Going into “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” I almost felt a little dirty. After the finality of “Avengers: Endgame” it felt as though Marvel movies should be over. Where do you go from such a bombastic finale?
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” not only anticipated this feeling and reminded me that there is still so much more to explore with this world and its characters, but the film also very resolutely affirmed that the next generation of heroes is here and that the MCU is in good hands. The film represents a changing of the guard in the best way. So, once again, all aboard the Marvel hype train!
The world is forever changed following the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Peter Parker must face the question of whether or not he is ready to step up and follow in the footsteps of Tony Stark or take his shot for a normal, “friendly neighborhood” life. Either way, new threats are here, and Peter Parker’s European class vacation just got a lot more complicated.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Cobie Smulders and Zendaya. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” director Jon Watts returns for this action-packed, super fun sequel (and 23rd entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” recognizes its own weightiness as the entry point of a new era in the MCU. The figure of Tony Stark looms large in the film. Literally. Reminders of that legacy and Stark’s impact are everywhere, serving both as an emotional focal point for Peter Parker (Holland) and as a nod for all of us fans who have been there from “Iron Man” to now.
As Nick Fury (Jackson) very sagely reminds Peter Parker, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a coming-of-age story in the purest sense. This film is about the innocence of Peter Parker and his journey as a person that is truly growing into themselves — growing as both a hero, with broadened scope and purpose, and from a boy to a man.
Despite his heroism in the “Avengers” and Tony Stark’s faith in him, Peter Parker is still young and stumbling under the mantle that has been placed upon him. Because of this, the film is just as much about Peter’s search for a mentor and guide after losing surrogate father, of sorts, Tony Stark. Of course, this transition from boy to man and the concept of stepping up is executed to absolute perfection in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
The film does excellent and heartwrenching parallels to Tony Stark’s first moments in becoming Iron Man and we leave “Spider-Man: Far From Home” with the assurance that the future of the world (and the future of these films) has been left in capable hands.
I know that, at this point, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is sounding pretty heavy. And, in a way, that’s true. The film is very aware of its own status as the bearer of a legacy. But that doesn’t stop it from being tons of fun.
Despite its loftier messages, the film is still about a teenager struggling with typical teenager things. The parallel story of Peter Parker trying to get the girl (Zendaya as MJ) and trying to balance being a superhero with having a fun European vacation is an absolute riot! Tons of great humor and stellar performances by the supporting cast. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is all heart and warm fuzzies.
As a Marvel Studios joint, I don’t have to tell you how amazing the effects are, how rich the costumes, and how sweet the soundtrack is. Those boxes come pre-checked with all MCU releases. To be perfectly honest, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a Peter Parker movie.
Holland proves, once again, that he is too pure for this world and a perfect Peter Parker. Gyllenhaal makes a strong impact in his MCU debut and gives an incredibly nuanced performance as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and you follow the character exactly where he wants you to go.
An unexpected delight of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” were the odd little quirks and nods to possible Spider-Man storylines; Spider-Man has been through many iterations, in countless mediums, and it’s fun to see Marvel playing with the possibilities. The film KNOWS that the character has a fanbase and honors that by bringing in favorite elements from the entire history of the character, not just the version we know in the current MCU. It’s nice to see Marvel so confident that they’re willing to play and pay homage.
All of that being said, here’s my verdict on “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
The film feels like it exists on a threshold. Coming off of something as huge as “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” feels small and anticlimactic. It occupies this odd position of being both a jumping off point and a swan song. The presence of Iron Man and the first arc of films really hangs on this movie. It’s like we’re moving on from a breakup. Which, on one hand, makes sense because there is some expected mourning, but on the other hand, “Avengers: Endgame” did its own tying up of loose ends.
It makes me wonder how long the sentimentality for the original Avengers will linger in the MCU.
While “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a little awkward and a little messy, it is still an incredibly fun film and an absolutely essential moment of development and character study for Peter Parker. More importantly, it establishes Spider-Man as the center of the new era and firmly places him in the leadership role formerly held by Tony Stark. That is reason enough for me to give it an enthusiastic recommendation… and everything else that I mentioned is reason for me to recommend it warmly.
The film ends on a high-stakes note that plays like a bugle, heralding the official kick-off to MCU 2.0. Exciting stuff. And I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but stay for both post-credit scenes. The implications are mind-blowing.
[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!]
The following contains spoilers for “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
Last chance to click away… okay. I wanna talk about Mysterio.
In spite of Gyllenhaal’s performance, Mysterio is a bit of a dud. The character undergoes a radical change from angsty outcast of the entertainment industry (as he appears in the comics) to vengeful techno-terrorist with deep Stark Industries connections and a beef with Tony Stark that is oddly reminiscent of the conflict in “Iron Man 3.” It’s all a little on the nose.
What disappoints me about this deviation is that a film that absolutely should be focused on the future and on Peter Parker now walks the razor’s edge of secretly still being about Iron Man. The film clumsily crams Mysterio into that temporary role of “Is this Peter’s new mentor?” and uses that as an obvious route to a pretty bland villain story. The design is beautiful and, again, Gyllenhaal is doing the most so I can’t say that I hate it… just that it wasn’t the strongest showing.
I feel that, regrettably, Mysterio will join The Mandarin, the Dark Elves and Yellowjacket in the annals of forgettable MCU villains.
Also in Spoiler Land, two extremely exciting developments:
- Fan prayers everywhere were answered when Marvel put J.K. Simmons back into his iconic role as J. Jonah Jameson of “The Daily Bugle.” (Which undergoes an Info Wars-esque makeover that I’m honestly excited about. It’s perfect.)
- The future of the MCU is in space. We understand that it’s where half of the current Avengers are and the final post-credits scene with Nick Fury confirms that S.H.I.E.L.D. has turned its gaze to the stars.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” swings into theaters July 2nd!
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Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.