Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Far From Home Takes Spider-Man To Great, New Places
At the end of the day, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a fun superhero action/adventure movie. It's got great spectacle, great characters, and a great deal of heart to it. It's yet another solid entry into the MCU, and a good wrap-up of the Infinity saga, while also a good launching point for the next phase of the Marvel Universe. It doesn't quite reach the heights of Infinity War or Endgame, but it is a step above movies like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange (and a huge improvement over Captain Marvel, for certain).
Spider-Man: Far From Home is both a sequel to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and a denouement to the Infinity War saga. This means that while it continues and expands upon the characters and storylines that were introduced in Homecoming, it also gives us a look at the aftermath of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Avengers: Endgame, while setting the stage for what is to come in the next phase of the MCU.
In staying true to the spirit of Spider-Man, Far From Home is a light and whimsical adventure with plenty of action and humor in it, along with a great deal of heart. It also keeps alive the tradition of piling on poor Peter Parker in his civilian life, as nothing ever seems to go right for him while he tries to balance a healthy secret identity with the trials and tribulations of being a superhero.
One of the most impressive parts of Far From Home is that the Peter Parker story is just as interesting and engaging as the Spider-Man story, much like it was in Homecoming. Too often in Spider-Man movies, the “Peter Parker” aspect can weigh down the film and get in the way of the more interesting Spider-Man stuff. But here, a good balance is struck, as Peter’s friends and relationships are all very well developed and interesting to watch.
A big part of Far From Home’s “Peter Plot” has to do with him trying to win the affection of the MJ character (played by actress Zendaya). And while Homecoming’s “teen crush” storyline with Liz wasn’t all that engaging, the one here with MJ seems to work – probably because MJ is a more interesting character than Liz was. Plus, the stuff with Peter’s best friend Ned and Betty Brant is fantastic, as these two characters round out the “Spidey” crew in high school.
Indeed, much of what seems to make Far From Home work is the “teen angst” aspect, which is awkward, heartwarming, and relatable. It’s also the source of a great deal of the humor in the movie. But the biggest aspect which gives the movie its heart is Spider-Man’s relationship with Tony Stark.
Since Captain America: Civil War, the character of Tony Stark has taken on the “surrogate father” figure to Peter Parker. Though traditionally, the character of Uncle Ben was the real catalyst which drove Peter to be a hero, in the revamped MCU version of Spider-Man, that role has been largely filled by Tony. And with Tony’s sacrifice at the end of Endgame, his death is far more poignant than Uncle Ben’s (especially considering that we never got to see Uncle Ben or get a sense of his relationship with MCU’s Peter).
Much of Far From Home is about seeing how the world is reacting to the sacrifice Tony Stark made to save them from Thanos, but none feel that sacrifice as acutely as Peter. Not only does he miss and mourn the loss of his mentor and surrogate father, but he also feels the burden of having to “step up” and fill the shoes of the hero that Iron Man was to the world, and for a 16 year old kid, the prospect of that is incredibly daunting.
While Far From Home hits all the right notes in terms of theme, tone, and pacing, one thing it doesn’t quite get right is its central conflict. One of the interesting things about Spider-Man is that his villains are rarely the type that actually threaten the world, and this smaller-in-scale aspect often serves to make the conflict with them more personal. This trend continues in Far From Home as Spider-Man bonds with the mysterious Mysterio – a new supposed hero from an alternate Earth who has come to fight destructive Elementals who have found their way to the MCU Earth.
Though Mysterio ends up being a fine adversary to Peter, and it is interesting to see their relationship develop in the first half of the film, the “big reveal” behind Mysterio (while expected if you know anything about the comic book version of the character) is still anti-climactic and ultimately a little disappointing. That being said, there is no lack for spectacle in Far From Home, as the film has numerous action set-pieces to enjoy – even if they aren’t all as emotionally resonate as they should be.
From here on, I’ll be diving into spoilers for the film, so if you wish to avoid these, simply do not expand the SPOILER area below.
A great twist (and even greater surprise) comes in the first after-credit scene of the film, where it’s revealed that The Daily Bugle is now a fringe internet news channel and J Jonah Jameson is an Alex Jones-esque character who angrily hurls fake news and conspiracy theories around for the sake of getting views and pushing his own agenda. But even better is that Marvel has re-cast actor JK Simmons, who played J Jonah Jameson to perfection in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, to embody the role. I must admit, I actually cheered with Simmons made his appearance. Simply no other actor could pull off the pomposity of Jameson, at least in my book.
But the stunning reveal of Spider-Man’s secret identity to the world by Jameson was a great twist, and certainly sets up a wonderful obstacle that Peter Parker is going to have to deal with going forward. It will undoubtedly have an impact not only on the character of Spider-Man, but at the world at large as well – especially now that Spider-Man has been cast as a criminal instead of a hero.
But an even BIGGER twist was in the final after-credits scene with the reveal of the Skrulls, the shape-shifting aliens from Captain Marvel, who it appears are working with SHIELD and Nick Fury on some super-secret project in outer space. What this project is, is anyone’s guess at the moment. However, it’s obviously hinting at what is going to be the next big central conflict of the new phase of the MCU. Could it be the Kree/Scrull war? Or something else entirely? Who’s to say at this point? All I know is that I am sufficiently intrigued.
And while it was cool to see Ben Mendelsohn back as the Skrull leader Talos, it was a bit disappointing to know that the Nick Fury and Maria Hill we had seen throughout Far From Home were actually impostors. (Though I guess that explains why Nick Fury seemed to be such a bumbling buffoon throughout most of the movie.)
There was a kind-of funny dig on Captain Marvel in the film, where Nick Fury (aka Talos) tells Peter not to speak “that name” when he asks why Captain Marvel can’t be called on to help fight the Elementals. Whether this was meant as a dig at the character of Captain Marvel, or simply a throw-away line meant to justify her absence in dealing with a potentially world-ending threat, is up in the air. But it was a funny line, and the ambiguity surrounding it was a nice touch.
Another very strong aspect of the movie were the extremely well-defined relationships between the characters. The budding romance between Happy and Aunt May was well done and cute. Ned’s “summer fling” with Betty was fantastic and funny. Even Peter’s rivalry with the character of Brad for the affections of MJ was good. But finally seeing the romance between Peter and MJ come to fruition was the real payoff of this movie. Not only does MJ learn of Peter’s secret identity, but her participation in his adventures adds a fun new dynamic to “team Spidey” that was missing when it was just Ned who was involved. And the great thing about the MJ/Peter romance is just how awkward it is. It really does a great job of capturing that classic “teen angst” feeling that is both cute and heartwarming at the same time.
Probably the most interesting thing that Far From Home does in terms of MCU lore is establish what happened when those Thanos killed were brought back to life. The event has been dubbed “The Blink”, and we actually get to see how everyone was returned to life and the fallout of what happened after half the world’s population came back. Thanks to Far From Home, we get to see the “street level” effect the Avenger’s actions in Endgame had. It was a nice bookend for the Infinity saga, in my view.
However, I did have to wonder what has happened to the world’s superheroes that SHIELD is forced to co-op Spider-Man for a potentially world-ending event. If Endgame is anything to go by, there are plenty of superheroes and Avengers still left on Earth. Though Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and Vision are gone, and Thor is off-world with the Guardians of the Galaxy, there should still be heroes like Hulk, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Falcon/New Cap to assist in these types of situations, right? I mean, they did bother to explain why Thor, Doctor Strange, and Captain Marvel couldn’t help out. But what about Black Panther? The Wakandan army? Iron Sable? Hawkeye? Winter Soldier? What are they doing?
I also found Mysterio’s plan to co-opt the STARK defense network from Peter a tad convoluted. I mean, a LOT had to go right in order to get Peter to want to hand over control of it to Mysterio. But, whatever, I can go with it, despite such a plan being a tad contrived.
At the end of the day, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a fun superhero action/adventure movie. It’s got great spectacle, great characters, and a great deal of heart to it. It’s yet another solid entry into the MCU, and a good wrap-up of the Infinity saga, while also a good launching point for the next phase of the Marvel Universe. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of Infinity War or Endgame, but it is a step above movies like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange (and a huge improvement over Captain Marvel, for certain).
I’d definitely recommend checking this movie out. Despite a few minor quibbles in terms of its central conflict, all the elements for a good Spider-Man movie are present, and you will not be bored with this film. It gets a solid 3 1/2 stars out of 5 from me.
Have you seen Spider-Man: Far From Home? What did you think of it? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!