‘Avengers 4’ Director Joe Russo: The Two-Hour Movie Is Dying

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"Avengers: Infinity War" director Joe Russo wants you to know that the two-hour movie is going extinct. Speaking to Business Insider (via Deadline), Russo claims that, in the future, filmmakers will no longer be restricted by a 120 minute run-time to tell their stories.
“We are in a major moment of disruption,” Russo said. “The two-hour film has had a great run for about 100 years but it’s become a very predictive format. It’s difficult, I think, to work in it. … It’s sort of like saying, ‘We all like sonnets, so let’s tell sonnets for 100 years, as many ways as we possibly can… I’m not sure that this next generation that is coming up is going to see two-hour narrative as the predominant form of storytelling for them.

Joe and Anthony Russo’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” was 149 minutes, but Russo admits he would love for its sequel to run 3 hours, which is the cut he has right now. Something's telling me the mouse house will want none of that and a considerable snip is in the works.

Fine, Marvel movies run at two hours in length, on average, so will the token Marvel movie go extinct as well? Russo, of course, claims that Marvel movies should be seen as an exception and that they are, in fact a “new form of storytelling” because each movie is a continuation of the universe-building the MCU has been known to do since 2008's "Iron Man." This structure “exploits the two-hour narrative in a different way,” the director claims. 

Before you go on attacking Russo, there is some truth in what he's saying, minus the whole "Marvel is an exception" shtick, which I believe is nonsense. What television has done is expand our idea of what a narrative can do. Why do so many TV shows feel fully fleshed out and immeasurably more layered than most movies these days? Well, because on the small-screen a director has 10+ hours to tell his or her story. There is so much more creative freedom.

The 120 minute run-time in cinema can, in fact, be quite limiting in making the viewer fully inhabit a particular world and its characters. Russo describing films as "sonnets" is dead-on; I like that comparison, but we've now evolved beyond that. There's an unlimited array of options as to what can be done on TV due to a lack of restrictions in the narrative length. That's why I love these one-off shows like "The Night Of," "Making A Murderer," "Fargo," "True Detective (Season One)," "Twin Peaks: The Return" and "Big Little Lies." Those are among the very best works I've seen this decade, in any medium.