Just when you were excited about all the new possibilities that Avengers: Endgame introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Far From Home comes along to remind you that, nah, not much has really changed in the grand scheme of things.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is now 23rd move in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the third to be released this year behind Endgame and Captain Marvel. From director John Watts and writer Chris McKenna (who also wrote Homecoming, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Far From Home is meant to serve both as a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming and a film that ties up some of the loose ends of the universe now that the infinity saga is complete.
It’s seemingly been three months since the events of Endgame, and poor Peter Parker (Tom Holland) just isn’t feeling this hero gig anymore.
I mean, can you blame him? He is just a teenager, after all. A teenager who may have been to space and helped save all humanity, sure, but Spider-Man: Far From Home really tries to hit that John Hughes mark again by making Peter’s concerns nothing more than schoolwork and girls.
There’s one girl in particular he’s after and, no, it’s not Michael Keaton’s daughter this time around (that was still such a great reveal). It’s MJ (Zendaya), the quiet and quirky rebel without a cause who maybe, JUST MAYBE, might be into Peter, too.
That’s a hypothesis Peter intends to test when standing on top of the Eiffel Tower, as they’re class is headed to Europe for the summer, and…..hold on. Hold the phone right there. Spider-Man: Far From Home is trying to tell me that there is a high school out there that takes a class to Europe for an entire summer. They never say that this is a special abroad program or anything like that — we’re lead to believe that this is just a normal, annual thing this school does. Europe. A whole summer. High-schoolers.
Marvel has tried to sell us some pretty unbelievable sh*t in their day, but this one might just take the cake.
Anyways, Peter’s planning to ask MJ out while they're in France, all while figuring that this trip will be the perfect time to just relax and get away from it all.
It probably would have been, too, if Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) hadn’t shown up at the end of the first day there to hijack the entire thing.
Iron Man is gone now and the world needs a hero. For whatever reason, Tony seemed pretty confident that Spider-Man was the man for the job, meaning that Fury has to go against his better judgment and enlist the help of a 16-year-old kid to save the planet.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the world just so happens to need saving again. Not from this guy named Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) who claims to be from the multi-verse, mind you — no, he’s declaring himself as one of the good guys. Rather, it’s a bunch of giant, boring CGI creations called ‘Elementals’ who are terrorizing Earth and need to be stopped at all cost.
Anyone with access to a comic-book or the internet of course knows that Mysterio is pretty notable Spider-Man antagonist, but since the trailers don’t explicitly go into any of that then, well, neither will I.
Functionally, Spider-Man: Far From Home serves a pretty similar purpose as to what Ant-Man and the Wasp did for Avengers: Infinity War. Following this big, epic story, both of these films take a step back to both give us a breather and show us what’s happening from a boots-on-the-ground kind of viewpoint.
On that point, I like how Spider-Man: Far From Home addresses some of those things. In fact, the thing I like about both of these Spider-Man movies is how they are told in the eyes of teenagers. We’ve already seen what the MCU looks like from the heroes viewpoint — this is kind of the opposite in that we get a glimpse of how regular, everyday people are reacting to the changing world they’ve found themselves in.
And, since it’s teenagers, that’s often played for laughs more often than not. I’m perfectly fine with that because that’s the humor that works best in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Having a bunch of hormonal and generally bored high school seniors explain what’s happened in the past three months through a poorly photoshopped school news video? Or having a nerdy kid who didn’t get snapped become really attractive in those five years and making him the guy Peter has to fight for MJ’s affection? Yeah, that’s both clever and genuinely really funny.
Sadly, most of that kind of dies away after the first five minutes of Spider-Man: Far From Home. After that, the movie is required to stand on its own two legs when it comes to storytelling, and that’s where this thing falls flat.
First, however, I’m going to touch on some of the positives that Far From Home has to offer.
The cast to these movies, as we all know, is great. Between Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon as Ned (who has been and always will be the best thing about this franchise), it’s still cool how these movies cast actors who actually look like high-schoolers in these movies. All of them are still in touch with their characters, which means that you care about them even if you don’t care about a lot of the other things in this movie.
There is gracefully a lot more Zendaya this time around, which is always a good thing. Granted, almost all of her scenes are approached from a romantic angle as Spider-Man: Far From Home certainly wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test, but the good news is the rom-com element is pretty sweet and cute.
The problem is that, at it’s best, this movie never goes beyond sweet and cute. That’s fine during the second half of this movie, when things with Mysterio finally kick into high gear and we’re allowed to kick our feet back and enjoy the web-slinging, but it’s a long, long road to get here.
Following the first five minutes, the first half of Spider-Man: Far From Home is almost a complete drag. As soon as they get to Europe, this movie leans heavily on generic superhero plot number 885, without bringing anything new into the mix. Everything goes completely through the motions as a lot of the humor falls flat, the pacing is all over the place and the expositional story Gyllenhaal gives about the elementals (along with the design of the creatures themselves) could lull me to sleep.
Now, you could argue that the first half is setting up for the second half, which might be a valid point. However, given that the second half still doesn’t excel anywhere beyond ‘entertaining’ and ‘serviceable,’ I’ve got to ask — was it really worth all that? Was the payoff worthy of sitting through over an hour of nothingness?
I don’t think so.
I’ll give the film a few more props for the way they did handle Mysterio, however. Again, no spoilers, but his backstory and everything worked for me — even if it does seem like Gyllenhaal is somewhat going through the motions and just approaching the character in a Nightcrawler-light kind of way.
There’s just an overall lack of agency and purpose to Spider-Man: Far From Home, which bugs me. In fact, I was against Marvel releasing this movie so close to Avengers: Endgame from the beginning. Like, what are we going here? Can’t we just let Endgame sit for a little while? Do we really have to be SO quick to introduce the next chapter?
For a minute, it looked like Marvel was going to prove me wrong by addressing Peter’s inner-struggles of wanting to hang up his cape once and for all. Maybe there really could have been a story worth telling in this timeframe about how he doesn’t think he can do this anymore, given all that he’s seen and all that he’s lost.
While that idea is teased, it stops short of Peter saying, ‘I don’t want to be Iron Man, I just want to kiss a girl.’ That’s it. That’s as far as it goes.
Apart from two intriguing post-credit scenes, Spider-Man: Far From Home just doesn’t have a whole lot to say — especially if you compare it to the glory that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Sure, it’s mildly enjoyable, but I want them to have a real, valid reason for this movie to exist. I’m still looking for one. It doesn’t take away from Endgame or tarnish the Marvel brand in a way that they’ll never recover from, but please, if you don’t mind, for the sake of your poor old fans, keep the margin of release for these films wider than once every three months.
Watch the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'Spider-Man: Far From Home' - Same old Marvel, same old jokes5