Some recent movies — Dune (2021), Eternals (2021), and now The Batman (2022) — take a long time to tell their stories; going at nearly three hours from beginning to the last of the end credits… I say a three-hour runtime is actually just fine so long as the filmmakers make every minute count!
At two hours and fifty-five minutes runtime, The Batman asks us all if we are that dedicated to seeing what could be the best Batman movie ever. Audiences can tough it out, focus, and perhaps take it easy on the beverages at the theater in order to see quality as opposed to easy and soul-less products which take less time.
To be fair, three hours is a long time to hold off from bathroom visits; more than that, it’s a bit of an ask on many movie-goers to sit through one story for that long… But if the story is actually good, the time spent is worth it!
Consider a lengthy movie like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) [3hrs, 21min]! Consider Spartacus (1960) [3hrs, 17min]! While you’re at it, consider Ben-Hur (1959) [3hrs, 32min] and Lawrence of Arabia (1962) [3hrs, 36min]… Sure even these classics have their issues — don’t get me started on white actors made up to resemble different ethnicities in Ben-Hur or Lawrence — but each of these lengthy movies made their entire runtime worthwhile!
Movies like these would not punch as strong if they were trimmed down any further. Ben-Hur would suffer if the entirety of lead character Judah’s time as a galley slave were removed and he went from prisoner to adopted son of Quintus Arrius with some throwaway verbal exchange regarding how the former saved the latter’s life. We’d miss out on one important part of Judah’s experience which leads him to resent the Roman Empire and denounce the name of Arrius.
Longer runtimes allow room for the story to be told well and the acting to take its time in all the right places; they can achieve solid storytelling if balanced well. This of course can’t be said for every movie. Much as I believe a longer runtime can result in a solid story, there are examples of films which run long but fall short nonetheless:
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) was supposed to take a classic rivalry, two sides of the same coin butting heads over ideologies for the first time on the big screen, and failed to deliver on this concept. Instead, it gave us two hours and thirty-one minutes of “it’s so depressing to be Superman” meets “I’m the dark and gritty Batman you want but WOW do I hate and suspect alien demigods who continually do good things just because” along with a sadly daffy and loony-toons depiction of the once powerful figure we knew as Lex Luthor. Here, though, the problem is not so much a long runtime but a badly told story…
By many fan accounts from those who previewed The Batman, or those of us who viewed the first, second, and third trailers on YouTube time and time again to revel in the expectation, something about this movie feels like it will be a well-told Batman story and the nearly three-hour runtime will be partially responsible for that. Give Batman time to be a dangerous fighter and also a master detective! Give us a deep story about both Batman and Bruce Wayne while you’re at it!
More movies should take their time and deliver better stories. If a story is good, a lengthy runtime can be managed by the average movie-goer. Many modern films and T.V. shows try to push everything quickly so audiences don’t have to watch too long before they can move on to something else; binge-watching another show, perhaps. We could do to slow down and let a story take its time to entertain. If it’s a bad story, that’s the time to complain.
How do you feel about the near three-hour long runtime for The Batman? Comment below! Check out this Geek News Now article on my wish list of ways to make sure The Batman doesn’t bat-bomb! Also, subscribe to Geek News Now and give it a like on its Facebook page!