Justice League's Shorter Runtime is a Good Thing

Ben Affleck as Batman in Justice League

Justice League finally has a runtime - and it's a surprising one. Previous rumors had the film being as long as three hours, but it seems like Zack Snyder's epic team-up will be the shortest of the entire DCEU so far, coming in at a mere 121 minutes. This is a very good thing.

Of course, the announcement that Justice League will be only two hours (with change) has already got its fair share of reactionary takes. Many DCEU fans seem annoyed that the film is going to come in over an hour shorter than Snyder's previous film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Ultimate Edition, bringing up the still-raging debate over the chops and changes made to the film by Joss Whedon. Indeed, considering the movie was going to once be a two-part story, for it to now have a runtime less than villain romp Suicide Squad definitely feels unexpected.

Read More: Justice League Reshoots: What Was (& Wasn’t) Changed

But, really, there's no way we can see this as anything but a positive development. There's a lot of varied expectations for Justice League, but almost every side should be happy with this outcome.

It Avoids One of Batman v Superman's Biggest Criticisms

Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Putting it lightly, Batman v Superman was not the most liked movie. Its reviews were savage and the cultural standing of it has only been further chipped away by the cries a thousand Marthas. It does have its fans and made an impressive $872M, but the numbers are much lower in both camps than what Warner Bros. likely wanted. The fact is, BvS is divisive, and that it's remained in the cultural discussion in the eighteen months since only serves to highlight how objectionable so many found it.

Central to these criticisms was the film's structure. Pretty much every aspect of Snyder's style was called into question - the saturated images, the needless comic book callbacks, the blunt and confused deconstructions, the bewildering entirety of Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, the obviousness of its textual themes - but the fact that the film was so protracted and seemingly so random was a major part of it. Yes, defenders will claim it's meant to be a five-act play, but the execution doesn't deliver anything of that weight. It's a long film, coming in theatrically at 151 minutes, and while the Ultimate Edition does plug some of the holes, it does so with an extra thirty minutes of running time, hardly the most accommodating.

Justice League has its own behind-the-scenes narrative but certainly exists in Dawn of Justice's shadow. Being shorter means it automatically gets some plus points from dissenters and has a chance to avoid the problems that plagued Batman v Superman and Man of Steel before it. Beyond addressing backlash, though, it has a strong organic purpose.

Related: Justice League: Why Studio Interference May Be a Good Thing

Length is a big issue outside of the DCEU, of course. A bad movie is a bad movie if it's 40 minutes (the shortest classification for a feature film) or 240 minutes, but the shorter one has less opportunity for it to outstay its welcome. Even widely-beloved films can be sniffed at for pushing well into three-hour territory - Blade Runner 2049 has raves from audiences and critics alike, yet it's still lumbered with accusations of being too long or, that criticism's close cousin, boring.

Justice League can avoid all this inherently by just getting down and telling its story. There is still the genuine concern it'll be too short and thus scrappy, perhaps choppy because of its two directors, although we're not really talking about something that's only just making 90 minutes with credits. For all the production issues, this doesn't sound like Fant4stic or The Dark Tower where a product that can barely be called a movie was being cobbled together for a forced deadline. In fact, when you look at what Justice League is, it all begins to make sense.

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Key Release Dates
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
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