aren't being cooperative, he comes across Cesar's girlfriend and son. She tells him that the police know the brand means eventual murder, but they won't do anything about it. Clark wants to help by telling her story via The Daily Planet, but she retorts that a pen won't stop Batman, only a fist. This helps clear up why Superman was willing to switch from words to force during their later battle.
Fallout From The Capitol Bombing
After the bomb in Wallace Keefe's wheelchair detonated, Superman was shown standing as the only survivor from the center, devastated that he didn't see the attack coming. The Ultimate Edition then switches to the aftermath around the perimeter of the Capitol, where the wounded are being attended to and body bags are spread out. Superman helps out as best he can by flying victims to the paramedics, but at this point, there's not much he can do. Still reeling from these events and horrified by the loss of life, he flies off, leading the media to question whether his exit means that he had some kind of connection to the bombing.
Lois Lane Putting The Pieces Together
If you love seeing Lois Lane at her investigative finest, this is the scene for you. While the police are searching for clues about how Superman might have been tied to the bombing, Lois is able to get into Wallace Shawn's apartment, an active crime scene. There are plenty of bomb making materials around, but there are still a few things that aren't making sense to Lois. She then opens up Wallace's refrigerator and sees it's stocked with fresh groceries. Since a man who's about to commit suicide has no need to buy a lot of food before his death, this reveals that Wallace wasn't as much of a willing participant as the theatrical version implied. He didn't detonate the bomb himself; Lex Luthor (or one of his goons) did. Lois later gets a call from Jenet Klyburn, who tells her that Wallace's wheelchair was lined with lead, the only material that Superman's X-ray vision can't see through. That's why the Man of Steel wasn't able to prevent the bombing. He didn't even know a bomb was there, but regardless, his reputation has still been damaged.
Unlike the other reincorporated scenes, this one isn't new. On the Monday after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released in theaters, Warner Bros posted the scene on YouTube. For those who need a refresher, this showed a SWAT team searching for Lex Luthor aboard the Kryptonian ship. They soon find him communicating with a monstrous alien via hologram, who dissipates when the officers arrive. We've since learned that this was Steppenwolf, who will be the main antagonist in Justice League next year. This scene clears up where Lex learned about the being he was babbling about in prison. He was communicating with Steppenwolf, presumably learning about the Mother Boxes (judging by the three holographic cubes) and Steppenwolf's plans to invade our world. Lex has also been confirmed to return for Justice League, so perhaps Steppenwolf will seek him out when he arrives to Earth. As for what Lex will be up to in the meantime...
Lex Luthor's Transfer
You probably noticed how Jesse Eisenberg's version of Lex Luthor was way more eccentric and unhinged than he usually is in the comics and other media, but this personality change bites him in the ass by the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - The Ultimate Edition. In this version, when Batman threatens Lex in prison, he reveals that he knows that Bruce Wayne is the Caped Crusader. However, no one will believe him if he says that because he's insane. Whether he's truly crazy or it's just an excuse from his attorneys, he's evidently been found not fit to stand trial. Unfortunately for Lex, that doesn't mean he's getting a pass on punishment. While Batman admits that there are mental hospitals that treat their patients with compassion, he tells Lex that he's arranged for him to be transferred to Arkham Asylum. As Batman fans know, this is where the majority of Batman's villains are sent after being captured. Not only is it notoriously easy to escape, but it is truly one of the most frightening locations in the DC universe, as the worst of the worst can dish out their crazy to the employees and visitors. If Lex ends up there, he is not in for a comfortable stay.