Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Runtime Continues a Risky Trend
Why does a swan song need to be so long?
Marvel movies are big cinematic events featuring premiere showings, raucous crowds, and hardcore fans sticking around after the credits to see what they can glean about the MCU’s future. However, the way we define a Marvel movie has changed. Now we measure new movies against the old ones, and a concerning trend is starting to emerge; one Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will only double down on.
Director James Gunn responded to a fan on Instagram who asked about the runtime of Vol. 3, which will conclude the current Guardians saga. Gunn said the movie would be longer than the first two, which clocked in at 2:02 and 2:17, respectively. That isn’t too surprising — we haven’t had a movie shorter than Guardians of the Galaxy since Thor: Love and Thunder squeaked in at under two hours — but it is indicative of the growing bloat of MCU movies.
Ever since Avengers: Endgame broke the three-hour mark, the average runtime for Marvel movies is getting longer and longer. Phase 4 contained three epics (or, depending on your perspective, slogs): Eternals was 2:36, Spider-Man: No Way Home was 2:38, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever clocked in at a massive two hours and 41 minutes.
While Phase 5 began with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania dialing things back with a two-hour and five-minute runtime, it looks like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will once again stretch the MCU’s runtime out. It may earn it — it’s the last chapter in the trilogy, and it has to wrap up many loose strings while packing an emotional punch and working in the Guardians’ trademark humor. But it has to be possible to do all of that in less than the 2:17 that Vol. 2 needed.
Beyond the Guardians, yet another epic is not good for the MCU as a whole. Catching up on the MCU — or even just keeping up with it — is already a Herculean task, and adding increasingly butt-numbing viewing experiences risks moving the franchise beyond daunting and into inaccessible. James Gunn may have his reasons, but someone needs to reverse the trend and give us a short and sweet Marvel movie again.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 premieres on May 5, 2023.