Justice League Doesn’t Need To Be Three Hours
When it comes down to it, two hours is on the long side for films – 100 minutes is the ideal mark – and going over requires real purpose and the promise of something to keep audiences engaged. That it’s become commonplace in recent years for movies to hew closer to 2 hours 20 minutes is a misplaced notion of more bang for buck, and proliferation doesn’t mean it’s right: when you’re getting comedies coming in at two hours or films about robots punching each other nearing three, there’s struggles.
Length should fit the product, and from what we know about Justice League, it’s not going to be too complex a narrative. Unlike BvS, which still boggles, it’s going to be a standard, three-act adventure: Bruce Wayne unites the League in the face of extra-terrestrial threat; the team tries and fails to stop Steppenwolf once; they’re rejoined by Superman and all is well. It’s naturally going to be more involved, but from everything that’s been said by those involved and shown in the trailers, that’s the score; there may be something major hiding, but that’s rarely how Hollywood works, especially Warner Bros., and as Superman is the hidden factor of choice, it would be weird for anything to be so secret.
That’s a perfect fit for two hours of film. The story can be told in a tight way that balances narrative thrust and character dynamics with little fat. Indeed, we’ve already seen similar this year. Dunkirk was a war movie, and one of the best at that, yet came in as Nolan’s shortest since his debut. There the fact it was 107 minutes didn’t hurt; it made the point better. There’s a misconstruing of length with weight and worth, especially in genre fare that often is overlooked in serious circles that’s frankly misplaced. If a movie can be complete in a shorter time, why pad it out just for the illusion of prestige?
In that vein, there’s sure to be some upset that the film isn’t going to be a sprawling epic that goes down in history as the superhero genre’s answer to The Lord of the Rings, but that’s not what Justice League is or ever was trying to be. It has the epic battle in the prologue and will feature the Earth in peril, but there has been no suggestion of it ever being anything more than that basic romp under either Snyder or Whedon. Those wanting some grand scale modern myth that gives Lawrence of Arabia a run for its money are, quite simply, expecting the wrong sort of film.
Justice League is going to be very different to everything that’s come before in the DCEU. It’s the redemptive step of the Superman trilogy and, being less about tortured aliens and even more broken vigilantes, has a light, more varied tone. That it’s shorter is less important than any of that, but if it does say anything about the finished product, it’s only positive.
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