The Batman Will Be Nearly 3 Hours Long

As Roger Ebert was fond of saying, "No good film is too long, and no bad film is short enough." As Matt Reeves' "The Batman"  has not yet been released (it has been delayed several times, and is currently set to be released on March 4, 2022), no one can speak to its quality, pacing, plot, or what sort of elaborate narrative Reeves and his co-screenwriter Peter Craig have created, so we can only postulate as to why the following run time may be warranted. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The Batman" is set to be 175 minutes long. 

"The Batman" stars Robert Pattinson as the title character, and will feature the Riddler (Paul Dano), Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), and Penguin (Colin Ferrell). The story focuses on Batman during his early years as a crimefighter and follows the supervillains as they rise to prominence for the first time. "The Batman" follows the familiar "early years" storytelling of the Dark Knight shared by "Gotham," "Joker," "Batman Begins," "Batman: Year One," and the 2004 animated series "The Batman." Reeves' film will trace the simultaneous rise of four well-known Batman characters who have all appeared in numerous film and TV versions. And, as we now know, he will take 175 minutes to do it.

How Does That Compare?

If one includes both cuts of "Justice League," two cuts of "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," and three unreleased films currently in production, Batman or Bruce Wayne has appeared in 19 live-action feature films or series. 

Of the 19, the longest is 1943's "Batman," which is, in fact, a serial that ran for 15 episodes and stars Lewis Wilson as Batman. When taken as a whole, the serial runs about 266 minutes. Second longest is the follow-up serial from 1949 with Robert Lowery as Batman. That serial, called "Batman and Robin," runs about 263 minutes.

The third longest Batman film is the notorious 2021 redux, "Zack Snyder's Justice League," which may be considered a remake if you really want to get your peer group angry. That infamously runs 242 minutes. If you count the Ultimate Cut of Zack Snyder's "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," then it comes in at fourth-longest at 183 minutes. 

"The Batman," then, is the fifth-longest live-action Batman film, and the longest to be released as a first-run feature.

Just for completion's sake, here's a full list of titles and their running times, in minutes:

  1. Batman (1943): 266
  2. Batman and Robin (1949): 263
  3. Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021): 242
  4. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Ultimate Cut (2016): 183
  5. The Batman (2022): 175
  6. The Dark Knight Rises (2012): 165
  7. The Dark Knight (2008): 152
  8. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): 152
  9. Batman Begins (2005): 140
  10. Batman (1989): 126
  11. Batman Returns (1991): 126
  12. Batman & Robin (1997): 125
  13. Suicide Squad (2016): 123
  14. Joker (2019): 122
  15. Justice League (2017): 120
  16. Batman Forever (1995): 120
  17. Batman: The Movie (1966): 104
  18. The Flash and Batgirl, TBA

Are Movies Getting Longer?

If it seems feature films are growing longer in general, it's because they are ... but not as much as you might think. 

In 2018, a website called Towards Data Science conducted a study that sought to average out the lengths of all feature films, going back to 1911. Using IMDb as their data set, TDS found that, over the course of history, the highest number of movies only ran between 90 and 100 minutes (or, as any person over 35 might say, "a good length"). The data showed that films, while getting ever so slightly longer in general, are still averaging out in the classic 80 – 130-minute range. What we are seeing, however, is an increase in the length of blockbuster genre entertainment. In 1966, 104 minutes was epic by "Batman" standards. In 2022, 175 minutes isn't even the longest superhero film in the last few years. 

But let us never forget the comic book origins of these characters. Comic books, like soap operas, are in the unique position of having to continue a character's story indefinitely. As such, the unending nature of long superhero movies, film series that run like 100-episode TV shows, and actual TV series that link together into what amounts to six-hour features, is only in keeping with the nature of comic books: they never end. The character may die, but they will be resurrected, rebooted, or supplanted by a parallel universe double. 

For those who love to ride the wave for decades, they are set. For those who long for conclusions, well, we can keep on hoping for a meteor.