And yes I'm talking even the ultimate cut here.
One reason I'm doing this is I find it so ironic people want to blame Snyder for what they see as DC doing a Shared Cinematic Universe wrong, while I'm certain a Shared Universe was NOT his original plan at all.
There is much I love about the film and much I hate. And I'm not saying Snyder's original vision would have had none of what I dislike, since I do have issues with MOS.
But, I think MOS under performing did make Warner change direction.
The-Fanboy-Perspective insists Batman being in the sequel and starting a shared universe was always the plan. And I do think execs at Warner always considered it an option. But I think while he may never admit it, originally Snyder was as against the Shared Universe idea as much as Nolan was.
Now a director being pressured to change his original vision is not necessarily synonymous with hating the experience or the film he wound up making, by the time he was filming I think Snyder loved getting to play around with Batman and Wonder Woman and The Flash and the allusions to Apokolips and Injustice. And sometimes people change their original plans without external pressure at all, so it not being the original plan does not make it inherently invalid artistically.
And I think we do still have a version of his original plan.
Batman V Superman is still very much the middle act of a trilogy. And because of that it was always going to be darker then Man of Steel, but maybe without Batman and specifically the DKR aspects it would not have been as unrelentingly dower. Because MOS did have a sense of Humor, and so did Watchman and Sucker Punch and literally every other Snyder film. Yet his reputation has become joylessness because of this one single film. Much of this film is way more typical Snyder then Man of Steel was, but it is also far far darker and grittier then typical Snyder.
What Angry Joe hates the most was always going to be in the film. The-Fanboy-Perspective is absolutely right that the Death of Superman was necessary, it's what makes this the middle act of a Trilogy and why in fact it works as that far more then The Dark Knight does. Nolan read Joseph Campbell for Rises, but Snyder was drawing on him from the start.
Lex Luthor in some capacity I think was also always part of the plan, based on the constant LexCorp logos in MOS.
Aspects of what I'll say below could make it sound like I'm suggesting Snyder's original plan was almost exactly the same but with different characters playing the roles. Obliviously that's not what I think. I do not think any of the Flash, Aquaman or Cyborg stuff had equivalents in the original plan, nor the Injustice inspired future dream/vision, nor Clark investigating Batman though I hope he would have been investigating something, for many seeing investigative reporter Clark was their favorite part. And certainly not the Martha stuff, which does happen to be what I loved most.
The Wayne Enterprises logo on that Satellite in MOS was seen as evidence of a shared universe even before they announced Batman V Superman. But it was the same Logo from the Nolan films, no thought put into it at all. There were all these fan theories that it might be relevant to how Bruce gets involved, and it wound up not being mentioned at all. SR also mentioned Gotham and the Shumacker Bat-Films each mentioned Metropolis, those didn't lead to crossovers.
Instead we got Metropolis and Gotham being twin cities right next to each other, with the Bat-Signal visible from Metropolis. Yet no mention of Gotham in MOS. Originally when people said "where was Batman when Zod attacked" I was like, you're idiots, he isn't a global player and his concern is Gotham. Once I realized Gotham and Metropolis were barely different cities, then I was like OKAY why was none of that mentioned? ever?
That twin cities decision tells me that whatever aspects of Bruce/Batman's role in this came from Snyder's original plans, were meant to be played by someone in Metropolis. It might be two roles put together, with Alfred included to provide for when the role needed to be two people. Or maybe not. But if so I actually think that is a potentially brilliant way to write Batman into a story he wasn't originally in.
Maybe some of the Batman stuff was going to be a Metropolis urban vigilante like Steel or Gangbuster or The Gaurdian. And/or maybe Superman's fight where he nearly loses because of Kryptontie was meant to be against Metallo or Conduit or a Green Battle Suit Lex Luthor. (Of course many details of that fight as finally filmed were clearly taken from DKR).
Actually the more I think about it, the more I think much of Bruce Wayne's role might have been the original plan for Luthor. I think most of Eisenberg's role in this better fits a character like Maxwell Lord or Westfeild, someone corrupt in the Government who is good a greasing the wheels.
The-Fanboy-Perspective article I linked to also pointed out the significance of beginning and ending with a funeral. If it wasn't originally gonna be Batman then how does that fit? Maybe it was an idea that came to Snyder or one of the writers after Batman started being added to the script. Or maybe it was going to begin with a Funeral of someone who died during the Zod attack? Someone at the Funeral of their friend or relative who I'll call Jack who died during all that, who then flashed back to it. I think the whole revisiting the ending of MOS from a more mortal perspective could have always been the plan, that was something I found really cool.
Remember that empty pod in the ship in Man of Steel? And the Prequel comic to explain it? How there was all that speculation on it maybe setting up Supergirl? What if Wonder Woman's role was originally meant for Supergirl? Maybe someone suggested, this female character who's been on the Earth for centuries and has Superman's power levels could easily be replaced with Wonder Woman to set up her movie.
Man of Steel was a first contact film. Michael Bailey talks about why that is central to what he doesn't like about it. I think telling a Superman Origin story as a first contact film is a very valid way to do that story. But it doesn't fit a shared universe where we learn later that all these Amazons and Atlanteans and Mother Boxes have always been here.
I'm not necessarily saying Snyder's original vision required Humans and Kryptonians as the only sentient species who exist in the Universe, (though aspects of MOS make it hard to believe otherwise, all that searching Zod and company did to find nothing). But the Fantasy/SciFi hybrid of the New Gods mythos, the purely fantasy mythos of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, and more Doctor Who like SciFi mythos of The Flash fit in many Superman universes, but not in Man of Steel.
I think something like the Steppinwolf reveal might have always been planned, but it might have originally been Eradicator or Brainiac, perhaps a more TAS/Smallville inspired Brainiac.
I also think Justice League is going to be a version of what Snyder always planned for his third Superman film, the final act of the Trilogy. And even Superman not being in the first 30 minutes to an hour of it could have been the same, but with the original plan being a World Without A Superman/Reign of The Supermen kind of story for that part. I think the Codex being in his DNA may factor into how he resurrects. And maybe Wonder Woman and the male Leaguers are replacing Supergirl and the 4 would be replacement Supermen. In the story being told now, Cyborg being made from a Motherbox could mean he'll get taken over by Steppinwolf at some point and have to fight the others.
I've defended how DC is setting up it's Universe differently then Marvel's, by not telling 7 origin story films first, by saying I want to just jump into an already rich universe, like every new Comic Book fan does, and many Animated Films do. The thing is, I knew all that time but avoided drawing attention to how Man of Steel being an Origin film goes against that effect, it's now made the original Superhero the youngest.
Batman V Superman is absolutely a sequel to Man of Steel in that it uses the same cast for all common characters, and draws on it's events (far more then The Dark Knight drew on Begins). Yet it winds up for all the reasons I just said and some others I can't explain not truly feeling like the same universe to me.
The Comics themselves often have that vibe with all the Continuity re-shifting. Following the original Crisis on Infinite Earths the Teen Titans were carrying on the same story-lines, but Superman's world is totally different and Wonder Woman started over, Batman was compatible at first but more and more flashback comics would rewrite his earlier history. Or DKSA being a totally different kind of world to DKR.
Films did this back in the Universal Monster days. Frankenstein Meets The Woflman references Ghost of Frankenstein events even though the town is a completely different kind of town, and takes place before it time period wise.
Man of Steel actually fits in the Nolanverse better then it does the 2016 and up DCEU. The question of why Superman did nothing about Bane threatening to Nuke Gotham is because he didn't show up yet, he learned to fly a year later. And it's Wayne Enterprises uses the same logo. I'll designate it Earth-N. And so those Fan Trailers of Bale and Cavil crossovers can be valid again.
BvS and Suicide Squad feel to me like the same universe even though they are tonally and stylistically different films. But MOS does not.