Avengers: Endgame happened. 11 years of build-up and now we know how it all ends (and if you don’t, you might want to think about seeing it before watching Spider-Man: Far From Home). That film came and went. But what now?
In walks Spider-Man. The perfect segue to the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s a character we’re familiar enough with to make us feel comfortable after the bittersweet resolution to Endgame. Yet one whose story we still don’t know much about (at least this new incarnation of Spidey), so a new storyline intrigues us enough to get us excited about the direction the MCU is about to take.
Tom Holland plays Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, following the events of his 2017 origins movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, where he gets bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes the web-shooting, high-flying superhero he is today.
More recently, Far From Home comes after Endgame, where Peter helps the Avengers save the world from Thanos, and now has to cope with the death of his good friend and mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), aka Iron Man. With the guidance of Happy Hogan (John Favreau), Stark’s best friend, Peter is trying to figure out what his purpose is. For now, he’s New York City’s neighborhood hero, and he’s content with that, but Avengers leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has other plans in mind. He wants Peter to be the new face of the Avengers. The new Iron Man, so to speak. The difference is, Tony Stark was a billionaire adult, while Peter is a high school teenager living in Queens. His biggest concern is planning how he’s going to land a first kiss with his crush, MJ (Zendaya).
Currently, there’s a villainous force threatening Earth called Elemental. A powerful supernatural entity that takes the form of either fire, water, earth, or wind. Fury has the help of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a superhero from a different reality, or parallel universe.
Peter and his class are on a trip through Europe, and things are going well. Peter is successfully “ghosting” Fury and his requests for assistance. But Fury doesn’t take kindly to being ignored, so he hijacks Peter’s class trip, manipulating itineraries so that Peter is in all the right places when Elemental strikes, forcing him to accept his responsibility as Spider-Man rather than letting him avoid it.
Peter’s priority is getting a girl to like him, not saving the world. It’s self-serving, but shows that he’s actually just a normal teenager. When we were teens, our world was so small. We often couldn’t see beyond what we were doing over the weekend, let alone have the perspective that Peter is asked to have. It may come off as entitlement or selfishness, but really it’s just the not-quite-developed maturity most of us have at that age. According to Peter, he didn’t ask for this responsibility. But Fury sees things differently. He works with heroes everyday–none of which asked for their powers. Yet they choose to use them to help people. They could have used them for evil, but decided to be good instead. Apathy isn’t an option. He doesn’t care how old you are.
Far From Home is about using our gifts. Whatever they may be. We didn’t ask for them, but they’re ours–as with anything in life, both good or bad. Tragedy or fortune. Or things we don’t know exactly how to classify yet. But Peter learns that what makes him a hero is how he deals with those things.
Holland is great here. He’s believably quirky, yet confident, walking the fine line between the two. More like dancing in the gray area occupied by both. Not usually a fan of Zendaya’s acting, I was surprised by her improvement since the last film. It helps that she and Holland have a magnetic chemistry.
Story-wise, the film meanders a lot early on, trying to establish its tonal footing while also tidying up the fallout from Endgame. Luckily writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) specialize in bringing the best out of even the most plodding of scenes. But once the plot gets cooking, we’re in for an entertaining treat filled with stylish Inception-y action sequences and expectedly pleasant levity–though the jokes notably feel a little less laugh-out-loud this time around.
In Spider-Man: Far From Home the stakes are significantly lower, which isn’t a bad thing. We didn’t expect them to be terribly high considering this is, in a way, a new beginning for the series. We aren’t going to get another Thanos-like battle just yet. And impressively that dichotomy isn’t too obvious, boding well for the new future of these Marvel movies.