As one of the world's foremost Zack Snyder apologists, it pained me to give a Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice a negative review. Unlike many of the Snyder-haters out there, I actually like his vision for the DC universe. I think it's interesting to imagine what would happen if an invulnerable man fell from the sky and was introduced to the world by destroying a small part of it in a fight with a similarly powered individual. Would people hail him as Superman? Or would they fear him as the superman?
Let's be honest: They'd fear him! This is why the best part of the film revolves around Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) watching in horror as Superman v Zod plays out in Metropolis. It's a bravura sequence, the best short film about 9/11 anyone has ever made. You see a man—arguably one of the most powerful men in the world, a billionaire Olympic-caliber athlete who spends his evenings beating the snot out of criminals to soothe his own psychological traumas—realize that his world is not his anymore. He is literally standing in the ruins of his empire, the cracked Wayne Enterprises sign just behind him, holding a young child whose mother has just been killed, trying to shield her from harm, knowing that he can't. And you understand why he would want to put a leash on this alien newcomer.
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All of this is to say that I prefer Snyder's so-called "D.C. Cinematic Murderverse" to the previous onscreen iterations of Superman. It feels more real than the Reeve version, more interested in thinking about the psychological impact of Superman on the masses and their champions.
That's why it was frustrating that Dawn of Justice felt so slipshod in certain regards. Lex's plan at the Capitol, for instance, didn't make much sense. Nor did the public's reaction to Superman in the aftermath of the bombing. Nor did Holly Hunter's senator from Kentucky.
I'm pleased to say that the "Ultimate Edition" of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice fixes a lot of these problems.* There's more connective tissue and the film gives Lois Lane (Amy Adams) something to do: namely, unravel Lex's plot. I also appreciate the fact that, in this version, the whole Middle East sequence near the beginning of the film is stretched out a bit—we learn that the government was planning on drone-striking the compound Lois was in, which adds a bit of depth to the ideological struggle between Senator Finch (Hunter) and Superman. It's not a question of whether or not international interventions should occur, but how, and under whose authority, and using what tools. Should we put (Big Blue) boots on the ground, or kill from afar and hope we don't take out too many civilians?
The flick still has issues—"muh, muh, Martha" and the in-movie trailers for the rest of the DC Cinematic Murderverse chief among them; and I still think it would've been wiser to hold this movie until after the Wonder Woman flick drops—but Dawn of Justice is vastly improved in this iteration. So much so that I'm almost surprised the studio released the shortened version. I understand that three hours is a lot to ask of people, but still. You can't rush excellence.
*This is what I watched last night instead of the Republican National Convention. I have no regrets whatsoever.