How long is the average Batman movies? Is there a set time for each feature-length Batman film or does it vary from picture to picture?
In this post I am taking a look at the length of 12 live-action Batman movies to see how long each film is and to determine what the average running time is across the series. The examples I am using are: Batman: The Movie (1966), Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997), Catwoman (2004), Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016) and Justice League (2017).
The ‘60s era
Let’s begin with the first feature-length adventure for the Caped Crusader, the Adam West-starring, Batman: The Movie. This film – released by 20th Century Fox – was a spin-off from the popular ‘60s Batman TV show and featured the villains, the Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and the Riddler.
The running time for this movie is as follows:
- Batman: The Movie (1966) – 104 minutes
The average length of an episode of Batman was around 25 minutes, so this big screen tale is approximately four times that number. This length is long enough to warrant the need for audiences to visit the cinema, but not too long for people to lose interest.
Between 1989 and 1997, Warner Bros. Pictures released four live-action Batman movies, beginning with Tim Burton’s Batman. The running time for each entry in the Batman Anthology is as follows:
- Batman (1989) – 126 minutes
- Batman Returns (1992) – 126 minutes
- Batman Forever (1995) – 122 minutes
- Batman & Robin (1997) – 125 minutes
As you can see, the running time of the four entries in the Batman Anthology is very similar, with each tapping out at just over the two-hour mark. The first two entries even share the same running time of 126 minutes, suggesting that Warner Bros. like to stick with the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to movie making.
When the runtimes of all four movies are combined, the average length works out to 124.75 minutes. Not surprisingly, this still favours the two-hour mark.
Now let’s add Catwoman into the mix.
The 2004 adventure film is (very) loosely connected to the Batman Anthology and clearly took some influence from this era of Batman. The running time for this is as follows:
- Catwoman (2004) – 104 minutes
When Catwoman is added to the five films in the Batman Anthology, the average runtime for all five pictures equates to 120.6 minutes. Still not much of a change, is it?
What this suggests is that during this period of time, Warner Bros. favoured a two-hour cut-off for each film.
The Dark Knight trilogy
From 2008 until 2012, Warner Bros. Pictures released three films from director Christopher Nolan. The running times for each entry in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy are:
- Batman Begins (2005) – 140 minutes
- The Dark Knight (2008) – 152 minutes
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – 165 minutes
As you can see, when compared to the entries in the Batman Anthology, the Batman films in The Dark Knight trilogy are longer. Each entry pushes beyond the two-hour mark, first by 20 minutes, then by around 30 minutes and finally by 45 minutes.
This increase in runtime suggests Warner Bros. Pictures’ growing confidence with the series. Nolan’s pictures were exciting audiences and he had more freedom to expand his story.
When all three movies are combined, the average running time across The Dark Knight trilogy works out to 152.33 minutes.
The DC Extended Universe
Now onto the DC Extended Universe, using three movies that feature Batman. The running time for each of the following Batman movies is:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – 151 minutes
- Suicide Squad (2016) – 123 minutes
- Justice League (2017) – 120 minutes
As noted above, the average running time across the three entries in The Dark Knight trilogy is 152.33 minutes. As you can see with these examples, the first Batman movie in the DCEU (Batman v Superman) is 151 minutes – only a minute shorter.
It appears that the success of The Dark Knight trilogy is a clear influence here. Whether intentional or not Warner Bros. have allowed Batman v Superman to run to a time that fits within the boundaries of what audiences are perceived to be comfortable with.
However, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was not as well-received as the films within The Dark Knight trilogy with some critics suggesting it was too long. Ironic, considering the original cut of the film – which was later released on home video – was much longer.
For the next two Batman films the runtime was drop down to around the two-hour mark. With Justice League landing bang on the nose of 120 minutes.
When all three movies are added together, the average running time is 131.33 minutes – a time much closer to the earlier films in this series.
The sum of its parts
OK, so those are all the films within their individual categories. Collectively, when all 12 are combined the average running time of the films is 129.83 minutes, which is just a touch over the two-hour mark.
So, what does this mean?
What this suggests is that Warner Bros. Pictures like to keep Batman movies to around two hours. Some films have gone over this time, but in large part each film circles this particular number.
Two hours works well for the length of each movie.