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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Recently, we reported on the news that Justice League will run at a shocking-low low runtime of 121 minutes. This in stark contrast for most of the other DC films that have run well over two hours — and most closer to two-and-a-half hours — in length (with the exception of Suicide Squad, but let’s be real, no one’s really looking at that film as an example for anything).

RELATED – Is Justice League Really Only Two Hours Long?

Some fans (including us), expressed a bit of doubt that two hours is enough time for a film of this scope, and others on the site, and across the internet, were of the mind that the runtime didn’t matter, so long as the movie was good.

But here’s the deal. The runtime does matter, to at least some extent. Sure, it’s not the end-all factor of what makes a great film, but there is some validity to our concerns as fans upon hearing that runtime.

If you don’t think so, may I direct you to a film called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

If you’ll recall, this film’s theatrical cut was two-and-a-half hours, and it was met with both critical and fan derision. They lambasted it for its scattered and sometimes incoherent narrative. Enter the Ultimate Cut, and all of a sudden, you hear many changing their tunes. While not everyone was convinced, the general consensus was that it was a superior film from its predecessor, as it allowed for aspects of the narrative to fully play out.

It helped paint character motivations in a way that were, at most, hinted at in the theatrical cut, and gave time for other characters like Clark Kent actually shine in a way that he never did. For someone like me, the Ultimate Cut — while running 30 minutes longer — somehow managed to feel like a much shorter film. And that’s because these extra layers of motivation helped me feel more invested in the overall story.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “That’s not an example of a runtime resulting in a better movie, but a better told story resulting in a better move.” And you know what? You’re right. More does not always equal better. That is true. We can look at countless self-important 3-hour duds (hello Transformers 3). However, with a film like Justice League, one could argue that it’s a story worth a padded runtime.

You need look no further than the sheer number of characters in the flick. This isn’t a film with one lead. Heck, it’s not a film with two. We have here a film with at least three leads, and as many as six if you count all of the Justice League. And unlike, say, The Avengers, Justice League is a film where we’re not incredibly familiar with half of the main heroes. As such, we’ll need some extra time to get to know them, so that by the time the big fiery climax we’ve seen in the trailers comes to pass, we’ll care about them. If we somehow rush to that big finale with little more than an archetypal understanding of who they are, it’ll be nothing more than a mindless, boring action sequence.

Am I saying it’s impossible for the film to work as a two-hour piece? Not at all. It can definitely work if handled properly, but it does make it harder. Plus, at face value, given the subject matter and the track records directors responsible for the piece (Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon), a longer runtime isn’t necessarily something that would hurt. Every minute given to character development and interaction between the Justice League can only help to get us invested in the battle to come.

But what do you think? Do you agree with this assessment? Are you concerned about the 121 minute runtime? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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  • bickle2

    It means it’s a piece of crap they looking to squeeze as many shows out of as possible before people find out

    • Weresmurf

      We don’t know if it is or isn’t. Their track record isn’t great, but being objective will probably help rather than being judgemental.

      • bickle2

        I am being objective, this is exactly the pattern that is repeatedly followed every single time there’s a major big budget film they expect not to have legs and I need to make the opening weekend count as much as possible. As the article states there is no way this movie should be two hours long. In fact it’s been estimated that Batman versus Superman probably lost $20-$30 million by not having those extra shows before people figured out how much it sucked

  • ElClownPrinceDeTrolls

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/566592660badcf443300a41ca96b3c1b0df6d12e62ba39fa72ac6f9ccbbaa8a2.gif

    Dc butchered this film for dlc.

    Snyder extended cut

    Wheaton extended cut

    And the ultimate Snyder whedon ultra extended cut.

  • Jack Torrence

    Here we go…bitch because it’s too long…bitch because it’s not long enough. Unbelievable bias already for a movie the majority of the public has not seen.

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      Did you even read the article?

      • Jack Torrence

        Yes, I read the article. Have you seen the finished movie as it will be presented to the general public in November?

        • Joseph Jammer Medina

          Of course not. I don’t remember ever claiming to have seen it. Nor have I claimed that it’s a bad movie thanks to its runtime.

          • Nattown

            Jack is going through some things…don’t take it personal

          • TheOct8pus

            All work and no play….

  • Victor Roa

    Shorter times mean, more people get in and out and you make more money. The problem with movies post Return of the Jedi have been longer 3rd act action set pieces. Also, I can’t tell how bad this film is even with a new team involved because I honestly was shocked over how bad Suicide Squad turned out. At the very least, I do hope the quipy one liners are true to the characters and we get some rad action, I pray to Jebus

  • Wild Dreams

    No, the running time does not matter…..it doesn’t need to be a marathon to tell a good story. All we need to know is what threat it is they are facing and why as well as seeing how they come together that’s really it….we already know Bruce and WW know these guys exist and aren’t all of these characters getting solo films ? We can find out more about them there. Justice League just needs to be a good movie so ppl actually care to even wanna see more.

  • Kronx

    If you can’t tell a story in two hours, you can’t tell a story.

    I brought up Star Wars in the last article’s comments for a reason. It has the same runtime and, not only does it establish five central characters, but it introduces an entirely new universe with complex concepts like the Force.

    The reason it works so well is that action, plot and character build off each other with very little waste. Need to know who Princess Leia is? She’s the one Darth Vader couldn’t crack. She told the 7-foot, armed wookie mercenary to get the Hell out of her way. When her planet was on the line, she lied to protect the rebellion.

    We don’t need flashbacks. We don’t need everyone moping around explaining their backstories to each other.

    Justice League can accomplish much in two hours with the right script.

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      Great argument!

    • David E

      I have a feeling the movie won’t be as razor sharp as your points. Well said.

  • Weresmurf

    I don’t think the BVS analysis is on point. It wasn’t a case of how much was cut, it was WHAT was cut that was the issue.
    BVS could have lopped off its entire third act without huge impact. Take for instance this idea, the warehouse fight itself could’ve been the third act, it was far more impressive than the Island fight with Doomsday, it could have culminated with Lex instead being ‘the fight’ in kryptonite powered armour and been more personal, making him a foe for Supes AND Bats.
    Batman and Superman could have fought during the film, Batman putting Superman down with Kryptonite, Superman being wounded, unable to regen to help Batman during the warehouse, Batman gets his arse kicked, Superman comes back to help him in time at the end, friendship established as they find out they’ve both been duped with some ‘Lexposition’. It’s simpler, more effective than the shitfest we got.
    Make it a brief 7 or 8 minute fight, have him clunky and powerful, not a giant beast like Doomsday. Have Wonderwoman a cameo at the end when she comes to ‘claim’ a photo Bruce has in his possession, strip down other extraneous elements in the film that didn’t need to be there and you have a MUCH tighter film that could easily run at 2 hours.
    It’s not the runtime that dictates quality, it’s the focus on the characters. I don’t know if JLA can do it, but I won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater first. I’m more confident now DC actually seems to be showing restraint for once, that’s for sure.

    • syambo87

      wow… stand up and applause… i love that idea where less is more…. finish with the Batman WareHouse Scene… and everyone confronts Lex in the end… entend the warehouse scene even… picturing that in my head… now its like the definitive BvS version for me…

      • Weresmurf

        I also in my head ended it like this:

        Lex Luthor is killed in the end… his body is then taken away by some group we are uncertain of, until we see LEXCORP on a van.

        In the credits, we see a man in a bed, receiving an operation, organs, a name scribbled on a board, it’s the actor Mark Strong, and he’s the real Lex Luthor, the one who died, was actually Alexandor Luthor.. Two businessmen are speaking outside the operating theater, discussing how it was his younger clone who went a little insane when he was forced to step up and ‘take on being Lex’s son’ when Lex originally fell ill due to a degenerative disease. Cut to black.

  • jonathing

    abyss cut version dog poo abyss uncut version the dogs bollocks

  • David E

    Here is the thing. The trailers have given Aquaman more character than BvS and Mos did for Batman and Superman. The trailers show Aquaman as a rebelious hard drinking bad-ass. Done. Not that hard.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer’s always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he’s always been something of a story junkie.