in Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home

With Endgame finally crossing the all-time box office record this weekend and Marvel announcing the opening salvo of their next phase of movies, I got the feeling I should finally write down my Spider-Man: Far From Home thoughts. MCU tradition dictates each Avengers sequel must be followed up, perhaps a little too soon, by a bug-themed solo adventure. This time it was Spider-Man who drew the short straw and had to follow the biggest movie ever with his own smaller-scale story… at least it seems that way from the outset. Far From Home begins as a chance to decompress after the cataclysmic conclusion of Endgame but soon grows into a staging ground for the next MCU saga. And the more time I’ve had to think about it, the more exciting that seems.

It’s been about one school year since the Hulk used the Infinity Stones to bring everyone who Thanos erased back to life. The world has adjusted once again to a new post-snap status quo (actually, they call it The Blip, a cute name that indicates how much everyone has moved on) and things are starting to return to normal after the confusion of people returning to find their loved ones older, their apartments being rented by new tenants, and some of the Avengers dead. In particular, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) feels the pressure to step up and fill the void Iron Man left when he sacrificed himself to stop Thanos and his time-traveling army.

So a fun summer vacation sounds like exactly what the webslinger needs. Peter and his class are going to Europe on a field trip, which he thinks will be a great chance to unwind and finally tell MJ (Zendaya) about his feelings for her. Coming along for the ride are Peter’s friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), his rival, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), and student reporter Betty Brant (Angourie Rice). They all had conveniently disappeared in the Blip and so their relationships can easily pick up where Homecoming left off. That’s not the case for everyone though, like Brad (Remy Hii), who was five years younger than this class before the Blip and in the intervening years grew up to be handsome and popular. Unlike the rest of this cast, Remy Hii does not look like a high school kid, but that just makes the joke about his popularity funnier.

But Peter has to put aside his rivalry with Brad when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) drop in and recruit Spider-Man on a mission to save the world. To hear them explain in, horrible elemental monsters have started to appear all over the planet and threaten to end all human life unless they’re defeated. How do they know this will happen? Well, that’s because it’s already happened to another Earth. Sound fantastical? Bitch, they’ve been to space. Plus, Fury and Hill have first hand evidence of that courtesy of the other reality’s only survivor, Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a super hero that’s like Thor and Doctor Strange all rolled into one.

Amusing overlap with Into the Spider-Verse aside, this challenge basically makes Far From Home half a high school comedy and half Iron Man sequel without Iron Man. Tony Stark has left much of his hero-ing empire to the typically destitute Peter Parker, who instead finds himself overwhelmed. He’s got Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) looking in on him, the crazy Iron Spider suit and other Stark tech, and Nick Fury looking to him to step up and take charge. Like those Iron Man movies, Far From Home seems to want to make the case that since Spider-Man is the worst-suited person to save the world, he’s actually the best.

I still enjoy it when these super hero movies plunge into another genre, and Far From Home is mostly comfortable existing the same space Homecoming did. I missed the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” side of the last movie, none of the European cities we see have the same character as Queens. But the action is definitely a step up, as Spidey ends up being forced to take on some gigantic foes that exist outside of his typical villain mold. And the scenes of the interpersonal melodrama and or comedy between these teens are still delightful, they had me cracking up for most of the runtime.

All that said, the best part of Spider-Man: Far From Home are the mid- and post-credits scenes. After Endgame dismissed that tradition, I feel like this movie did the best of these since the original Iron Man. Without spoiling them, they simultaneously addressed a few of the beefs I would have otherwise had with this movie and set up a potential sequel that is exciting for me to think about. Jake Gyllenhaal, you did it again.