Moving into Phase 4, MCU fans have become enamored with the runtimes of the latest outings across both theaters and Disney+. Both Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness were bombarded with backlash for only clocking in close to the two-hour mark, while Disney+ viewers continue to call for full hour-long episodes.
Generally, most of the MCU’s Disney+ episodes have clocked in between 40 and 50 minutes, but there have been exceptions. What If…?’s stories tended to clock in under that range, as most animated series tend to, while WandaVision also had many episodes run shorter due to starting off in a sitcom format as opposed to a drama.
As She-Hulk: Attorney at Law comes around, Marvel Studios is tackling a brand-new format as it produces a half-hour legal comedy. But even with this format being promised from the beginning, and being pivotal to the series’ structure, a newly-broken Disney+ record has led to backlash on social media.
She-Hulk’s Disney+ Record Makes Fans Angry
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Episode 2 broke a frustrating MCU Disney+ record as the legal-comedy clocked in with the shortest installment that Marvel Studios has brought to the streaming service – excluding the I Am Groot shorts.
Episode 2, “Superhuman Law,” ran at 30:26 in the U.S., seven minutes shorter than Episode 1, “A Normal Amount of Rage,” which ran for 37:31. She-Hulk was marketed from the beginning as a 30-minute legal comedy.
The record was previously held by WandaVision Episode 1, which clocked in at 30:51. The reality-bending sitcom produced several shorter entries due to its comedy nature which included Episode 3 at 34:00 and Episode 4 at 36:05.
The animated anthology What If…? also produced several shorter entries – Nick Fury’s murder mystery came to 34:26, the undead epic clocked in at 33:45, and Ultron’s takeover ran at 31:36.
Looking at the shortest episode of every other MCU Disney+ series, most run far longer than either of She-Hulk‘s entries to date. But it’s important to note that most were billed as a one-hour drama as opposed to a 30-minute comedy:
- WandaVision Episode 1 – 30:51
- The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 1 – 50:44
- Loki Episode 3 – 43:21
- What If…? Episode 8 – 31:36
- Hawkeye Episode 4 – 41:18
- Moon Knight Episode 6 – 44:49
- Ms. Marvel Episode 5 – 40:41
Many fans have expressed outrage at She-Hulk‘s episode runtimes on Twitter, including @imhectornavarro, who called for the installments to be longer due to its weekly releases:
“She-Hulk episodes are too short. Especially for a weekly tv show.”
@scarletrilogy similarly pointed out how the latest episode particularly “felt so short:”
“This episode of she-hulk felt so short. I was so sad when the credits started playing.”
@pabloaltman shared their desire for the show to have hour-long episodes as opposed to the current length:
“the she-hulk episode was extremely short wtf i want 1 hour episodes fr.”
@KotaBearzz praised Episode 2 as “very good” but exclaimed how they “want more:”
“Ep. 2 of She-Hulk is very good but wayyyy too short. I WANT MORE.”
@Vaughanilla_Ice gave a more elaborate explanation of their complaints, that included the visuals and runtimes:
“At this moment, my only complaints with She-Hulk are that the episodes feel too short and she sometimes looks like a cartoon character. Idk if she’s motion captured or not, but she feels a bit too animated to feel real.”
@HailEternal also pointed out how the episodes “are too short,” but said in a follow-up tweet that “they aren’t really [and they] just want more She-Hulk.”
The runtimes of Episodes 3 and 4 have already been released and will improve on the latest chapter as they clock in at 27:03 and 28:34 excluding credits, respectively. For comparison, the second installment clocks in at 22:53 when its extensive credits are removed.
Will Marvel’s Runtime Controversy Ever End?
Even 15 live-action projects into Phase 4, runtimes continue to be at the heart of the discussion of every new release. I Am Groot was marketed from the beginning as a series of five shorts and even that faced this controversy; She-Hulk is now in a similar situation, despite the half-hour length being at the core of its format.
Yes, certain projects should have had longer runtimes or more episodes to flesh out their stories better and avoid being rushed. Doctor Strange 2 and Thor 4 arguably needed more time to explore their stories and characters in proper depth, and several of the Disney+ series have suffered from rushed endings.
But to put it simply, there is no “one-size fits all” metric for how long an episode or movie should be. Creatives should be free to stretch or condense their tales as they see fit, instead of being forced to drag out stories to match this mythical gold standard invented by the fandom, as that leads to other pacing issues.
Who knows whether this problem will ever fade away in the fandom, but Marvel Studios’ announcement of an 18-episode first season for Daredevil: Born Again suggests they are aware of the problem. Perhaps that may lead to more shows playing around with longer seasons down the line, as opposed to longer episodes.
The first two episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.
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