Avengers: Endgame left the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a state of mournful disarray that Spider-Man: Far From Home immediately addresses. All those questions about “Blip” related details (the five-year gap where half of civilization disappeared), Peter Parker’s inheritance as Tony Stark’s replacement, how a world without Iron Man moves forward – director Jon Watts faces the unenviable task of following and answering for Marvel’s grandest cinematic event (to date). Which, mind you, he does.
Peter Parker’s vacation “far from home” revitalizes Marvel’s less grievous storytelling by amplifying courageous spirits. Watts’ teenage road-trip is the comedy that our palates can appreciate after two sobering Avengers chapters. It might not be as emotionally invested as Spider-Man: Homecoming, but Tom Holland proves himself your favorite neighborhood webslinger over and over as Peter internally wrestles with superhero responsibilities and post-snap fallout.
Fresh off the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) anticipates his chaperoned school trip across Europe away from heroics and danger. Ned (Jacob Batalon) fantasizes about their American bachelor statuses, but Peter’s heart is set on confessing his feelings to MJ (Zendaya). That’s until Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appears in his Italian hotel room, demanding the high schooler abandon normalcy once more to defend Earth. From what, this time? “Elemental” monsters brought upon by cracked multiverse rifts, which also brings us to the introduction of Peter’s new superpowered partner – Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Watts’ production jet-sets away from the doom and gloom of Thanos’ warfare by exploring brightly stuccoed canalside streets of Venice, Italy, or Prague’s outdoor carnival extravagance. Spider-Man: Far From Home does its best to present itself like the multicolored Dutch tulip field Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) lands his company jet atop, embracing the more joyful aspects of superhero cinema.
There’s still a flaming thundercloud beast beating London’s Tower Bridge to rubble chunks, but with an upbeat peppiness. From the film’s opening “In Memorium” high school news report to Mr. Harrington’s (Martin Starr) bumbling leadership qualities (once again), writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers script the adolescent European odyssey Peter deserves – and the post-Avengers closure Marvel fans deserve.
It won’t be hard to forget all that’s been lost, as Tony Stark murals commemorate across all countries. Spider-Man: Far From Home allows Peter to reconcile his feelings over living up to Tony’s larger-than-life presence, trying to figure out what the gazillionaire tech-genius saw in an awkward Queens kid. From Peter’s fumbled conversations with MJ to Fury’s doubts when Spider-Man attempts to decline Avengers duties, Holland’s performance taps into the pains of maturity under a worldwide magnifying glass. “With great power comes great responsibility.” The weight of Spider-Man’s motto rages inside Peter, shaping Holland’s performance through exasperation and self-identity crises. Being Spider-Man is rad, but can’t Peter buy even a week of young adult freedom?
That answer is a resounding “No,” which brings us to Jake Gyllenhaal’s introduction as alternate-Earth’s Quentin Beck. In a time when Thor and Captain Marvel dash “off-world,” Mysterio arrives as this interdimensional soldier vying revenge on the Elementals who eviscerated his homeworld. Fury’s squad desperately requires roster replenishment, Peter needs another mentor figure, and Beck’s smokey-domed rogue is the answer. Gyllenhaal looks good in a cape and is allowed to explore character extravagances suited for the actor’s recent exploration into weirdness when selecting roles. Like a hybrid between Dr. Strange and Captain America. You’ll have to trust me: Jake Gyllenhaal licks his chops while playing Mysterio.
Spider-Man: Far From Home does massive setpiece action tremendously well. As Spidey and Mysterio join forces to defeat magma creatures and skeletal-faced wind formations, destruction lays waste to landmark locales. Mysterio flies around, blasting green beams from his megacharged suit. Peter acrobats and strings webby netting to keep buildings from collapsing. Elemental foes manifest with presence and unleash natural rage, looking every bit the MCU’s top-notch digital graphics department creations. When engaged in combat, Spider-Man: Far From Home is packed with excitement and amazement. When thrust into Peter’s personal battle against delusions of the mind, Spider-Man: Far From Home is even better.
Watts proves the MCU is in good hands as another “Phase” comes to close, calling back to those who’re gone but nary forgotten. Peter stands over Stark’s suit-customization technology, eyes bright and hands tinkering as Happy catches flashes of Tony in the good-hearted boy. In another scene, Happy hurls a British artifact shield only to have it fall markedly short of hitting its intended target – complete with a sarcastic comment about how easy “Cap” made it look. Peter’s learned from Avengers teammates, and their influence will forever be felt (especially since Tony leaves behind A.I. glasses, a portable “J.A.R.V.I.S.” reminiscent sidekick, for Peter).
Watts’ chaos abroad moves franchise evolution forward while still honoring foundation layers who built Marvel’s cinematic brand from stage one. In with the new, always benefitted by the old.
As the “endgame” aftermath settles, Spider-Man: Far From Home swings in aiming to please. Peter Parker’s innocence and age-appropriate confliction are what makes him such a relatable superhero, and Tom Holland’s performance channels every drop of hormonal instability. In the broadest picture, Spider-Man’s latest adventure is pure Marvel fun in its most entertaining form. A bit deeper, there’s less to grasp in terms of thematic connectivity – but Peter Parker’s quickly becoming the most enjoyable MCU hero worth our attention. Aided by his Instagram-obsessed classmates, benefitting from Tony Stark’s investments, and so ready to lead Marvel’s surviving crew of superheroes.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is the upbeat teenage "road trip" comedy antidote to post-Endgame doom and gloom that Marvel fans deserve.
Spider-Man: Far From Home Review