Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice commits countless crimes, but none worse than its 151 minute running time. Having to endure the other problems for that long is inexcusable, it’s too much damn time. And while I could’ve left at any given moment, I didn’t. It was a Monday in downtown Toronto, what was I gonna do? Fly to Ibiza and just dance it out?
The simple act of watching BvS is a lesson in looking where things could be cut, of which there are many. But here are some simple cuts that could’ve been made to make BvS more palatable, or at least way, way shorter. With these, you could bring the movie down to an almost-bearable 40 minutes and change.
1. Jokes About the Upcoming Fight
Time wasted: 5 minutes
"Don't pick a fight with this guy!" Yuk, yuk, yuk!
There is a sound we all know and almost all hate, and it’s one of the best ways to know if something has completely failed. It’s the sound of uncomfortable shuffling and silence. If you went and saw BvS, you heard that awful sound every time a joke was made about the upcoming fight. It happened at least a half dozen times and it was uncomfortable, like that annoying relative who tells a joke and says, “Did you hear what I said?” Except this is, y’know, apparently made by professionals and not a family member who’s had enough beer to think they’re clever.
New running length: 146 minutes
2. Dream Sequences
Time wasted: 30 minutes
Dream sequences need to be subject to stricter regulations. Directors wanting to do them should have to pass a test or get some sort of certification first since Hollywood is filled with people that suck at using dreams. If we had such regulation, BvS would be at least a half hour shorter. None of the many dream sequences, and dream sequences within dream sequences, are essential to the film. They’re universally silly, pointless time sinks. Sure, they got to make for some cool trailer footage, but Batman hallucinating himself in a trench coat is an assault on multiple senses. And where the hell did those bug people come from? Was there a sale on John Carter stock footage during production?
New running length: 116 minutes
3. Nods to Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns
Time wasted: indeterminable, but let’s just say 15 minutes.
Snyder and screenwriter Goyer worship at the temples of Watchmen and TDKR, which makes them about as relevant as Youngbloods, WildC.A.T.S. and almost every other mid-nineties forgettable Dark Age comic. Sure, there are a couple of “I see what you did there” moments, but overall, it’s like taking a walking tour through comics’ awkward adolescence, and I don’t know many people who would want to sit through a 2.5 hour movie made by their teenage selves. When Batman and Superman actually get to fighting, something that’s immediately eclipsed by Batman’s way cooler follow-up fight, you can practically see Snyder and Goyer wearing letterman jackets and high-fiving in the background.
New running length: 101 minutes
4. Lex, sorry, Alexander Luthor
Time wasted: I dunno, like an hour?
Lex Luthor, or Alexander Luthor (his name changes more than his characterization) is modern cinema’s best example of “better to be thought a fool.” Every time he speaks, the film gets a little dumber, and that stupidity spreads like the concentric circles. He is the film’s meta-villain, existing to destroy the film itself, and he does an absolutely wonderful job. When he seemingly contributes, he actually takes away. Like getting Batman worked up with a few mean messages on some cheques. Or the whole subplot where he has metahuman Youtube videos, which is apparently news to the World’s Greatest Detective (who also doesn’t know the difference between a person and a boat). But his greatest crime is against our promised action sequence.
Dialogue should have been, "Hey, wait a second, they got my mom."
Picture it: The titular fight is about to go down. Superman has threatened Batman. Batman’s suited up and ready to kill him, turning on the Bat-Signal to get Superman's attention. Superman’s getting ready to go beat up Batman, and then comes Luthor with two (two!) damsels in distress to change absolutely nothing. After his little maniacal speech, the big fight is based on something that could be solved with a simple, “Hey bro, he’s got my mom.” The pieces were already in place for the fight. It was going to happen, and then the audience gets to enjoy it less because Luthor made it dumber by opening his big, dumb mouth.
New running length: 41 minutes
5. That Final Split Second (Super Spoilers Ahead)
Time wasted: half a second
While Luthor does a pretty good job of undermining most plot points in the film, Snyder takes extra special care to make the big twist ending utterly meaningless. Audiences are forced to sit through a half hour of bagpipe-loaded funeral processions, only to be told they didn’t have to. I’m Scottish and, even for me, this was a lot of bagpipes. And Snyder made me listen to all of it before popping up and saying, “Hey guys! He’s totes not dead, isn’t that cool?!”
New running length: 40 minutes and 59.5 seconds.
You see, with just a few simple cuts, we can take this movie from a two-and-a-half hour garbage fire down to the length of just two episodes of The Office. I would argue seeing Batman fight those random gangsters and Wonder Woman in the final battle are the only parts worth watching, but with this cut, you could throw in enough story to hold up the fighting and make Zack Snyder’s global time theft a little less severe.