The Case For Spider-Man: Far From Home
Remember in high school when you had to give a presentation in front of the whole class? Well, if you were anything like me then you never volunteered to just get up and get it over with. You always waited until you were forced into it. And, of course, that position always seemed to go right after someone who knocked their project right out of the park. “How do you follow that up?” you thought to yourself as you slunk to the front of the classroom.
Spider-Man: Far From Home finds itself in a similar position. Regardless of the care and effort put into this film, how the hell do you top Into the Spider-Verse? That film, regarded as one of the best superhero movies ever, is a tough act to follow. So if you’re here to ask if the new Spidey tops its animated predecessor I can confidently tell you that it does not.
But that doesn’t matter.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a charming, funny, and wildly effective adventure that serves both as a satisfying evolution of the MCU’s Peter Parker and a promising herald of the future of the franchise as a whole. It deserves to stand on its own.
This film, directed by Jon Watts (returning from the previous entry), has the unenviable task of picking up the pieces after Avengers: Endgame, but it’s a task Watts and Co. are well prepared for. In its lightning paced first act Far From Home manages to resolve lingering questions about the people who were snapped out of, and back into, existence with wit and an impressive eye for scope. From there, Peter and the gang are whisked off on a summer trip to Europe where the plot sprints into action and Peter once again finds himself struggling with balancing the pressures of his teenage life with the responsibilities entrusted to his masked alter ego. That mantle gets kicked into another gear when Peter discovers that the late Tony Stark, whose specter lingers over the plot, has entrusted him with an enormous responsibility.
I won’t spoil anything from there, but suffice to say this story should feel familiar to anyone whose seen or read a Spider-Man story before. Great power, great responsibility. But where this particular story manages to stand out is how it evolves that idea. The passing of Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and Vision has left a hole that needs to be filled and there are many who would like to take on that responsibility and few who are capable of bearing it well. As Peter struggles with his, and Spider-Man’s, place in the world the movie presents pretenders to that throne. If you know anything about the comics history of the characters involved then you probably know roughly how this all plays out, but these characters, even with all their history, feel especially relevant today as Far From Home evolves into a story about our collective relationship with the truth and our willingness to put our faith in those who have not earned it. It’s a story that feels as topical as it does grounded in the Spider-Man ethos and it’s a genuine joy to see the Marvel team firing on all cylinders like this.
All said and done, this is one of Marvel’s better entries, thanks in no small part to Jake Gyllenhaal’s turn as Quentin Beck aka Mysterio. It’s exciting to see a character, historically viewed as too silly to ever appear on screen, done so well. Mysterio is flat out fun and exciting and Gyllenhaal catapults the character into the upper echelon of Marvel’s pantheon. It’s also worth mentioning that in a movie whose special effects and choreography are largely middling to fair, Mysterio turns in some of the best sequences in the entire MCU.
Of course, the movie is not without flaws. The aforementioned lightning pace makes it harder to empathize and identify with Peter as plot and underdeveloped motives are hurled at the viewers in an effort to set the stage and accomplish all the necessary housekeeping. Because of that, it takes a bit longer to become really invested in the story. It’s only when Peter receives his gift from the departed Stark that the story and themes come into focus. Because of that rush, Peter’s arc takes some time to get off the ground. The sentiment of “I’m just a friendly neighborhood Spider-man and/or just a kid who wants to go on vacation, stop asking me to save the world” is more or less Peter’s only character beat for longer than it should be.
But, thankfully, these issues don’t drag the film down as the fun characters and off-beat sense of humor keep the story fun and easy to enjoy. For every issue with pacing or repetitive character beat there is vastly more wit, charm, and effective plot turns to keep the story going and the audience thoroughly entertained. Spider-Man: Far From Home is asked to accomplish a lot, and does so well.
Oh and the two credits scenes are absolute winners. Don’t miss them.
See it in theaters