While making a public appearance at the Business Insider Ignition conference, directors Joe and Anthony Russo addressed multiple topics regarding their film careers, specifically their most successful project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, Avengers: Infinity War. That topic veered into the duo discussing the state of traditional two-hour movies, which, in Joe Russo's opinion, are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
“The two-hour film has had a great run over 100 years,” said Joe Russo said of traditional movie runtimes. “But it’s become very difficult to work in … I’m not sure that the generation that’s coming up will see the two-hour film as the dominant form of storytelling.”
Russo noted that, when working within the confines of a two-hour runtime, films are left vulnerable to predictability, claiming that even a child could guess the ending of a movie after watching the first five minutes. Venturing beyond two hours allows more development, twists and surprises that would otherwise be forced out when operating with a strict time limit.
Russo even compared two-hour film caps to sonnets, which are poems that are no more or less than 14 lines. “Hey, we all love sonnets," said Russo. "Let’s just write sonnets for 100 years.”
Of course, we have already seen Russo's philosophy in action in the Avengers film series. Joss Whedon's first installment, The Avengers, premiered in 2012 with a running time of two hours and 23 minutes. The epic, extended Battle of New York would have likely been diluted without that extra time, and the film was widely praised. Avengers: Age of Ultron stuck to that foundation almost to a tee, running two hours and 22 minutes long.
Recently, the Russos' longest films have also been their most anticipated, as Avengers: Infinity War ran two hours and 40 minutes, leaving plenty of time for fantastic scenes, such as the surprising Red Skull reveal and Thor's construction of Stormbreaker. The film is regarded as one of the strongest in MCU history, and the Russos' seem to be doubling down on the extended film length for the fourth Avengers, as they have confirmed that it could reach an unprecedented three hours in length, potentially making it the longest film the MCU has ever seen.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers 4 stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Brie Larson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Evangeline Lilly and Josh Brolin. The film arrives May 3, 2019.