Review: Spider-Man Far From Home
I do not own any of these images - via IMDB.com
Spider-Man: Far From Home released on 2/07/2019 Starring Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Samuel L Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau Directed by Jon Watts
“Peter Parker returns in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the next chapter of the Spider-Man: Homecoming series! Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter's plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent!”
This review contains minor spoilers. Contains major Avengers: Endgame spoilers.
Far From Home sees Spidey in a post-Endgame world: he is still mourning over the death of his mentor Tony Stark, but has to accept the scary fact that he is one of Earth’s last protectors following the events of Endgame: Peter Parker still considers himself a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, and isn’t sure he can fill Iron Man’s shoes. Far From Home can be considered both as an epilogue to the Infinity Saga and a new chapter of the MCU: it briefly showcases the repercussions of ‘The Blip’ (half the population resurrected 5 years after the events of Infinity War) in a comedic and lighthearted way, and acts as a sort of palate-cleanser following the weighty events of Endgame.
Far From Home is adventurous, fun, and charming; a film which perfectly intertwines high-school life with superhero responsibilities, effortlessly swinging from humorous and awkward student escapades to more dramatic action. What stands out the most in FFH is the impressive, engaging and inventive cinematic visuals (thanks to the introduction of Mysterio) which take the audience on a surreal and immersive Matrix-esque ride that they won’t forget any time soon.
A Post Endgame World & Spidey’s Internal Conflict
Instead of pondering over the consequences of The Snap and The Blip, the two catastrophic events which led to the decimation of half of the universe, FFH chose not to directly discuss it too much. The film kicks off with a student made In Memoriam Avengers tribute, followed by a brief explanation of The Blip: everyone who turned to dust five years ago returned, having not aged a single day. Various characters mention it through-out the film, however it is almost always approached in a comedic way which is refreshing and welcome after Infinity War & Endgame. The more sombre consequences of these events is instead translated through Peter’s anxiety over the future: who is going to lead the Avengers now? Who will protect the citizens of Earth now? Can he do it? Should he? Peter Parker struggles to deal with the expectations others have of him, especially Tony Stark’s, whom he is constantly reminded of thanks to the countless shrines dedicated to him worldwide:
Tony Stark is dead, but his memory literally looms large in Far From Home. Peter (once again energetically played by the irrepressibly likable Tom Holland) is frequently within sight of some shrine to or oversized image of his fallen mentor, the hero who gave his life to stop Thanos. Peter struggles to be who Tony wanted him to be even as he remains painfully aware that he’s just a local hero — or, at least he’d prefer to stay that way, his recent cosmic adventures notwithstanding […] - Jim Vejvoda, IGN.com
Peter’s internal conflict is the heart of Far From Home. His duty as an Avenger is more crucial than ever now that several of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are gone, and whereas before he was quite content in being more of a secondary-Avenger of sorts, now he does not have that luxury. His wish to remain a local superhero who can still enjoy being a teenager now seems impossible, even if Mysterio allows him to linger in that delusion for a brief moment. Peter just wants to go on a summer vacation with his fellow high-school mates and tell MJ how he feels about her, but instead he is forced to confront this new reality where his mentor is no longer there to guide him when a new Avengers-level threat arises. After all, he is experienced in big-scale battles and intergalactic warfare, and the events of FFH require him to put these past experiences and skills to the test to see whether or not he is a worthy successor to Tony Stark. With all that being said, FFH makes it clear that our Spider-Man still has a lot to learn. His masked identity works against him: people don’t see the young, vulnerable teenager beneath the mask. Once again Tom Holland gives another great performance as Peter Parker: from awkward teen to frustrated superhero, it is simply impossible not to like him.
Tony Stark’s influence, even in death, remains stronger than ever: after all, the MCU have accentuated the mentor-protégé relationship between the two since Spider-Man’s first appearance in Civil War, so it’s only natural that his death would be strongly felt in Far From Home. This film firmly hints that Peter Parker could eventually become Iron Man: Peter’s Iron Spider Suit, Tony’s glasses, Peter working in a mini-lab with Tony’s favourite music playing… Many may be concerned about this: Peter Parker is his own person, his own hero, and perhaps the film doesn’t push this enough. I expect that we will see Spider-Man step out of Tony’s shadow in future instalments - he will continue to learn from his fallen mentor, but like most protégés, he will outgrow him in time.
Introducing Mysterio: illusions, smoke and mirrors
Minor Spoilers Ahead. The villainous Mysterio is a great, traditional comic-book foe: he likes Peter Parker but when the time comes he preys on his innocence and good-hearted nature. He exploits his weaknesses to achieve his goal - almost begrudgingly (at first). FFH ultimately fails to develop Mysterio’s personal backstory further but still succeeds in creating a cool villain. Through Mysterio’s abilities, the filmmakers were able to explore creative, immersive illusion visuals (which were completely different from the world-bending-reality-warping sequences in Doctor Strange on an aesthetic level). These action sequences were different from anything we’ve seen in MCU, and the climactic final fight sequence perfectly showcased Peter’s spidey-senses (or “Peter tingle”) in a gloriously cinematic manner, something that had not been done previously in the other Spider-Man franchises.
The introduction of Mysterio once again demonstrates the MCU’s ability to weave elements from previous story-lines together into a comprehensible plot: this time, side-line characters from the Iron Man trilogy resurface to take back what they think they deserve. FFH also commentates on the state of humanity following the events of the past few years - the citizens of Earth will accept almost anything as truth nowadays: Gods are no longer myths, aliens exist so why wouldn’t they believe in Mysterio’s story?
Balancing teen awkwardness & superhero duty
Although FFH tackles Peter’s internal battles (superhero duty & teen romance), the misadventures of high-school students on vacation around Europe is equally vital to the film’s success. The energetic and loveable Tom Holland is surrounded by a strong supporting cast: MJ (delightfully played by Zendaya) has a much bigger presence in this sequel, and Jacob Batalon and Tony Revolori’s characters execute their comedic lines without fault. FFH offered an honest depiction of high-school life and the interactions between them were delightful to watch.
There is so much more I could discuss here (meta, illusions, the psychological aspect, Fury, how this fits in to the larger MCU world etc) but for the sake of keeping this a spoiler-free review and not a super-duper in depth essay, I’ll stop here and leave you with the promise that more articles on Far From Home will be shared soon.
Spider-Man: Far From Home tackles the question of who will lead the new generation of Avengers: Peter Parker will undoubtedly do so someday, but he is isn’t there yet - and that’s okay. This sequel is a delightful, fun and adventurous new chapter in the every-growing MCU book. Visually, it is possibly the best live-action Spider-Man yet, so see it on the biggest screen you can. Michael Giacchino blesses us with a wondrous, energetic and exciting score, slotting in perfectly with the upbeat feel of the film and taking it to new heights.
The surprising cliff-hanger post-credits scene ending begs the question of what will happen to everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man next, and I for one, can not wait.