June 28, 2019
Loss of any kind takes time to properly heal from and, while audiences didn’t get much time– barely three months after the release of Endgame— the characters in Spider-Man: Far From Home appear to have had close to a year. While its seems to have been enough time for most to adjust to their new world, it hasn’t been enough for Peter Parker (Tom Holland).
It’s here that Far From Home develops its heart, creating a through line which pushes Peter to decide if he’s truly ready to be the hero he believed himself to be in Homecoming. With returning director Jon Watts at the helm, and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers back to write, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a strong second solo outing for Holland’s Peter Parker, delivering a fantastically good time for audiences and an incredible epilogue to the MCU Phase 3 and the “Infinity Saga.”
*Spoiler-Alert for Audiences Who Haven’t Seen Avengers: Endgame yet*
Despite the school year being mostly over when Thanos attacked, all of the returning students are required to start their year over again. That means Peter, Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), Betty (Angourie Rice), and Flash (Tony Revolori) are able to go on a class trip to Europe together. After everything he’s been through, Peter’s excited to see the sights and might try to woo MJ, but when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appears in Venice, everything Peter hoped for takes a backseat to an impending, potentially world-ending disaster. Large sentient creatures made of earth, water, wind, and fire are slowly attacking points around the globe and, with no Avengers available to help, Fury needs Peter to suit up and take point. Aiding Fury is newcomer Quentin Beck (Jack Gyllenhaal), dubbed Mysterio by Peter’s friends, who offers expertise in battling the creatures he calls Elementals and guidance to the weary Peter. With the scars from old battles still healing and the prospect of new battles coming, Peter stands on the precipice: become the hero the world thinks he is or stay the child he worries he might actually be.
The films that follow dramatic MCU events tend to be more light-hearted in nature. Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War each preceded an Ant-Man movie. This time around, Spider-Man takes on the role, treating audiences to an unexpected adventure, one which balances the melancholy with the hilarious, the heart-breaking with the uplifting, and the meek with the audacious. McKenna and Sommers wisely use the opening act to establish the new world everyone lives in, answering questions which plagued some audiences after Endgame. This opening sequence is one of many moments which try to lighten the dark subtext within Far From Home, a film which addresses grief, growing up, and what it means to be a hero.
Far From Home has the same teen comedy/superhero feel that Homecoming delivered so well, just in a European setting and with more of a slow burn. As Peter processes the post-Thanos world and his new responsibilities, FFH addresses the Endgame fallout and sets up what’s next. Thankfully, the patient are rewarded by a fun and exciting second act, and an explosively entertaining third act. Whatever you’ve seen in the trailers is only a taste of what Watts delivers in Far From Home, including several sequences that incited audible reactions from the audience in their shock, surprise, and unrepentant joy. There are two specific sequences in particular which seem destined for their own Oscar considerations for Best Visual Effects, trumping the other 2019 MCU releases Captain Marvel and Endgame.
None of this would feel as amazing as it does without the performances from the cast. Much of what makes the Homecoming series of films work is the chemistry in the ensemble. Batalon and Holland are convincing in their relationship as loving and supportive best friends; Zendaya is a modern MJ, smart and capable; and, while Rice and Revolori remain mostly foils, they do engage in real parts of the story. Jon Favreau returns as Happy Hogan, no longer Peter’s reluctant point man, but a supportive uncle-type, while Marisa Tomei as Aunt May steals every scene she’s in. No matter what’s happening, Tomei is effortless. Newcomer to the MCU Jake Gyllenhaal is perfect as Beck, offering a complexity nit usually reserved for a character’s initial outing.
As for Holland, Far From Home cements himself as Peter Parker with a performance that’s not just cracking-wise and saving the day. Peter’s grapples with the loss of another father figure (Uncle Ben being the first) and whether he’s ready to become a globe-trotting Avenger, a contrast to his arc in Homecoming which presented Peter as someone desperate to escape childhood for grown up responsibility. Far From Home is far heavier than Homecoming, but Holland’s performance balances the hurt with humanity, never pushing too far into emo territory.
Some are already hailing Spider-Man: Far From Home as the best live-action Spider-Man film yet, which is a strong statement. At the very least, it’s the best representation of Spider-Man in the MCU – solo feature or ensemble appearance – as it gives Holland a chance to make the character his own and opens the door to an inventive and enterprising future for the MCU. Spider-Man: Far From Home is about possibilities and with the most spectacular end credits yet, the possibilities seem endless.
Star Rating: 4 out of 5