With Avengers: Endgame, Marvel took things to the edge of epic-ness in every way – budget, scope, emotion, cast, box-office totals, fan’s tears, etc. With it, we said goodbye to characters we’d grown attached to over a decade and the MCU itself is now altered to its core because of it. It’s only natural that the next Marvel Cinematic Universe outing should be something of a smaller-scale palate cleanser. Luckily, we happen to know a high school aged web-slinger that does that kind of thing nicely in the MCU.
With Spider-Man: Homecoming, Marvel Studios (and Sony) found a nice little ground-level corner for Spider-Man to operate in that felt like something of a John Hughes film with a superhero twist. The result was a delightful teen action-comedy that felt both new for the MCU and Spider-Man cinematically, finally capturing the youthful energy of the early Spider-Man comics. Nothing against the previous film iterations of Spidey – it’s just hard to capture a youthful spirit when your Peter Parker looks 40 (Tobey Maguire) or is constantly filled with dark angst (Andrew Garfield).
As Far From Home‘s release date approached, word began trickling out that the movie had some fairly significant twists that it was keeping hidden from all marketing. Naturally, fans have absolutely been buzzing with possibilities of what these twists could be and how significantly it will change the MCU as we know it. Those letting their imaginations get away from them may be disappointed with the end results. Yes, there are certainly some twists, but expecting something as world-shattering as Endgame will only leave fans letdown. Which is a shame, as Spider-Man: Far From Home is a marvellously excellent film that takes what worked in Homecoming and expands upon it with vigor and charm to spare.
I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone here, so I’ll simply say that Spider-Man: Far From Home follows Peter Parker in a post-Endgame world where he desperately wants to get away from the superhero drama and life he’s been leading. Naturally, he opts to embark on a summer trip with his classmates. Sadly for ol’ Peter, that’s always when our heroes get pulled back into the fray – right when they least want it to happen. Enter: Nick Fury and a newcomer, Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who need Spidey to step up and fill some very empty Iron-shoes.
For my money, Tom Holland is the closest thing we’ve come to the real Spider-Man yet in a live-action film, and continually provides more heart and nuanced depth to both Peter and Spidey with every outing. In Far From Home, he only deepens that connection we already have with him. It doesn’t hurt that he has an actor like Jake Gyllenhaal to share scenes with, who also gives a terrific and multi-faceted performance as Beck/Mysterio – one that’s most definitely different than the Mysterio from the comics, but all of the changes come in service of the world and the story. In less charismatic hands, it may fall flat, but Gyllenhaal makes it look easy.
Other Homecoming standouts, like Peter’s trusty “guy in the chair,” Ned, played by Jacob Batalon, and Zendaya’s MJ, are just as charming as the last go-round. This time they’re also joined by MCU papa-bear, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan, and the ever-trusty, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) who all turn in solid performances themselves when all is said and done. Another surprising and hilarious stand-out is Martin Starr, who returns as Peter’s teacher, Mr. Harrington, and is consistently a source of hearty laughs, even within a cast of comedic heavy hitters.
The magic of Far From Home is in its ability to thread the needle when it comes to continuing the story and ground-level vibe of Homecoming and feeling like a great way to react and respond to Endgame all at once. Avengers: Endgame was so massively impactful that it would have done the character of Spider-Man a disservice not to address things head-on, and yet, you don’t want it to completely lose the small-scale teen movie charm from Spider-Man: Homecoming. It does both very well, all while having a fun, international vibe all its own.
Mix in another solid score by Michael Giacchino, some workman-like cinematography from Matthew J. Lloyd, and the deft directorial hand of returning director Jon Watts, and you’ve got yourself another great Spidey adventure. One that, as previously mentioned, feels like a logical continuation of both Endgame and Homecoming all at once. Is it my favorite Spider-Man movie of all time? No – that still belongs to Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. Is it even better than Homecoming? Quite possibly. It’s at least as good, which considering how well Homecoming worked, is a bit of a feat in and of itself.