Molly Jackson: Editing Strength!
I’ve beaten back the technological revolt happening in my apartment! It’s a time for celebration and joy. So two days ago, I saw the Batman Vs. Superman Ultimate Edition at a special event in theaters. On purpose. Seriously.
I purposefully dragged my fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo because I couldn’t suffer through it a second time alone. For the record, he agreed to go and then was confused as to why he agreed. Also, I purposefully did not tell Mike, our fearless editor, that we were doing this since he tried to talk us out of seeing it the first go-around. (I only wish I could see his face when he reads this.)
A little backstory, I hated it the first time. I remember stumbling out of the theater wondering how the studio executives could have let that happen. How? Why?! Still, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I wanted to see it again. Perhaps to reconcile the movie in my mind.
I feel obligated to say spoiler alert. So hey, if you keep reading, you may be spoiled on the Ultimate Edition. Just sayin’.
After the first time around, I remember thinking that script and direction were the biggest issues with the film. That hasn’t changed much but I did discover a bigger issue was editing the film. The first release cut out parts that made the film coherent. Whole explanations were removed, which contributed to a lot of the complaints. You don’t have to guess as much at the characters’ motivations or decision making. Some, but not all, plot holes are closed and the scene transitions are better for it.
About those critical scenes. There was a naked Bruce taking a shower. There were a few scenes showing Clark investigating Batman and his actions against the people of Gotham. He talked with mom and Bruce had a really nice extra few lines with Alfred (who also chops wood, because…). Those really helped flesh out small parts of the film, adding connections to disjointed scenes. Now, from what I remembered from the original release, it appeared that the most significant extra (a.k.a. deleted) scenes were female-led storylines.
I wish I was surprised, but I’m not. Why should companies focus on Lois Lane being a fearless investigator when Batman can have an extra-long fight scene with a truck? She spends a whole story arc to find the pathway to Lex’s maneuverings. We watch Lois push back against Perry White and Clark Kent in her desire to find the truth. She works with lab tech Jenet Klyburn (as played by Jena Malone in her unreleased role) to realize the metal bullet is experimental. She investigates the suicide bomber’s apartment, only to realize that he wasn’t planning on killing himself. And then she connects the pieces when she finds out from Jenet that the wheelchair was lined with lead. Look at the plot holes cleaned up with one paragraph.
The other storyline covered up was lead by Kahira Ziri, played by Wunmi Mosaku. Do you remember the woman who testified against Superman in the beginning of the film? She actually carries a storyline that humanizes Clark more while dehumizing Lex and still shows her finding her strength. She reveals to Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch that she was being threatened by Lex to denounce Superman. In the meantime, Clark tries to search her out and instead gets pointed towards the misdeeds of Batman. It added a crucial human connection to his story while showing a woman stand against corruption. All of this was cut, despite adding a compelling connection to multiple characters and storylines.
Upon seeing the Ultimate Edition, I realized that women were used to tie the story together completely but when it came down to a coherent story or a big fight scene, action won. And in a movie with two male leads, they will take center stage. Still, when your entire story movement hinges on women, maybe they should actually be included.
DC is trying with diversity, I won’t deny that. But for every male superhero, there is a traditional support system in place. For Batman, it’s Alfred. For Superman, it’s Lois Lane. But just like Alfred, Lois is a strong character independent of the hero. She has proven herself in the comics time and again, as a woman who doesn’t rely on a man to carry from place to place. Lois, as a realistic hero of the people, is a role model for girls and women everywhere. Sadly, she will never get her own solo film, so her chance to shine is in these films. Superman deserves a strong partner who can fight in her own way, not just at his side but on her own.
After seeing this, I still am not a fan of Batman v Superman. However, the extra scenes took the trainwreck of random scenes and made it a coherent, if not bad, story. With every successful superhero film, it works because the support characters are given the chance to develop and grow. Their story only serves to make the hero, and the film as a whole a triumph. Regulating the women to the DVD extras makes the story weak and the superhero star suffer because of it.