The DC Extended Universe is bringing things full-circle with Zack Snyder’s Justice League, building on the threats of alien invasion which he laid down in 2013’s Man of Steel and 2015’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. As Steppenwolf brings over Darkseid’s army from Apokolips in search of three valuable Mother Boxes, it’s safe to say audiences expect a story of epic proportions. All of this makes it very odd, then, that the film stands as the DC Extended Universe’s shortest film to date at 121 minutes, a decision that was reportedly directly ordered by the CEO of Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara.
The majority of the DCEU’s movies have endured heavy criticism for their storytelling, so it leaves us wondering if a shortened narrative is the best direction to go in. This comes on the heels of this year’s Wonder Woman, a film that ran for nearly two and a half hours and helped Warner Bros.’ superhero universe recalibrate its tone and overall translation of superhero films. With half of the Justice League being newly introduced here, as well as villains we’ve never seen before, fans do have valid concerns over this film’s runtime.
Proper Assembly Required
The DCEU’s three biggest films — Man of Steel (143 minutes), BvS (151 minutes) and Wonder Woman (141 minutes) — were all fairly long. Director Zack Snyder’s two movies, despite the heat they got, provided proper detail and background story as to how Superman evolved from a rash defender to a selfless symbol of hope, how Batman moved from bitter vigilante to an inspired hero once more, all while introducing Wonder Woman to the big screen for the first time (her LEGO Movie minifig appearance notwithstanding).
Patty Jenkins also had ample screen time to mold Diana of Themyscira as a proper demi-god, informing audiences as to why she entered the fray in BvS and Justice League. Now, Snyder and Joss Whedon are adding three new heroes to the fold in Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg, and reviving a dead Superman, all in just about two hours. It won’t be easy shaping the League as a well-oiled unit in such a short space of time. That’s a lot to get done in a single film, regardless of the runtime, and the challenge is even great if the team’s chemistry is meant to feel organic and believable.
And then, there’s the matter of the League’s first major nemesis…
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