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Director Matt Reeves Responds To Criticisms Over The Batman's Runtime

How long is too long? When it comes to a comic book movie, is there a runtime that is considered too long? With its nearly three-hour runtime, Matt Reeves' "The Batman" will test that question to see if there is a limit. Earlier this year, the film's runtime was revealed to be two hours and 55 minutes. There was chatter from fans about what it meant. According to Redditor u/blitzbom, "We really need intermissions in movies this long. Not just cut the movie at the halfway point, but a logical part for a break." Meanwhile, users like u/seizmane displayed their excitement, writing, "That's alot of VENGENCE [sic]."

While longer movies have become a staple in the modern theater ("No Time to Die" ran for two hours and 45 minutes and "House of Gucci" and "The Last Duel" also both broke two and a half hours), theaters are said to lose one whole showtime a day. But does it work for a comic book movie?

With its current runtime, "The Batman" is the longest of any solo Batman film. What's more, it will be the second-longest comic book film, trailing only "Avengers: Endgame," which ran for three hours and one minute. But how does the director himself feel about the runtime? Here is what he said in response to the concerns.

Reeves doesn't think it will be an issue

Two hours and 55 minutes is a long time to stretch the soda and popcorn. However, both of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises" ran over two and a half hours. The second and third films dove deep into the character building, bringing us Heath Ledger's Joker and Tom Hardy's Bane as much more fleshed-out villains than previous incarnations. In an interview with The New York Times, Matt Reeves seemed to believe his film will do the same as he addressed the concerns critics and fans had with the longer runtime. "Once you see the movie, I think that ceases to be an issue," he said. "It's immersive, it takes you along, and it keeps you engrossed." He also hinted at the fact that the movie could actually have been much longer. 

It isn't hard to see how the movie could have jumped over the three-hour mark. While Matt Reeves has said he has no plans to bring Superman into the universe at the moment, the film has confirmed four villains. With Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (Colin Ferrell), The Riddler (Paul Dano), and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) as the primary antagonists, John Turturro is set to appear as mob boss Carmine Falcone as well. Getting screen time and complete story arcs for that many rogues could easily push a film past the usual timeframe. If this is the character and story-driven Batman film that audiences have come to expect from Matt Reeves, no character will be left unexplored. Unless, of course, it is set up to continue in a follow-up. 

The length of the film could potentially set up a trilogy

While longer movies aren't new ("Titanic" sports a runtime of about three hours and 15 minutes, and "Gone With the Wind" feels like a blink of an eye at just under four), superhero movies don't typically run those more extended showings. Action-packed movies like "Zack Snyder's Justice League" and Martin Scorsese's slow-burn "The Irishman" proved that fans are ready to buckle in with a good storyline and engaging characters for the long haul. Granted, the latter were streaming and made it easy to hit the pause button for a bathroom break. However, when audiences know a film is setting up something bigger, they have more patience for a slow-burn. A film like "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings" showed that a three-hour movie can be a massive success if viewers have bought into what's next. 

In a conversation with Forbes, Reeves spoke about using this movie to potentially launch a trilogy of films. He gave an idea of the kinds of storylines he wants to work with, including "The Long Halloween." The last iteration of that storyline was an animated film for HBO Max. That storyline was also long enough to break up into two parts. Batman has a long and rich history of storylines and villains that lend themselves to long-form storytelling. Matt Reeves has undoubtedly proven himself to be able to capture the audience's attention with storytelling in the past, but it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to do the same with "The Batman."