There’s only so much you can accomplish in a half-hour. You can, say, watch a sitcom episode with commercial breaks. You can do some metabolic resistance training. You can whip up a decent black-bean-and-corn salad. Or, if you’re Zack Snyder, you can try to help viewers make sense of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The so-called “Ultimate Edition” of the much-maligned blockbuster was released yesterday, and it contains 30 minutes of new footage, including a (very brief) cameo from Jena Malone. Some of it clarifies previously confusing plot points, but a lot of it just provides information one could pretty easily infer. That said, there are some delightful — though not always intentionally delightful — additions to the brood-fest. Here’s a rundown of what got thrown into the sludgy mix.
One swear word.
Warner Bros. hyped the fact that the Ultimate Edition would have an R rating, prompting speculation about what could be so scandalous as to warrant that kind of branding. The answer is a single syllable: “Fuck.” When Scoot McNairy’s paraplegic Wayne Financial employee, Wally Keefe, comes home to find Lex Luthor in his apartment, he gets testy with the giggly supervillain and, in the original cut, asks him, “What do you want?” In the Ultimate Edition, that’s upgraded to “What the fuck do you want?” He gets one other slightly vulgar word, too, though not one that would merit an R: When he talks to Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch about how Superman ruined his life, he says he “can’t even piss standing up.”
Forensic scientist Jena Malone.
We’ve known for a while that the Hunger Games alum was going to be in the extended cut, but other than the fact that she’d be playing a character named Jenet Klyburn, we were short on details. As it turns out, Jenet is a scientist in Washington, D.C., one who appears for a grand total of 54 seconds across two scenes. First, she helps Lois Lane identify a bullet retrieved from the reporter’s skirmish in the fictional Saharan nation of Nairomi. Jenet calls the object an “odd little duck” and speculates that it might be experimental military technology. When Lois expresses shock that anyone would test out such rounds on live humans, Jenet grins and says, “And this is what makes you such a good reporter. Stuff like this still shocks you.” (Of course, we eventually learn the culprit wasn’t the government; it was Lex Luthor.) Later in the film, she calls Lois to say she did an analysis of the materials in Wally’s explosive wheelchair and found that it contained …
After Superman appears before a congressional subcommittee to talk about the Nairomi incident and Wally’s IED-chair kills every human inside, Supes wonders why he didn’t see the bomb. Now we know it’s because the vehicle was lined with lead, which the Man of Steel traditionally can’t see through.
Extremely boring intrigue, some of it grocery-related.
The main thing that gets beefed up in the Ultimate Edition is the already-too-long subplot in which the protagonists gradually figure out that Lex is behind all of the evil in the movie. In addition to Lois’s Jenet-aided forensics investigation, Clark Kent goes on a fact-finding expedition: He ferries across the Metropolis-Gotham bay to get the truth about the Nairomian woman who called Superman a murderer before Congress. To that end, he goes to her apartment building and meets an old African-American man (dubbed “Poet” in the captions), who tells him he should get out of the city before dark, because Batman is especially angry these days. Later, the woman gets murdered by Luthor’s lackeys after she tells Senator Finch that the sinister boy genius engineered the murders in Nairomi.
There are other assorted bits where Lois and Clark chase leads, and while these additions are mostly dull and obvious, they do include one laugh-out-loud moment: Lois goes to Wally’s apartment after the explosion, sees some fresh oranges and milk, and exclaims, to no one in particular, “He didn’t know he was gonna die — he just bought groceries!”
Jimmy Olsen and his bickering, drone-wielding CIA co-workers.
In the original cut, classic Superman pal Jimmy Olsen had an unnamed appearance as a CIA spook working undercover as Lois’s photographer in Nairomi. He got shot in the face. In this cut, he gets a few more seconds onscreen, during which he identifies himself as “Jimmy Olsen, photographer, obviously” to Lois, who was expecting a different shutterbug. After he gets his brains blown out and his tracking device is destroyed, some nearby CIA field agents argue with their Stateside bosses about what to do: The former want to ride out and see what happened; the latter want to call in a drone strike. The drone gets to the late Jimmy’s location first (the field agents flip it off as it flies past them), but before its missile can detonate, Superman soars in to destroy both missile and drone. The field agents only arrive in the area after Lex’s underlings have executed a plan to murder and burn everyone on the premises.
At the beginning of the museum-party scene in which Bruce Wayne talks to Wonder Woman alter ego Diana Prince, we see some caterers watching The Daily Show, back in its Jon Stewart days. Stewart riffs on Superman’s desire to not be seen as an American, wryly remarking that Supes’s patriotically colored costume kinda undercuts his case. “I assume the only reason he’s not wearing the Declaration of Independence as a cape is he thinks it’s too on-the-nose,” the host jokes. For some reason, it appears that there is no studio audience in this world’s version of The Daily Show.
A solid joke from Nancy Grace.
The original cut featured a bit where Nancy Grace rants about Superman on her show, but in the extended cut, we see her have some cross talk with a guest. He says, “You can’t point a finger and— ” but she interrupts him: “I’m not pointing anything, Warren!” she says, then holds up her hands. “Ten fingers, see?”
More Lex Luthor.
If you loved Jesse Eisenberg’s tic-filled turn as Superman’s arch-nemesis, you’re in luck, because there’s a fair deal more of it here. Warner had already revealed a deleted scene in which Lex communes with extraterrestrial villain (and future Justice League antagonist) Steppenwolf, so it’s not surprising that it shows up here. However, we also see little extensions to a few of his rants, none of them very interesting. For example, when Supes confronts him in the climax and tells him he’s going to lose, he replies, “I don’t know how to lose!” and starts babbling about how the Man of Steel’s greatest sin is existing. There is, however, a fun little add-on at the movie's end: When Batman confronts the imprisoned Lex, the crime-fighter tells the baddie that he's getting transferred to Arkham Asylum.
More Martha Kent.
Diane Lane is a treasure, so it’s nice she got more screen time in the Ultimate Edition, but all of it is pretty useless. Clark calls her to ask why his dad never left Kansas, for some reason; she watches the Batplane fly overhead after Batman rescues her; and after Clark’s funeral, she says she needs to get her checkbook to pay the funeral director, only to be told by a friend that an “anonymous donor” (hmmm, who’s rich and sympathetic?) already had it covered.
A lot of the additions lack any thematic significance and just serve as curiosities: A pair of Gotham City cops watch Metropolis trounce their home city in a football game on ESPN … Clark passes some Spanish-speaking natives on his way up a mountain to have a vision of his father … Alfred says, “So falls the house of Wayne” while watching Bruce walk away … Doomsday destroys things for a few extra seconds … Bruce downs some pills after waking up … A minister reads from Isaiah 26:19 at Clark’s funeral … A guy gets shanked in prison for having a Batman logo branded into his chest … Bruce tells Alfred he doesn't deserve him … A weaponized school bus appears in the Knightmare … A museum curator talks to Diana … The camera pans across an old Daily Planet headline reading, “KENNEDY DEAD” after Superman dies … Eh, if you're a completist, Screen Rant has a pretty comprehensive list of every single change.
The only one of these stray moments that’s really worth a damn is …
… Alfred chopping wood while wearing an ascot.
About midway through the movie, there’s a scenelet in which Batman’s loyal butler chops some wood on the Wayne estate, then brings it inside and sees news about the explosion in Congress. There’s absolutely no point to the footage, other than to show Jeremy Irons completely owning the character’s preposterous choice of outfit for the task:
Can we just have an additional half-hour of that?