Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s theatrical cut is a mess. It doesn’t even make coherent sense. The R-Rated cut does make sense, and improves the film, but doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Warner Brothers put too much into a film that only needed Batman and Superman. They begin it beautifully. They pull an absolute masterstroke by taking one of the biggest criticisms of Man of Steel (the mass collateral damage during the film’s climactic battle between Superman and Zod), and placing Bruce Wayne right in the middle of it. He watches as the fight between the Kryptonians claims the Metropolis branch of Wayne Enterprises and holds a new orphan in his arms as he balefully glares up at what caused all of it. THAT WAS ALL THEY NEEDED.
They didn’t need Wonder Woman. They didn’t need all the set up for six DCEU films, some of which may never happen. They didn’t need Lex Luthor. The first time Batman and Superman appeared onscreen together in a live-action film; it should have been about the journey to friendship between two heroes who fight the same battle from two sides of the same coin. This is a veteran Batman and a fairly rookie Superman. The kind of uncontrolled power and resultant destruction in Man of Steel combined with it being made very personal, would be all Bruce ever needed to go after Superman. He didn’t need to be manipulated into it by a gibbering idiot Lex Luthor. They didn’t need to take Henry Cavill’s endearing Superman and make him an inflexible ass. This should have been a clash of ideals, which we got a little of, but it wasn’t in any way the movie’s central line.
They could have still found a way to make Zod into Doomsday without Luthor and used that as the fulcrum to make each other see the good men they both are as they battle something bigger than either of them. They didn’t need to realize their mothers have the same first name to snap themselves into cooperation. This movie needed to be stripped down, not laden with baggage. Let the two greatest comic book heroes of all-time just battle it out over how they keep their cities safe until they realize the common ground that leads to one of the best friendships in comics. THIS scene sets up that movie and Affleck plays it so well. I want to see THAT film. I wish I’d seen that film.