Marvel movies are too long. There I said it! Let's get something very clear before I jump into what can be considered a bit of a rant about the current state of superheroes under the wing of mastermind Kevin Feige – I love them. I think the MCU is wonderful and has provided some of my favourite cinematic moments over the last decade... but enough is enough.
Like many people, I attend the cinema day and date for the launch of the latest Marvel movie. The excitement in the air. Finding out all the secrets before everyone else. That opening night buzz. All of it is hard to beat. Since Phase Four kicked off with Black Widow in 2021 though, it's been lacking. Maybe it's to do with the Disney Plus shows, or the after-effects of the pandemic, but I just don't think that same early level of quality has been applied over the last few years. One thing that I think has been a major detriment to the MCU is its ever-growing runtimes.
"I'm I going mad?" I say to myself every time a new Marvel movie comes out, believing that the average one is longer than ever. Well, some research into the topic and no it seems I'm not.
This all stemmed from the reported runtime of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with Regal Cinemas (opens in new tab) listing the sequel at 161 minutes. That's two hours and 41 minutes! Only 20 minutes shy of Avengers: Endgame at 181 minutes. I understand time will be needed to give Chadwick Boseman the sendoff he deserves but this isn't the only culprit.
The third longest movie in the MCU was the recent Eternals movie at 156 minutes (and boy, did it feel it). In comparison, the total average of Phase One amounted to an average MCU movie equalling 124 minutes in runtime. This then increased slightly in Phase Two to 126.5 minutes and then jumped quite a bit to 136 minutes in Phase Three, although if you take out Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame it reduces to 129 minutes.
Phase Four, on the other hand, now averages 139 minutes per movie, if this Wakanda Forever leak proves true. It's too long for the average Marvel movie. More than ever I've felt the pacing in the likes of Black Widow, Eternals, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and even Spider-Man: No Way Home to an extent, even if I adore it dearly.
For me, a lot of these recent films have needed another pass in editing. By just shaving off a good 15 to 20 minutes, it can vastly improve the pacing, similar to the first entries for Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, at 126 minutes, 114 minutes and 124 minutes, respectively.
On top of this is the benefit of rewatching a movie. When something is around the two-hour mark or under, I'm much more likely to watch it in quick succession. Oh, do I long for the days of the 90-minute comedy – and Marvel is arguably the closest we get in the cinema to a comedy release. Thor: Love and Thunder acting as the biggest example.
Again, I love Marvel movies. The storytelling. The characters. The action. The cinematic spectacle of it all is truly something special. I just don't need to be in the theatre for more than two hours every time a new one is released.
Curious about what's next for Marvel – here's every Marvel movie and Disney Plus series announced with release dates. This will then all lead to two new Avengers films – Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars – so plenty more superhero shenanigans are planned for over the next couple of years. Let's just hope they don't outstay their welcome.