Stop trying to force shared universe movie franchises

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By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

Last weekend, I saw “The Batman.” There were many things I liked and a few things that I didn’t, but overall, I thought it was a very solid film. It was refreshing and unlike many superhero movies I have seen recently.

It was a beautifully shot, thrilling, story-focused film that did justice to its source material. Best of all, it wasn’t a part of an already-established cinematic universe and wasn’t preoccupied with trying to set up future films (yes, I know there will be sequels and spinoff shows from “The Batman” — I’ll get to that later).

First off, let me say that I do love (most) of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I am unbelievably excited for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and will probably see it in the theater four times.

While the MCU broke barriers by creating a shared universe of films and had copycats aplenty trying to emulate them, I feel like Marvel of late has begun to get stale. The films all follow extremely similar formulas, contain bland cinematography and feature more computer-generated shots than real ones. Sure, the movies are fun, but they feel more like amusement park rides than films. They are more focused on the superhero spectacle and fan service than story, and in my mind, story is the most important part of a film.

The best superhero stories are the ones that focus on telling a story about superheroes rather than setting up future crossovers and trying to fit the film into a larger narrative. “Watchmen” is a prime example of this; it is set in a unique, interesting universe that has intriguing themes and tells a fantastic story.

While “The Batman” is getting sequels and spinoffs, none of it felt unnecessary or forced (apart from a small character cameo at the end). “Joker” is another great story-based comic book movie focused on story, and it even won an Oscar for its dedication to story and character. “Logan,” while a culmination of all of Hugh Jackman’s X-Men films, is a fantastic send-off for the character.

Movies should be about a story, not money. What I loved most about “The Batman” was how the movie felt like a one-off, completely different from any Batman movie that came before. Many of the best comic book storylines are one-off graphic novels that use superheroes and their worlds to tell great stories. Now, all the movies need to do is stop focusing on the future and focus on character and making a great film.