‘Thor: Love and Thunder’: Why Fans Should Be Happy About the Shorter Runtime

One of the original Avengers is back on the big screen in Thor: Love and Thunder. And director Taika Waititi’s new movie is a significant departure for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a few ways. The film makes Chris Hemsworth the first MCU hero to headline more than three solo films. But it also harkens back to the MCU’s earlier years with a more modest runtime than recent movies.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe leans into big-screen epics

More often than not, the MCU has tested theater-going audiences’ bladders with epic-length superhero tales. Most famously, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame ran for over three hours and still went on to earn $2.8 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. But several other Phase 4 movies, including Spider-Man: No Way Home and Eternals, are significantly longer than two hours.

By contrast, Thor: Love and Thunder runs a mere 119 minutes, according to IMDb. That makes it the shortest movie Marvel Studios has released since 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is 118 minutes long. Waititi’s 2017 release Thor: Ragnarok is 130 minutes long, compared to the 114-minute and 112-minute runtimes of the first two Thor movies, respectively.

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Why ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ should be a shorter MCU movie

Based on early reviewsThor: Love and Thunder is even more fun than its predecessor. Perhaps a reason for this is its tighter running time. While the time-hopping events of Avengers: Endgame and the epic scope of Eternals might warrant longer running times, not every superhero movie — MCU or otherwise — needs as much time to tell its story.

Since Thor: Love and Thunder is the fourth film in its series, moviegoers don’t need to acclimate themselves to a new environment or new characters. Most of the principal cast is comprised of stars from previous MCU projects, with few exceptions. And with no apparent heavy lifting to do for the overall MCU mythos, Waititi likely honed in on Thor’s personal journey this time around.

Should the MCU keep making tighter, more independent movies?

thor love thunder runtime
Chris Hemsworth attends the Sydney premiere of Thor: Love And Thunder at Hoyts Entertainment Quarter on June 27, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

Does that mean the MCU should always stick to making movies under two hours long? Not necessarily. If a film has a lot of heavy lifting to do for the overall trajectory of the MCU — as was the case with Avengers: Endgame — or introduces fans to a whole new world – like Black Panther – then a longer runtime isn’t only understandable. It might very well be necessary to tell that given story effectively. Imagine Spider-Man: No Way Home, for instance, squeezing all those characters and the big-screen introduction of the multiverse into less than two hours.

But Thor: Love and Thunder does neither. As its predecessor established, Asgard isn’t a place; it’s a people. And audiences spent multiple films with Hemsworth’s Thor and his allies. It doesn’t have to answer long-standing questions. Even Thor: Ragnarok incorporated Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and elements of the Planet Hulk storyline from Marvel Comics. Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t the first time fans met the God of Thunder. And it probably won’t be the last either.

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