Image owned by Marvel, Disney and from The Wrap (A race change that doesn’t trigger some fans(that I know of)? Imagine that!)
In some ways, Spider-Man: Far from Home, the 24th and final film in both the MCU’s third phase as well as it’s first “era” is actually better than Avengers: Endgame. I speak for myself and only myself, of course.
I am well beyond my teenage years, though more often than I’d like, it doesn’t feel that long ago. I did not have a teenage high school experience like Peter Parker’s when it comes to the “normal” stuff.
For one, Peter and company largely make up a generation below me, Generation Z. How I pity thee for the hell the generations above my own have largely set in place for them and my own. Not even a real Spider-Man could be enough alone.
Age difference aside, I feel truly caught by the web of Tom Holland’s tenure as Spider-Man. Many have since his 2016 debut argued effectively that he might be the best live action incarnation yet. To put it another way, he is becoming the Fourth or Tenth Doctor when it comes to popularity of the character. Doesn’t hurt that Holland is British despite his last name. Speaking of which, guess one country Peter ends up in during his European tour?
Far from Home continues in the John Hughes-like teen romance spirit of Homecoming while deftly avoiding many of the cringe-inducing pitfalls of the genre. On occasion, the moments with Peter out of suit and just among his friends, classmates and new potential love interest, MJ, are more arresting than the superhero action that is expected yet welcomed. Jon Watts’ direction of mixing the teen drama and the far more serious superhero drama is as deft as before, even more so considering what Spidey is in store for this time.
The world has aged five years, Peter and most of his classmates including best friend Ned and MJ have not. Thanos’ snappening of half of all life included all of them. Due to the Avengers’ decisive victory in recovering them in Endgame, those same victims are now half a decade out of whack. You thought being a teenager in normal times is hard….
The consequences of what the film humorously and questionably titles “the blip” is jokingly handwaved aside to focus only on the five year consequences for the cast we know and the much heavier loss of Tony Stark, which visually haunts Peter the whole film.
Rather than seeming like the film and the MCU is clinging on to Tony rather than moving on, it’s really Peter and who gets to take his place, not as a new Iron Man, but as the new figurehead of heroism that is the big question that remains in one form, still undecided but not as distant to the answer.
It’s a film about figuring out the new truths, like who is Peter without Tony, is MJ a better choice for his heart than Liz from last time, are his responsibilities after Endgame far too much for anyone to cope with, teen or not?
It’s also about deception big and small.
Lies, well meaning or not, twist and spread throughout the movie’s infrastructure and are among the picture’s most thought provoking themes. It’s analogy to real life deceptive practices and technology cuts deep.
Mysterio is the new main figure of the movie, played by Jake Gyllenhall, who fun fact, was originally going to be the Sam Raimi Spider-Man until Tobey Maguire snatched it from him like a webslinger should. If you know anything, and I mean, anything, about the comics fishbowl head’s from, then perhaps some of the implied spoilers I warned about aren’t really much in the way of spoilers. I mean, c’mon!
It’s really hard not to delve critically into Far from Home without acknowledging that much of Peter’s new trials are based on illusion and psychological manipulation. One particularly amazing effects scene is frankly horrifying in the sense that it seems to be suffocating Peter on multiple levels. I myself, despite knowing the basis of the three act structure, really did wonder if Peter could get out of that trippy hell he’s plunged into.
The basic gist that ties what I have mentioned together revolves a school trip over the Summer of Peter’s class on a educational journey through Europe. Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Britain, among other locales, are plagued by Peter’s superheroic woes.
Nick Fury finds and basically forces him into an dangerous mission alongside Mysterio to combat Elemental monsters from the latter’s alternate Earth. Amusingly, the Elementals from the comics are also inspired by the more comparatively recognizable Spider-foes like the Sandman, Hydro Man, Molten Man and Cyclone. This joke’s already been made, but it’s as if Captain Planet’s Planeteers have grown big and genocidal. Great fun ensues in Peter and Mysterio’s fight against them.
It’s the well designed interspersing of teen-school life drama that induces sympathy rather than apathy and the high stakes world under threat drama that makes Spider-Man: Far from Home another winner. As I was hoping would be the case since the small cues from Homecoming, Peter’s burgeoning romance with the new black MJ (Michelle Jones rather than Mary Jane) is another masterfully done component to an excellent installment. Call me a romantic but I will not be forgiving in my future remarks if Marvel somehow screws Peter and MJ up down the road.
Imagine the gall of “One More Day” on the big screen. Feige isn’t that overconfident, right?
Speaking of which….
Several moments regarding relationships, whether it be Peter and MJ, Ned and (redacted for spoilers) and Aunt May and Happy Hogan, deal with how similarities are often how relationships begin and endure despite hardships to come.
Spider-Man: Far from Home also takes pleasure in how it is actually possible to take opposites that of tone and subject matter, and make that a solid coupling too.