After Avengers: Endgame conquered the world this year at the movies, it is now a strange time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because we all are left to ask, “what happens now”? Well, before Phase Three of the MCU is over and out, there is one more movie that may just give us a few suggestions, in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Twenty-three films in and bringing “The Infinity Saga” to an official close, Far From Home is also a sequel to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and the supposed last film (though it will surely continue) that has Sony working with Marvel Studios allowing them use of the Spider-Man character. Needless to say, despite the high stakes of Endgame, Far From Home has a lot to prove in being the unexpected choice to close out this era of Marvel and to suggest to audiences there is a bright future to this universe. Remarkably, Far From Home not only does both of those things, it actually beats Captain America: Civil War as the best entry in the MCU altogether (in my opinion of course).
After finding his footing as the friendly neighbourhood spider-man in Homecoming, the tragic fallout of the Avengers’ costly victory in Endgame weighs heavily on young Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Set in a quite crazy post-infinity world already, whereby those who crumbled to dust re-appeared five years later as though nothing happened (this is named “the blip”), this film sees Peter dealing with an awful lot. So, he welcomes his upcoming european field trip with his class, where he has a plan to finally tell classmate MJ (Zendaya) how he really feels but heroic responsibilities come his way when monsters have arrived on our world from another universe’s earth but has Peter found a much needed ally in Quentin Beck (aka Mysterio) (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero from this alternate earth, who is here to fight these ‘elementals’.
From ideas inspired by the long-cherished comic book lore of the Marvel multiverse onscreen (tackled in last year’s awesome Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse), as well as continuing Homecoming’s teen-drama approach, this film is a funny, heartfelt and surprisingly intense ride. Far From Home captures the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko source material with the utmost affection, delivering a film that will send various ages of longtime fans back to their respective youths and send new young fans giddy too. Taking a page from the golden age of the character as well as more recent material (I got heavy vibes of the ‘90s animated series), while also taking some bold new steps (that heart-racing first mid-credits scene…wows in more ways than one), it reminds a bit at times of Aquaman in how it takes joy in the material it has at its disposal and there are so many fun easter eggs dotted throughout.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about director Jon Watts’ film and its screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers is how it sidesteps predictability by joyously toying with formula and cleverly twisting things to the point where you are lured into a (spider)sense of false security yourself. The third act especially is so brilliantly self-reflexive, with Marvel tropes and cliches used to the benefit of the story and its themes. This really is a superhero story fit for our times which picks apart issues of trust, duty, loss, love and truth. It shows how truths and lies can affect our world and how people’s belief can be easily obtained with the right material, and thus captures today’s troubled world almost ridiculously well.
There is much of our world’s political and sociological views reflected in this tale and while some admittedly may not quite go for the film’s moments of young romance and gags, especially as the game is upped the longer it goes on, this is always a charming and fun film but with some very strong statements to make. As well as a couple of frightening beats in one particularly eye-melting set-piece, that is filled with spectacular CGI and innovative imagery, which feels completely immersive on the big screen. Especially as it is accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s brilliant score, which wholeheartedly improves on his work in Homecoming and does a fantastic job bringing further to life some of the films interesting and ingenious set pieces.
Tom Holland’s place as the best ever spidey is set in stone here and the actor delivers an emotional, vibrant and heroic performance as both faces of the character and be it in a honest conversation with his Aunt May (a great Marisa Tomei) or friend/mentor Happy Hogan (the always likable Jon Favreau), or leaping into battle alongside Mysterio to battle the elementals across European hotspots, Holland is absolutely excellent. Although the show is rather stolen by Jake Gyllenhall’s outing as Mysterio. The character is so perfectly performed by Gyllenhaal and is re-imagined somewhat as uncle-like guardian for our overwhelmed web-shooting hero, in the most brilliant and appropriate fashion. This powerful lead act is supported in the film by a string of strong performances, including Samuel L. Jackson’s welcome and unexpected turn as Avengers figurehead Nick Fury, Zendaya’s bright, honest and endearing MJ and Jacob Batalon as Peter’s lively best mate Ned, as well as bickering teachers Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove, and the movie features – hands down – the MCU’s best villain (no question in my mind).
Spider-Man: Far From Home works so well for a number of reasons but largely because it remains so focused on its own story, while serving pointers for where we go next (instead of overcrowded sub-plots). A film about maturation, guidance and the power of the truth, this film is crazily timely in its themes, clever in its delivery and action but first and foremost a wall-crawling, web-shooting, building-swinging blast.