NPR

Blockbuster Films Keep Getting Longer; How And Why Did We Get Here?

Critic Chris Klimek crunches the numbers to examine how and why blockbuster films like Avengers: Endgame grew to such great, bladder-busting lengths.
Thanos' spaceship looms in Avengers: Endgame, only the latest blockbuster to break banks and burst bladders, with a run time of 3 hours, 2 minutes. Source: Marvel Studios

"No amount of money ever bought a second of time," says Tony "Iron Man" Stark, patient zero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, midway through the new Avengers: Endgame.

As has frequently been the case in the nine Marvel films in which he has appeared, Mr. Stark is right but also wrong. Endgame, the long-promised commencement ceremony/farewell tour for the founding class of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, has both commodities in abundance. Contrast that with the 1990 Cannon Films production Captain America, starring Matt (Revenge of the Nerds) Salinger as Steve Rogers, which runs a svelte 97 minutes and looks like it may well have cost several hundred dollars.

That was then. As the capstone of Marvel Studios' 11-year, 22-film saga, freely adapted from more than half a century of comic books, the no-expense-spared dares what few blockbusters have, occupying a bladder-taxing, intermission-free 182 minutes. But then, movies such as this one — franchise entries, popcorn flicks, movies that harbor artistic ambitions but are designed to draw a huge audience — began to Hulk out yearsarrived in May of 2008.

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