Director: Jon Watts
Cast: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Remy Hii, Cobie Smulders, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove
WARNING: Minimal spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame below. If you’ve not seen these movies yet, do so before continuing (if you’re bothered).
As the trailer for Spider-Man: Far from Home was released pre-Avengers: Endgame, it quickly became apparent that Peter Parker was going to survive the “blip”, the name given to Thanos’ “snap” that obliterated half of all life in the universe at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Now that the dust has more or less settled back into original form, FFH is the next and final stop of Phase 3, thus ending this chapter of the MCU, a.k.a the “Infinity Saga”. Is this movie a good end to this particular era? Was Spider-Man really the best guy for the job here? Could we have used a fresher face?
Eight months post-Endgame, and five years post-blip, Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Holland), along with many others, is still coming to terms with previous events, namely the death of Tony Stark. Despite having technically been gone for five years, he’s still a sixteen-year-old in school, and as a result he must still take part in field trips. On this particular occasion, his teacher has arranged for his entire class to visit cities in Europe, a trip that includes Peter’s best friend, Ned (Batalon), and his crush, MJ (Zendaya). The trip is very quickly interrupted when Peter is called upon to assist newcomer Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) in defeating Hellfire, the fourth of the Elementals (big bads that use the elements to destroy everything around them). As things progress, Peter (with a little help) discovers that not all is what it seems, as usual, and must use his own initiative/Spidey Sense/Peter Tingle (again, with a little help) in order to set things right.
2017’s Homecoming was a resounding success for bringing Spider-Man firmly into the MCU (even if he is pretty much on loan from Sony) with his first MCU solo movie. And it deserved its success: it was funny, action-packed, well-directed, well-cast and well-performed, arguably the best movie iteration of Spider-Man to date. FFH attempts to replicate what worked for Homecoming, and for the most part it succeeds in doing so, however the humour is a little off at times when it comes to the “adult” characters, though if it’s left to Peter and his “babysitter”, Happy Hogan (Favreau), the beat returns. Similarly, Mysterio is a character who seems off for all the wrong reasons at first, but Gyllenhaal being Gyllenhaal manages to very much pick the character up again later on in the film, all but saving Mysterio from being an entirely lacklustre villain.
Visually, FFH is just as awesome as Homecoming but in a different way, mostly thanks to all adversaries involved. It’s difficult to elaborate on this without spoilers, but there are certain times when Peter’s head is severely messed with, and the way it’s done is trippy, and there are certain moments when even the audience are easily tricked. Not only do we have the major action sequences, but also something that’s a little smaller yet too close for comfort, showing a range of ways in which director Watts has decided to come at Peter and, by proxy, the audience. Watts’ direction also means that while we get the action and the drama that comes with any Marvel movie, we still get a good understanding of the turmoil in Peter, not only due to the events of Endgame, but also in his life as a teenage boy and his struggle to spend even a little bit of time as a normal teenage boy. In the sense of the post-Endgame emotional struggle, it’s understandable for Spidey to round off Phase 3: if there’s anyone we could relate to when it comes to what was lost in Endgame, and basically summing up ten years of building and breaking relationships, it would be Peter.
As always, Holland is on excellent form as Peter/Spidey. His comic timing is spot on and he still easily pulls us in to Peter’s emotions, emotions that utterly reflect those of audiences that have also been affected in one way or another by Endgame’s harsh realities. His chemistry with the likes of Favreau, Tomei (as Peter’s guardian Aunt May) and Batalon makes the characters’ relationships all the more believable than ever before. Even the brief chemistry with Gyllenhaal is excellent, despite the character of Quentin/Mysterio not really being consistently strong. Gyllenhaal is without doubt one of the top actors working today, and this role could be considered light in comparison to some of his other work, but he still manages to pull off a character that is really rather unusual (at least by the end of the movie). Zendaya’s MJ is just as odd as she was in Homecoming, if not more so, and overall she’s likable, though the way she often holds herself is a little strange, as if she’s always looking down her nose at Peter, like she’s trying to be “aloof” more than anything else. Batalon’s Ned seems to have grown up a little, probably thanks to being in the loop with what’s going on with the Avengers; he’s a little less nerdy and annoying and more quick to action and actually helpful to Peter.
There is an argument here for using a newer character other than Spider-Man from Marvel Comics to introduce the next chapter and new phases, someone who could open up new storylines and, potentially, new universes. It could also easily be argued that Spider-Man/Peter Parker is the perfect character to lead the new team, because not only is he still young and could do a round of ten-ish years in the same way Iron Man/Robert Downey Jr. and Captain America/Chris Evans have done, but also Tom Holland is so popular with newer and younger audiences as well as longer serving fans because he makes Spider-Man an easy character to get onboard with. There’s also potential in his future storylines (be sure to stick around for the mid-credit scene at least to get a sneak peak of what could happen next, if you’ve not yet seen FFH) and it seems many people are looking to him to be the next Iron Man/Tony Stark and lead the new Avengers. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen, but for now Spider-Man is a growing character and there’s definitely a lot of hype for what will come next, not only for Peter Parker, but for the entire MCU.