The lights dim as I settle into my oversized seat. Spider-Man: Far From Home is moments away from beginning. I quickly glance around the theater and spot an array of spritely man-children, I am among true fans. There will be no kicking the back of my chair, or faint arguments about sharing a box of candy between two live-action Garbage Pail Kids. This will be it, a Spider-Man (Tom Holland) movie about Spider-Man. Not Spider-Man plus Captain America and several hundred other heroes. Not Spider-Man and his mentor Tony Stark. I’ve been waiting for five films now to see Holland stand on his own as Spider-Man and really showcase what he can do with this character.
Unfortunately…given the abundance of scenes alongside “mentor Mysterio” (Jake Gyllenhaal), Happy Hogan (John Favreau), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and just general time spent talking about Iron Man, it felt like yet another ensemble film. Good for the larger connected universe, bad for anyone who yearns for a solo, Tobey Maguire-esque type of story. *sheepishly raises hand in fear of ravenous fans who see Tom Holland as an angelic god-like being*
Isabella: Say Buona Sera to My New American Friend, Peter Parker
Far From Home takes Peter and friends on an international field trip which turns from delightful to disastrous with the rise of the Elementals, element-based monsters who are hellbent on mass destruction. Luckily, Mysterio, a brand-new hero shows up to help contain the chaos and aide Spider-Man in keeping everyone safe. In a surprising twist (that surprised no one) Mysterio reveals himself to be the main villain of the film, and the cause of the Elementals, which were mere illusions of his own design. Peter wrestles with his personal wants and how they conflict with his moral obligations to suit up as Spider-Man. Should he confess to MJ (Zendaya) how he feels? Should he be the next Iron Man? What does the job of Spider-Man entail, and is there such thing as balance between his two personas? Three, if you count “Night Monkey”?
The themes explored in this movie are based around big life questions that propel Peter further into the costumed, crime-fighting limelight. After going to space and saving the world with The Avengers, his character finally slows down enough to explore how he feels, what he wants for himself, and what his future might look like moving forward.
Spider Successes Are Tingling
This movie had a lot to prove very quickly as the final film in Phase 3 of the MCU, especially following Avengers Endgame. First on the list, the five year time jump. Although it’s a little coincidental for my taste that Peter, MJ, Ned (Jacob Batalon), Flash (Tony Revolori), and Betty (Angourie Rice) all disappeared during “The Blip”, the explanation satiated my curiosity. In a universe full of aliens and flying Norweigan dad-bods, there are stranger things. Moving the setting into a broader scope really differentiated this film from prior Spider-Man movies, both in terms of marketing and visuals. A refreshing change of pace. It also made sense to be in Italy when the media dubbed Quentin Beck as “Mysterio” (a word of Italian origins), a standout detail on behalf of the writing team.
Mysterio takes the cake as the reason to see this film. Gyllenhaal excels in a believable rendition of this classic Spidey villain. There was a lot of smart decision-making that went into crafting this character for the big screen. The drones, the disenfranchised Stark team, for being such a tricky character to take seriously with that giant fishbowl helmet (which I lowkey love), this rendition felt like a real person who could actually exist. Obviously, we will see Mysterio later down the road, hopefully in a Sinister Six team-up. Lastly, most of the internet’s wild and unflattering rumors ended up being just that. Thank frog. As for Dimitri being the Chameleon, the verdict is out, but I would still say, probably? If you missed my article on the rumors about Far From Home, you can read them all here.
Elementals, My Dear Not Mary Jane Watson
I don’t want to tear this movie apart—but here I am and here you are, so let’s begin. The Elementals, if you were excited to see Hydro-Man or Molten-Man, too bad. Not only is are the monsters depicted stand-ins for actual characters, but they’re not even real. I feel jipped. My annoyance was only elevated by the abundance of Ned I had to experience in this film. Where is the cool and suave Harry Osborn when you need him? No, really, where is he? It’s time to make the switch. I believe Ned has a space in this universe, but how he is used is what bothers me. He’s a walking plot device, a wannabe master of comedic one-liners, which he is not.
MJ felt a little different this movie. In Spider-Man: Homecoming she owns my favorite scene, where she casually informs a teacher that she’s only in detention because she likes drawing people in crisis. In Far From Home, Michelle almost parodies herself. “I like the necklace better broken.” Ok MJ, there is unusual, snarky, nerd girl— and then there’s Lydia Deets. Zendya’s performance was incredible, but the writing behind her character felt confused.
I recognize the presence of Iron Man in Peter’s life. I appreciate Iron Man, he’s a badass. I, however, am not a mega Iron Man fanboy. Including him in the first MCU Spider-Man film only to have the second be about his absence was a really intellegent idea. With that said, I’m ready to stop talking about him. His domineering presence was used to help steer Peter towards heroism and that was a great success. In closing, enough Happy Hogan, mentions of Pepper Potts, and stupid glasses that looked like Sunglass Hut clearance. I am done. Excited to see where Phase 4 takes us, please let it be away from wallowing about Tony Stark.
What’s Next: As Told by the End Credit Scenes
These end credit scenes are a lot to unpack, and I suspect to be more than subtly related. In the first of two scenes, we meet new modernized “fake news-esque” J. Jonah Jameson. He’s portrayed once again portrayed by J.K. Simmons which was a huge win for Spider-Man fans everywhere. Simmons is considered to be one of the crown jewels of Raimi’s original trilogy.
Jameson’s middle of the afternoon, daytime tv show, streaming on a giant billboard, decides to broadcast sensitive footage (because that makes sense) of Spider-Man killing Mysterio. Then, the feed reveals Spider-Man to be none other than Peter Parker. Clearly, this footage has been doctored and tampered with by Beck. I didn’t love this twist, it’s way too soon for this event to be happening in the MCU. Peter hasn’t even started working for the Daily Bugle? Luckily, I have a feeling the forces that be at Marvel are about to hit the undo button on this creative decision.
Let’s insert a end credits scene of the shape-shifting Skrulls following the scene where Peter’s identity being revealed to the world? This certainly isn’t a hint that the next movie will undo the revelation of Peter’s secret by making a Skrull publicly stand-in for him, so he can be two places at once (sarcasm). It seems a little too obvious?
Finding out Nick and Maria (Cobie Smulders) were Skrulls…fell kind of flat. To be honest, I had been speculating that Fury was one for some time now after watching Captain Marvel. Granted, I do think the real Nick was at Tony Stark’s funeral, so the Skrulls have just taken over for the past few years? More than anything, this scene seems like a way to push the entire MCU toward space for a more cosmic-centric, Phase 4. My guess: Spider-Man 3 will round out the “home” theme with Spider-Man: Home Invasion. That subtitle was part of the Secret Invasion series, which was an eight-issue crossover event where the Skrulls disguised themselves as popular Marvel heroes. Unapologetically, calling it now.
Was it worth the trip to the theater to see Spider-Man: Far From Home? Absolutely. It’s imperative at this point to see each installation of the MCU. Is it my favorite Marvel film? No. Do I want Ned to perish in the next installation? I will not confirm nor deny. I’m just saying he just had a really good vacation and seems to have a very complete and full life, for a teenager.
What was your favorite scene from Spider-Man: Far From Home? Let us know in a comment below.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is in theaters now