The complaint that blockbuster movies nowadays are too long has been a standard gripe for awhile now, and so common that it’s become stale and annoying on its own. I want to acknowledge that I know this, and agree with this sentiment, and yet I am utterly powerless not to say Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s upcoming The Batman is too damn long. Like, way too long.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the movie runs a frankly disgusting two hours and 55 minutes, only eight of which are the closing credits. That’s the longest by far of any previous Batman movie, nearly 30 minutes more than Avengers: Infinity War (2h, 29m), and mere seven minutes less than Avengers: Endgame (3h, 2m), which starred dozens and dozens of major characters and was meant to be the final chapter in an epic story that spawned more than 20 movies over the course of 11 years. All for a movie merely starring Batman, Catwoman, Riddler, and the Penguin.
Look, director Reeves knocked the latter two installments of the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy out of the park, and it’s entirely possible that every single moment of The Batman will be a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish and unmistakeably necessary to tell its story. But, uh, probably not? The runtimes of many modern blockbusters are bloated because studios confuse quantity with quality—or, just as likely, hope audiences confuse quantity with quality. But just because a movie is long doesn’t mean it has a story complex enough or interesting enough to justify its length. One of the thin silver linings of the pandemic has been the day-and-date digital releases of movies, where they can be watched in manageable chucks, or at least paused so you can run to the bathroom without missing anything. (I’ll let you in on a little secret: Most movies are so overlong that when many critics are sent to review films that are 90 or 105 minutes long, they get legitimately excited.)
Maybe I’ll eat my words when The Batman premieres on March 4, and I’ll be happy to do so. But I think it’s rather telling that when this news broke, many critics didn’t feel excitement at having so much more Batman content to watch, just exhaustion.
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