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It was very clear well before we knew what the runtime for Avengers: Endgame would be, and well before we even knew what the official title would be, that it would be a long movie. It is going to be a long movie, but it’s one screenwriter Stephen McFeeley feels is “exactly as long as it needs to be.”
First and foremost, Avengers: Endgame isn’t going to be long, it’s going to be hella long, clocking in at 3 hours and 1 minute in length. AKA 181 minutes. A movie which you could also think of as "not short."
That’s the sort of length of time that’s comparable to hobbits traveling away from the Shire for the first time or the length of time it takes for scientists to explore Pandora’s biosphere and mess with the environment in the process.
Per Stephen McFeeley, however, the movie’s lengthy runtime works and he's happy to talk about why it works, saying,
It's exactly as long as it needs to be. Any shorter and it would have felt like we weren't honoring all the threads and franchises that are feeding into this climax. Twenty-two movies in, not only has the movie earned its length, but people deserve a movie of that substance.
He also revealed why, noting it’s very important that each of the individual franchises are highlighted in this final movie focusing on the original Avengers. In total, the movie will feel as if it has weight and substance, according to the writer. (Although he did write it, so I’d hope he didn’t have the opinion he was just putting fluff out into the universe.)
However, if you are worried that three hours will drag on and on and on, Stephen McFeeley also claimed in his interview with Vulture that the time will fly.
I swear to God, it sounds like a paradox to say this, but it's a lean three hours.
In fact, we’ve already heard this super long movie is extremely tight and that every single scene will matter to the whole (along with hopefully being fun, funny and epic). Unlike some of those early episodes of Game of Thrones, there really won’t be much filler, to the point where Marvel's Kevin Feige basically stated there won’t be a good time to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the movie. The flick, in fact, was designed that way.
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.
Spoiler alert: I still plan to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the movie. Someone probably should have worked a bathroom break in there, because I’m 100% positive I’m going to miss at least two minutes of this movie. I just have to hope I won’t miss something super important.
To that point, this movie is so long there has been some chatter online that we should get a bathroom break in the form of an intermission.
Our own Mike Reyes would argue against the inclusion of an intermission, and he has some valid reasons for why he’s opposed to that sort of addition; however, I do have fond memories of getting up in the middle of a special showing of Gone with the Wind as a kid and grabbing more popcorn. So, intermissions could theoretically work for modern audiences.
Either way, we aren’t getting an intermission with Avengers: Endgame, so this sort of argument is rather moot. What’s not moot is figuring out how to hold your bladder for three hours if you are hyper invested in this superhero and space story.
If not, we already have seen a small chunk of Avengers: Endgame in the form of footage revealing the plan to take on Thanos. Unfortunately, given the context of the scene, even if you've seen that entire segment already, it's likely to come closer to the beginning of the movie rather than the middle, which means it may not be a great opportunity for you to get up and stretch your legs.
At the end of the day, Avengers: Endgame's other writer Christopher Markus also defends the length of Endgame because a shorter movie would not be capable of wrapping up the entire Phase Three of the MCU (and possibly all the phases that came before it). After all, Thanos not only has to be defeated but a slew of character arcs also have to be tied up! A lot needs to happen. He said:
If we told you the entire universe got snapped out and we were gonna wrap it up in a tight 85, you’d have issues.
I mean, 85 minutes at this point is short for even an animated movie, but I take his point. At least everyone is guaranteed to get bang for their buck with this movie, as well. It's the longest movie in the MCU so far, competing only against its predecessor Avengers: Infinity War, a movie that is a whopping 32 minutes shorter.
Get prepared for the long and arduous journey your bladder is about to go on, because Avengers: Endgame is finally out next week. At that point we'll find out whether this arduous movie works or you'll likely start seeing headlines akin to "Should this have been a trilogy?" Either way, I'm pumped to see how it all pans out.