This March, viewers will get to enjoy Gotham City a little longer than usual. Deadline revealed today that The Batman, Matt Reeves’ gritty take on the Dark Knight, will clock in at 167 minutes. That’s the longest Batman film yet, with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises the previous record holder at 165 minutes.
Starring Robert Pattinson as the titular hero, The Batman will need every minute it can get as it serves as a new beginning for the DC hero after years of false starts and relatively unimpressive DC Extended Universe appearances. Set shortly after the Caped Crusader has established his unique brand of vigilante justice, the film chronicles Bruce Wayne’s initial encounters with the mysterious Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Colin Farrell’s Bugsy Siegel-like mobster the Penguin, and Paul Dano’s the Riddler, who is revamped to look and act more like the Zodiac killer than the traditionally comical villain that Jim Carrey immortalized in Batman Forever. Joining Batman in his quest to eradicate crime is Jeffrey Wright’s beleaguered James Gordon and Andy Serkis as Bruce Wayne’s faithful (and in the film’s trailer, increasingly horrified) butler, Alfred Pennyworth.
With three confirmed villains, a new continuity, and a large cast, it’s understandable that Reeves would need nearly three hours to tell his tale and reboot a valuable brand for both WB and future owner Discovery. In comparison, Tim Burton’s first Batman film in 1989 was a slim 126 minutes, while Joel Schumacher needed only 120 minutes to establish his campy spin on the DC hero in 1995’s Batman Forever. At 140 minutes, Christopher Nolan required more time than his predecessors to redefine the Dark Knight in Batman Begins as he featured two villains (Ra’s al Ghul and the Scarecrow) and a relatively complex origin story. As a sequel to Man of Steel, a team-up between two iconic DC heroes, and a prequel to Justice League, Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 crammed a lot of exposition (and large amounts of unconvincing CGI) into its 152 minutes in an ultimately futile attempt to launch the DC Extended Universe.
While The Batman is the longest Batman film to date, it’s not the longest superhero movie ever. That honor goes to Zach Snyder’s Justice League, the extended cut of the heavily reshot 2017 original. At 242 minutes, the film will most likely keep that distinction until the inevitable (and still imaginary) Avengers vs. Justice League movie in 2045.
The Batman is scheduled to premiere in theatres on March 4, 2022. After its 45-day exclusive theatrical run, the film will debut on HBO Max on April 19.
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