(DISCLAIMER: Due to the nature of Spider-Man: Far From Home, spoilers for Avengers: Endgame will be present in this review. If you are, for some reason, interested enough in the MCU to read this review but not interested enough to see the biggest movie of the year within the first two months of its release, you have been warned.)
After over a decade onscreen, audiences said goodbye to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) at the end of Avengers: Endgame with his young protege, Spider-Man (Tom Holland), by his side. Spider-Man: Far From Home picks up where Endgame ended. This is our first look at the MCU without its resident “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” The uncertainty surrounding what’s next leaves a lot riding on Far From Home‘s shoulders. The film, like its young protagonist, is up to the task.
Post-Endgame, the world is in mourning. What happens to the remaining Avengers? Who will be their figurehead? Did Earth lose its mightiest heroes? It’s not just the average, every day citizen that is feeling this way. Spider-Man, himself, is lost and feeling without direction. Tony was his mentor, his guide, and his friend. Tony believed in Peter Parker the hero and Peter Parker the person. He pushed Peter Parker to be more so that Spider-Man could do more. Losing that source of influence has taken its toll. Needing to take a nice, long break from saving the world (three hours of doing that can get tiring), Peter goes on a class trip to Europe, without his Spidey suit. He’s just a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man, after all. Europe won’t be needing his signature web shooters and one liners. What could go wrong?
“Tony believed in Peter Parker the hero and Peter Parker the person. He pushed Peter Parker to be more so that Spider-Man could do more.”
Roughly three minutes after they stepped foot in Venice, something goes wrong. A monster, made up of water from the river, begins destroying the city surrounding it. Peter is stuck between not wanting to do something and know that he has to do something. Before he even makes up his mind, a mysterious new hero, aptly named Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), arrives on the scene to help take down the monster. After the battle, Mysterio explains to Peter that this is just the beginning. The water monster is only one monster comprised of the classical elements. The next one due to strike is made up of fire. If it becomes too powerful, it could potentially destroy the Earth. Teaming up with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), the two set out on their plan to prevent unfathomable consequences.
Aaaand that’s all you’ll get from me. Speaking any more about the main plot will only spoil the fun. And trust me, there is a LOT of fun to be had.
The truth is, this current iteration of Spider-Man is the most perfect version yet. Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst were in great films… Sorry, let me rephrase. Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst were in *two* great films, in which they were the worst aspects. Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone, on the other hand, were diamonds in the rough. “The rough” being The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man: Homecoming and now Spider-Man: Far From Home show that sometimes all it takes for a movie to be good is to have characters that the audience cares about. Who would have thought?
“The truth is, this current iteration of Spider-Man is the most perfect version yet.”
What I love about both Homecoming and Far From Home is that they feel like two movies in one. A lot of times that phrase is used as a complaint – as in the movie was lopsided. When talking about Spider-Man, I could not mean it as higher praise. This new series is the perfect blend of high school and superhero movie. We care about what’s happening, not because we should, but because we care about the people involved and the situations they are going through and everything that is at stake. The filmmakers do an excellent job at balancing the story and the characters with the action. It’d be easy to push the script to the side and focus on the big action set pieces that will be used in the trailers to sell the movie. It’s refreshing to see a summer blockbuster that is not content with doing that.
When he isn’t web swinging, Peter is an average highschooler. He and his best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), are still lovable dorks. But between the stress of being an American in the public school system and being a superhero, Peter is having trouble deciding what he wants. He does know that he wants to be more than friends with MJ (Zendaya) and spends a lot of the movie looking for the perfect opportunity to tell her how he feels. Holland and Zendaya share a subtle but natural chemistry that makes you truly root for their relationship. Both have their quirks – Peter is awkward and MJ is unabashedly weird – and the two actors showcase these quirks in such endearing ways that it’s easy to understand why one likes the other.
“Holland and Zendaya share a subtle but natural chemistry that makes you truly root for their relationship.”
Among newcomers, Gyllenhaal fits in nicely with the rest of the cast. He plays up the mysterious nature of his character really well and, once he gets comfortable, he brings a weird, frenetic energy to the film. I knew nothing of the character going in to the film. Seeing him brought to life by Gyllenhaal in a performance that, like onions and like ogres, is full of layers, helps me understand why so many have been so excited for his portrayal. I shouldn’t be surprised, as Gyllenhaal is one of the finest actors of his generation. Watching him chew the scenery in a Marvel film is something I was not prepared for and something that I did not know I needed.
The cast, although impressive, is not the only thing to love about Spider-Man: Far From Home. Like Homecoming, the script is the star. In addition to breathing life into the characters and their backgrounds, there are so many genuinely funny moments to act as comedic relief. A real issue within some comic book films is the tendency to take themselves too seriously. Spider-Man wants to have fun and wants its audience to have fun with it. Beyond the script, the film also features a trip that is both jarring and a mesmerizing feast for the eyes – a visual spectacle – that also happens to be my favorite scene of the year so far.
“Spider-Man wants to have fun and wants its audience to have fun with it.”
Spider-Man: Far From Home marks a turning point in the MCU for many reasons. It doesn’t give a clear direction in which the universe will be headed but I believe that it is in the right hands. There is a new crop of heroes that are waiting for their time to shine and this film is just the start. Far From Home is hilarious, full of surprises, and a genuinely good time from start to finish. It’s usually not a promising sign when you leave the theater with more questions than answers. I left this movie genuinely unsure of where the Marvel Universe will go and genuinely unsure of where Spider-Man, specifically, will go. The beauty in it, this time, is that I can’t wait to find out.