Without question, Zack Snyder's three-hour cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is superior to the theatrical cut, and makes for a far better viewing experience. It's not that Snyder trimmed fat to get his Ultimate Edition down to a manageable theatrical run time. He sacrificed longer versions of key scenes and deleted significant character development that helped clarify key issues in the story, overall. The Ultimate Edition of Dawn of Justice puts that stuff back in, where it belongs, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the plotting and evil machinations of Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg.
Lex Luthor was completely underdeveloped in the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We knew that he was pulling strings behind the scenes to manipulate the public against Superman (Henry Cavill), an alien who Lex doesn't trust. But the Ultimate Edition goes to the right lengths to show just how encompassing Lex's grand scheme really was, and too many of the scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor worked as explanations to how Luthor was moving his chess pieces around the board.
Our own Adam Holmes broke down every change that Snyder made to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the Ultimate Edition. This, specifically, is a discussion of the ways that Lex was enhanced, showing that he was manipulating: 1) Bruce Wayne into distrusting Superman; 2) Clark Kent into despising the vigilante known as The Batman; 3) Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) into suspecting Superman of wrongdoing; and 4) Lois Lane (Amy Adams) into missing the most obvious clues until all of it was too late.
There's a secondary character who receives a lot more screen time in the Ultimate Edition, and through him, it expands Lex Luthor's role in the grand scheme of Dawn of Justice. Anatoli Knyazev, as played by Callan Mulvey, is spotted on the ground in Africa during the lengthy opening sequence, showing how Lex moved things around to help set up Superman for his involvement in the terrorist attack. Knyazev also makes sure that Cesar Santos (Sebastian Sozzi), the criminal branded by the Batman and sent to prison, dies there... so that Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) continues to investigate Bruce Wayne.
There are also little segments of longer scenes that help explore how much Luthor is involved. There are photos of the dead Santos sent to Kent at the Daily Planet (with the words "Judge," "Jury" and "Executioner" written on them, to stir Kent's pot). There's a longer scene, before the controversial Capitol Building bombing, where Finch starts to piece together how Luthor is the one pulling her strings. And there's the scene, mentioned by Adam, where Lois finally pins everything on Lex. These would have been GREAT additions to the theatrical cut, so Lex's convoluted plot would have made more sense, overall.
Lex Luthor will get more opportunities in the DC Extended Universe. There's a new scene in the Ultimate Edition that clarifies that Batman has sent him to Arkham, so we might even se him at play in Suicide Squad in August. But there's no question this pivotal DC villain was shortchanged by the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and his vicious machinations were restored in the Ultimate Cut... reason enough to watch!
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