This year's Avengers: Infinity War was an event a decade in the making; the moment 18 films had been building towards and the beginning of the end of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That film's 2 hour and 40 minute runtime reflected that import, clocking in as the MCU's longest film to date. Avengers 4 is set to be even more momentous and it sounds like it could be much longer too, according to co-director Joe Russo:
The running time on Avengers 4 is currently sitting right at three hours. We'll see if that holds.
That is very, very long. A three-hour runtime would easily make Avengers 4 the longest MCU movie to date by a wide margin and probably the longest one that there would be for some time, at least until Avengers 5 or something similarly massive comes along. And as the final Phase 3 film and the culmination of the MCU's first decade, Avengers 4 would certainly befit such an epic runtime.
Of course, as Joe Russo said, that runtime could change, it's just that three hours is where Avengers 4 is at right now. Still though, that runtime does in a way confirm the obvious, that Avengers 4 has a lot of story to tell and it will be an epic film that completes this Phase of the MCU in a big way.
Avengers 4 is a long way off from picture lock, and while I wouldn't expect that runtime to increase, it could definitely come down to something closer to Avengers: Infinity War's runtime. In the live-stream promoting his new bar Duello, Joe Russo also spoke about where he and brother Anthony are in the edit, saying:
We're about halfway through the editing process. We're really just scratching the surface on our VFX shots. There are more than 3,000 VFX shots in the movie; those require a lot of time and thought and energy and effort, and we're very early in the phase of getting VFX done. We've just started work with Alan Silvestri on the score, and we're still editing picture at this point.
So basically there is still a lot of work to be done on Avengers 4 before it is ready to play in theaters. The scoring has just begun, the bulk of the VFX is not finished and the cut itself is still being worked on. A lot of things can and probably will change between now and when the film is finished, but this at least gives us an idea of where this crazily anticipated movie is currently at. Joe Russo did not, however, provide any answers about the film's title or when we'll be seeing the first trailer.
It would be very interesting if Avengers 4 made it to theaters with a three-hour runtime. You don't see three-hour movies very much in general, and definitely not for blockbusters. Studios tend to favor shorter runtimes (e.g. Justice League) to pack in more screenings per day and not discourage audiences from seeing a film because of a daunting length.
Three-hour runtimes are usually the dominion of prestige auteurist flicks as opposed to mass-market blockbusters. The only movie approaching an analog is the 3 hour and 21 minute Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That movie did alright for itself, though even if it could have used an intermission for bathroom breaks.
I think a lot of MCU fans would be totally on board for a three-hour Avengers 4. One would think that this movie has a lot of ground to cover and a runtime that allows the film to do that while not feeling rushed or short-changed would be for the best. Whatever the runtime is, I just want it to be no shorter than what the Russo Brothers need to tell their story.
Avengers 4 opens in theaters on May 3, 2019. Check out our 2019 release schedule for that and all the other huge movies coming to theaters next year.