Avengers: Endgame's three-hour runtime is the least interesting thing about the film, according to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. If ever there was a tentpole that demanded a long runtime (be it three hours or more), it would certainly be Endgame. The sequel serves as the culmination of eleven years and more than twenty films' worth of storytelling, starting with the original Iron Man and carrying on through to last year's Avengers: Infinity War. It also has to payoff the latter's cliffhanger ending, which saw half of all life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe "dusted" by Thanos.
Between all that and the sheer number of characters (basically, everyone still alive in the MCU) demanding screen time in the film, it's long been expected that Endgame would be the longest MCU blockbuster to date. Sure enough, directors Anthony and Joe Russo have now confirmed that Endgame runs a little north of three hours in total (fifty-eight seconds, to be precise). As for Feige: the MCU architect mostly seems happy that the runtime is official, and the discussion around the film can finally move onto other topics.
Speaking to io9, Feige said he feels the runtime is the "least interesting thing" about Endgame or any movie, for that matter. He went on to explain that the MCU's films are, generally speaking, as long as they need to be, and what that even means:
“What I’ve always said is a movie is as long as it should be. And we are not fans of overindulging movies. We are not fans of laborious lengths for no reason. We are fans of movies that you wish didn’t end. Movies that you want to see again as soon as it’s over. And movies that you just don’t ever find a good time to run out to the bathroom. That’s when a movie’s working. And if a movie doesn’t feel like that to us we continue to trim, we continue to shape, we continue to bring that time down. That happened to a certain extent on this movie. But we got to a point where it feels very exciting and goes by very quickly and in the end is the perfect length. And everybody that saw the movie felt the same way.”
It's fairly easy to grasp what Feige is getting at here. A long runtime isn't necessarily indicative of a movie's pacing and narrative structure being good or bad any more than a short runtime is. Indeed, there are plenty of films out there that seem to drag on forever, despite running well under two hours (or even 90 minutes, in certain cases). By comparison, there've been plenty of blockbusters over the last two decades alone - ranging from the Lord of the Rings trilogy to recent films like Mission: Impossible - Fallout and Aquaman - that've run upwards of two and a half hours or more, yet managed to fly by with nary a moment that drags or feels superfluous. It remains to be seen if that's the case or not with Endgame, but Feige, the Russos, and co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely seem pretty confident that it is (at the moment, anyway).
Besides, whether the movie lives up to the daunting expectations or not, its runtime will probably be the last thing on a lot of people's minds by the time Endgame wraps up. The Russos have described the film's ending as being a "definitive conclusion" to the larger Infinity Saga, and one that's never really been done in a superhero blockbuster before. It's an intriguing tease and one that fans have been anticipating, knowing that Endgame will mark the end of the road for a lot of their favorite Avengers, one way or another. If they have to wait another three hours to finish the journey, then so be it.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019