The only thing tougher than defeating Thanos may be sitting through “Avengers: Endgame” without needing to use the bathroom.
long-anticipated superhero blockbuster, which officially opened Friday (after breaking records a day earlier), is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s longest movie yet, clocking in at a walloping three hours and one minute (not counting the coming attractions shown beforehand). The sequel to last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” juggernaut, which ended on a cliffhanger that saw half of the universe’s population wiped out with a snap of galactic warlord Thanos’s fingers, is also the culmination of the 22 previous Marvel movies (including the “Iron Man,” “Captain America” and “Thor” series, as well as “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel”) spanning the past decade.
A lot is riding on this movie, which has enjoyed record presales and is expected to earn between $250 million and $268 million in North America alone, if not more, over its opening weekend. And fans don’t want to miss a minute — especially those who might shell out $500 on eBay for tix to sold-out showings — but 181 minutes can be a long time without a run to the rest room.
So viewers are fretting about which moments might be “safe” for a quick dash to the john under the hashtag #whenshouldipee, and sharing strategies like dehydrating themselves or joking about wearing diapers to prevent missing a climactic scene because nature has called.
“You need to plan potty breaks in a 3 hour #AvengersEndgame movie. Eat salty popcorn and skip the drinks just in case,” tweeted one.
And a few lucky early birds who were able to see screenings ahead of the Friday opening have also poured on the advice — or patted themselves on the backs for watching the entire movie in one sitting.
Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and author of “A Seat on the Aisle, Please! The Essential Guide to Urinary Tract Problems in Women,” shared with MarketWatch her tips for making it through “Endgame” without a bathroom break.
1. Don’t eat or drink anything an hour or two before the movie starts. And you’ll definitely want to skip drinking a soda or a coffee during the show. (Bad news for concessions stands!) “If you drink any kind of sugary or caffeinated beverages, that is going to increase the irritability of the bladder, and of course the volume of fluid that the bladder winds up getting,” she warned.
2. Don’t overhydrate during the day, period. “Most people drink way more than they need,” said Kavaler. “There is no fixed amount of fluid that all of us should consume. And what each person needs is dependent upon many, many factors, and changes from day to day.” Sipping water at each meal, and any time that you feel thirsty, is enough to keep most people hydrated. Plus, about 20% of your daily water intake comes from the fruits, veggies and other beverages you consume.
3. Use the bathroom right before those Marvel opening titles roll. “It’s good to go to the bathroom before you go into the theater, to make sure that your bladder is empty,” said Kavaler. She said that if you normally sleep seven or eight hours a night without needing to get up to urinate, and you can hold it for a few hours during the day, then you should be fine. “A healthy young person should be able to easily hold their urine for three hours and not have a problem,” she said.
4. Bring a sweater. “When it’s cold, we tend to tense up, and that will make you urinate,” explained Kavaler. “So if the movie theater is running the air conditioning on high to keep everyone awake, bringing a sweater or something will keep you from feeling cold” and a resultant need to use the bathroom.
But if you feel the urge to make a bathroom run:
Relax — you won’t hurt yourself if you hold it. “It might hurt and feel uncomfortable if you hold it in, but you are not going to damage your bladder,” assured Kavaler. Again, the bladder can hold seven or eight hours’ worth of urine while you’re sleeping, after all. “Eventually you’ll go to the bathroom, and it won’t hurt anymore.”
Sit on an aisle seat if you can, just in case. If you are truly worried that you can’t make it through the movie — or perhaps you have urinary problems or are pregnant, so you need to use the bathroom a lot — she suggests sitting toward the aisle (or selecting aisle seats when ordering reserved seats in advance) so that you can get up and go without awkwardly having to move past half a row of people.
Scarlett Johansson, who plays Black Widow, said Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, suggested wearing a diaper. “Then you don’t have to get up,” she said. “But you’re also sitting in your own urine.”
Paul Rudd (a.k.a. Ant-Man) had another icky idea: “Well, not having seen the film, I would say get one of those giant tubs of popcorn, and then just like lower it under the seat in the middle of the movie.”
Look, if you’ve really got to go, then just go. “Getting up and missing three minutes of the movie is probably not the worst thing in the world,” said Dr. Kavaler. “And people are going to be watching this movie two or three times, so you can always just watch it again.”
Dr. Kavaler added that if you are stressed about it, and you haven’t already spoken to a doctor, “you may have a problem [overactive bladder, or a UTI] and should see a urologist about it.”