The Spider-Man series has been in certain peril over the last couple of months, plagued in controversy over how the series would continue forward. After Spider-Man: Homecoming righted the ship, so-to-speak, both critically and from a box-office standpoint, Tom Holland’s portrayal of the iconic character has been seen across many different films throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For a time, it even appeared as though Sony might try to continue the series by severing ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, connecting Spider-Man instead, to the series established with the recent Venom film. As curious as I was to see what that would look like, I’m thankful that, as of this writing, the disagreements seem to have been subdued and we can look forward to similar outings in the future.
Hopefully, this paragraph will serve as an amusing reminder, above all else.
I was excited for Spider-Man: Far From Home, although, it might be fair to say I wasn’t as enamored with Homecoming as many others were. A lot of the issues I might have had with it, I’ve come to realize, are mostly because of what it isn’t. As much as The Amazing Spider-Man might have misfired at times, there are a lot of aspects about both films that I did enjoy, and as much as I enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is a lot of fields where I believe the franchise could improve, particularly with their solo films like Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. These are mostly changes in-terms of cinematography and creating a satisfying, distinct, self-contained narrative.
As the name suggests, Spider-Man: Far From Home sees the web-crawler swing away from Queens, New York, on a school field-trip to Europe. However, by no accident, this field-trip sees him recruited by Nick Fury to assist in an ongoing conflict – alongside a new superhero, aptly named by the media and Peter Parker as Mysterio (played by Jake Gyllenhaal, a long-time favorite of mine).
Mysterio, too, is also a long-time favorite super-villain of mine, and I was curious about how he’d be portrayed. The trailers suggested he might be a superhero, which suggests a “shocking” betrayal. However, with Disney recently reacquiring rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four series, and Sony’s recent success with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a lot of new possibilities enter into the equation. Is this Mysterio, in-fact, a good guy? No puns intended, the belief of the possible multiverse added a lot of new dimensions to the story as it unfolds.
Something else that’s important for Spider-Man: Far From Home is that it’s fresh off Avengers: Endgame.
This is important for two reasons.
(1) Half the population was snapped out of existence for five years, then, snapped back into reality like an Eminem verse. What exactly are the consequences to “The Snap”? How many civilians were snapped out of existence while on an airplane, then, brought back in midair, plummeting to their deaths? What about people who are brought back only to discover a tree has now grown exactly where they stood? Are they killed? Are they a new superhero – Tree-Man?
(2) The film follows Spider-Man / Peter Parker now that his mentor Iron Man / Tony Stark is now dead. Leaving him, and the world, wondering who will step-up and lead Earth’s mightiest heroes.
On top of all of that, Spider-Man: Far From Home sees Peter Parker struggle with trying to have his own life (including a budding romance with M.J.) and his responsibilities as Spider-Man.
As you might have uncovered, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a very busy film with a lot of tasks on its “To Do” list. Fortunately, brevity has always been a feat that comes easily to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even as it has begun juggling more substantial, larger-scale conflicts such as with Avengers: Endgame, it never fails to find the humor in itself. This film is no exception, amounting to what’s mostly a very easygoing, watchable film. Tom Holland is back as the lead-protagonist and brings the same charm that has endeared him to comic-book fans and casual moviegoers alike. The blooming romance between Peter Parker and Zendaya’s interpretation of the M.J. character also brings a level of high-school romance and innocent charm to the film.
An admitted worry I had about the film had to do with the scale the Spider-Man character has been brought to.
“Bitch, you’ve been to space!” Nick Fury could be heard saying in the trailers for the film. It’s a real statement. How, exactly, does one go back to being the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man when they’ve tackled the adversity this iteration of Peter Parker has been dealt. One of the best aspects of the Spider-Man stories, over the years, has been its unique, self-contained narratives, whereas, one of the biggest worries I have, is that Spider-Man will become too entangled in larger-scale, Marvel calamities. As Spider-Man: Far From Home comes to reveal – you can’t go home again. Spider-Man is pitted large-scale, world-threatening conflict. To my pleasant surprise, however, the film manages to walk the tight-rope and make the most of it.
Although the film remains heavily intertwined with the other Marvel superheroes, it feels like an engrossing Spider-Man experience. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as Mysterio is charming and satisfyingly predictable yet with clever nuances, and the special-effects and dream-like scenes involving his character and Spider-Man are among my favorite of Spider-Man in-general. I can remember a particular scene involving the deceased Iron Man character and the goosebumps I felt travel up my arms.
Spider-Man: Far From Home comes with a lot of baggage left by Avengers: Endgame. It’s on clean-up duty, so-to-speak, but, through a script that’s breezy and yet, full of surprises and heart, it manages to improve on its predecessor. Simply put, Spider-Man 2 is a great film in the Marvel series and shows that, not only is there life left for the Web-Crawler, he might very well be in his prime.