HERO COMPLEX

The director and stars of 'Batman v Superman' on what we can expect from the R-rated 'Ultimate Cut'

Say what you will about "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (and people have said plenty), at 2 hours and a 33 minutes — packing in three of the comic-book realm's biggest icons, a psychotic supervillain, a giant alien monster and more plot threads than you can shake a kryptonite-tipped spear at — the superhero smash-up is a lot of movie. And, like it or not, even more is coming soon.

Director Zack Snyder's R-rated "Ultimate Cut" of "Batman v Superman" is slated to arrive on home video in July, adding half an hour of previously unseen material that was presumably cut from the theatrical version, at least in part, so it could maintain a PG-13 rating.

So what can fans expect from that longer version? And what, in particular, will be included that would warrant an R-rating?

In a recent interview with The Times, Henry Cavill, sitting alongside co-star Ben Affleck and Snyder, offered a simple answer: "It's mostly full-frontal nudity that was cut out." Remember, for example, the bathtub scene with Superman and Lois Lane? "There's another reel of that," Affleck said.

OK that was a joke, but Snyder did acknowledge that at least some of the extra material in the "Ultimate Cut" pushes the boundaries of what the MPAA would have allowed in a PG-13 film.

"When you make a movie that’s PG-13, you’re in a little bit of a battle whenever there’s action in the movie," Snyder said. "Trust me, every movie that’s PG-13 went through a moment when it was rated R. It might have been brief, but it was like, 'Guys, it would be great if you could take out that one thing because it’s too much.' So you take it out. When you do the extended DVD, you get to put stuff back in."

For the most part, though, Snyder said the new material isn’t about goosing up the sex or violence as much as about pacing and adding a few extra shades to the story, comparing the "Batman v Superman" "Ultimate Cut" to director Peter Jackson’s extended versions of the "Lord of the Rings" films.

"I don’t think it’s about, 'Oh, there’s more violence or sexuality.' It just has more to do with the natural cadence of where you would cut or things you might stay on," Snyder said.

Speaking well before the film hit theaters, Snyder was wary of giving away details. But in recent weeks, we have gotten a few clues of what may be included in the longer version.

For starters, we will probably get to see actress Jena Malone’s still-mysterious role (rumored to be Commission Gordon’s daughter, Barbara, a.k.a. Batgirl) that was cut from the theatrical version.

Snyder has suggested we may also get a longer glimpse of the character of Daily Planet photographer and Superman friend Jimmy Olsen, who — spoiler alert — is unceremoniously dispatched early in the theatrical cut of the film without even being acknowledged by name, as originally revealed by Entertainment Weekly. 

And in a recent interview with The Times, Jeremy Irons, who plays Batman’s butler, Alfred, suggested there may be some more to his character’s story than we saw in the theatrical cut, hinting at Alfred’s past military training or a possible Secret Intelligence Service stint. 

Plus, there’s this deleted scene dropped only a few days after the feature film’s release, a practice usually reserved to drum up press for the DVD release. The clip is called "Communion" and features villain Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) meditating in a pool of Kryptonian goo, presumably communing with a horned figure. 

Perhaps this is the being Luthor was babbling about in his final scene? Comic fans are claiming it’s a vision of Darkseid, the eventual big bad the Justice League will have to face. Either way, it’s interesting to see the extended footage being released this early in the game. 

Contrary to what some in the comic-book blogosphere have suggested, Snyder insisted that the impetus to release an R-rated version of "Batman v Superman" had nothing to do with the huge box-office success of the raunchy, irreverent and ultraviolent "Deadpool."

"People are like, 'Oh, "Deadpool" is rated R, so you wanted to be rated R,' " Snyder said. "It’s not a conspiracy. We did this a long time ago."

He laughed. "I’m like, 'If we could react that fast to things, like, "Deadpool" would be in "Batman v Superman" because [Warner Bros.] would have made us put him in somehow.' It would have been 'Batman v Superman — And Maybe Deadpool Is In There Too.' "

Twitter: @joshrottenberg

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