When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released to digital platforms today, fans around the world got their first look at the "Ultimate Cut," an R-rated version of the movie that ran half an hour longer than the theatrical cut and restored a good deal of material left on the cutting room floor the first time around.
The master plan Lex Luthor put into motion in the film was a long game that relied on a million things going right -- or at least that's how it seemed in the theatrical cut of the movie. In the Ultimate Cut of the film, one of the major things restored is a look at how all the pieces moved in Luthor's plan.
Without going into just a long list of spoilers and explanations, we got a sense for what Anatoli Knyazev's role in the whole thing was. We learned who the confidential informant was who told General Swanwick about Lex's mercenaries in Africa. We learned more about what happened there -- why people might have found Superman responsible for the deaths of the men in Nairomi and how it came to be that Congress got a hearing together so quickly.
None of these things were, strictly speaking, necessary to understanding the plot of Batman v Superman, I would argue -- at least I felt that I understood it full well without them when I saw it in theaters -- but it's absolutely a clearer and more coherent film with all of the added-in information.
We also learned that Lex took steps to make sure Superman couldn't see the bomb by lining the wheelchair with lead, and we saw Superman saving people at the Capitol, and offering help to the police and firemen there after the explosion, making him a more heroic figure and making his abrupt flight from the scene less confusing.
But beyond little things like giving Lois and Clark some more time to look like good reporters, and making Superman look a bit more heroic, the biggest thing that the Ultimate Cut does is explain so much more of what Lex was up to the whole time. The filmmakers likely felt it was alright to cut because this way, you kind of see the "strings," but the reality is a lot of it isn't strings: it's connective tissue, and re-establishing it helps make the plan feel "real" and less like Lex just lucked into a series of incredibly fortuitous events.
Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.