Review: Spider-Man, Far From Home

The film that follows Avengers: Endgame faced an unenviable task. Marvel’s huge finale was a definite narrative end and a suitable point at which to pack up the franchise. However, that was never the plan. Endgame was the end of a set of phases in Marvel’s cinematic universe rather than an end to the whole project. Yes, no more Iron Man and no more (probably) Captain America, at least with in the form of Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans but Marvel had already positioned a new roster of characters to keep things going (and looks like there will be a Thor 4).

Pulling Spider-Man into the mix from Sony was a smart move and has resulted in a weird kind of Spider-Renaissance, with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming providing a surprisingly fresh take on the superhero who is second only to Batman in having modern movie reboots. Sony then manage to up that ante with Into the Spiderverse throwing a whole nest of Spideys at the screen in vivid colours. Far From Home as a film was placed in the wholly unenviable position of having to live-up to not just Endgame but also two great recent Spider-Man films and kick off the next round of the MCU.

It doesn’t fail at this these tasks but it does dodge them. The major plot twist is strongly signalled to anybody who knows about Spider-Man’s classic villains and is explained by exposition (nicely done, but still a pause for the bad guy to explain to his hench people what is going on). I don’t want to sound dismissive by saying it is a kid’s movie (I like kid’s movies and often they get to be more inventive than movies pitched at adults) but it feels like it has a younger audience in mind. There’s a teen-comedy feel that I think works for the character and the engaging cast but which also side-steps the momentous backstory that comes with from being set post-Endgame.

The positioning of Spider-Man as the replacement for the Iron Man franchise is overt. As with Homecoming, Tony Stark looms large over the film but this time posthumously. It’s an interesting choice but one Marvel obviously planned given how Spider-Man was introduced in Civil War, the inclusion of Stark in Homecoming and the pairing of Peter Parker and Tony Stark in Avengers: Infinity War.

Tonally there’s very little in common between the Spider-Man films and the Iron Man films. The torch-handing-over aspect is more of a plot point but also in terms of Spider-Man now being ‘the one with the gadgets’ in the franchise. Not wholly off-brand for Spider-Man given Peter Parker’s interest in technology but still an odd choice for a superhero with his own innate powers.

Jake Gyllenhaal is fun to watch as always, as are Cobie Smulders and Samuel L Jackson as a kind of two-person version of SHIELD. The theme of Peter Parker and substitute fathers (Stark, Fury, Misterio) continues without becoming overwhelmed by angst. The broader theme of deception and what can and can’t be trusted is a timely one and leads into a nice surprise in the post-credit scenes.

Fun and diverting. It’s not the pleasant surprise that Homecoming was and it isn’t visual feast that Spiderverse was but it is a sweet film with really likeable characters and enough superhero action to keep me interested.

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7 thoughts on “Review: Spider-Man, Far From Home

  1. “Fun and diverting. It’s not the pleasant surprise that Homecoming was and it isn’t visual feast that Spiderverse was but it is a sweet film with really likeable characters and enough superhero action to keep me interested.”

    Agreed. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t recall who described this film as a teen rom-com under a superhero film wrapper, which I thought was a very accurate description. Funny and charming, with a delightful cast and some nice action sequences and introspective moments, but unavoidably very low-stakes in contrast to Infinity War/Endgame.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Worth seeing, but not a masterpiece. I agree that the Villan exposits scene had issues – I was very aware that I was watching a film at that point – but I also think it would be very hard to do it with more subtlety.

    I think the youtube channel Cinemasins pointed out that homecoming’s spider suit had basically meant there were basically doubling up on Iron Man, which seemed awkward at the time but is instead showing how Marvel plans ahead for actors/characters bowing out.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. (MILD) SPOILERS:

    It’s actually a sneakier movie than it looks. The teen comedy stuff in the movie just fits in with the same material in the first Spider-Man: Homecoming movie. But Spider-Man: Far From Home is partly the opposite of the first one — it’s about PTSD and how to live with it. It mirrors the parts of Iron Man 3 when Tony is dealing with PTSD and wanting to escape from being Iron Man because he doesn’t think he can do it anymore.

    In the first Spider-Man movie and in Civil War, Peter Parker is all gung-ho to be a super-hero saving people and be an Avenger. He’s all enthusiastic teenager, literally bouncing off the walls. He is thrilled that Tony gives him a suit. He keeps calling Stark and Happy, wanting to do stuff, waiting for stuff to happen so he can be Spider-Man, chaffing at Tony’s demands that he stick to his neighborhood and act as much like a normal teenager as possible. He acts rashly, taking on trouble himself, etc. At the end of the first movie, Peter has realized the importance of being more thoughtful, of complicated consequences, and of the importance of helping your own neighborhood, of actually helping people close to you instead of simply getting to be a cool superhero. He gives up being an Avenger to return to being a (pretend) regular teenager.

    Then he dies helping to save the world, gets brought back alive five years later and sees his mentor die to save him. In Far From Home, Peter doesn’t want to even be a local superhero anymore. He is traumatized and he wants to be a normal teenager and give up the super-heroing. He feels lost and he’s scared about who else he could lose. He doesn’t see Mysterio as simply a father figure — he sees Mysterio as the guy who’s going to take over so he no longer has the responsibilities and the fear he’s had since Endgame and Tony’s death — an escape clause. He does not want to get back up. He does not want to be treated as an adult, as Fury is doing or be Spider-Man right now. He wants help. He wants to have a romance with M.J., not so that she’ll see him as cool Spider-Man, but as Peter.

    And the other kids are also traumatized from being dead and then alive and in high school five years later when many of their friends have moved on to college or adulthood without them. They are all struggling to deal with the scary threats in the world, that no one is actually safe just because there are superheroes, and trying to process what happened to them. They all want to escape from all that weirdness on the trip. Ned still wants to be Peter’s guy in the chair — but he also just wants to have a teen romance. M.J. wants to keep being the snarky weird girl who’s invulnerable to soft emotions, but she can’t quite manage it anymore. Flash tries to offset his panic attacks by believing Spider-Man will save him.

    It seems like teen comedy because these kids had their teenage-hood ripped from them and they are desperately trying to get it back. But they can’t — the other kids have to race across a London bridge and stand up to a killer drone (admittedly in the best Scooby-Doo tradition.) And Peter, with Happy telling him Tony faced the same issue with the same sense of helplessness, has to face not so much an outer threat, as most of that ends up illusionary, but the inner one of being afraid, of wanting someone else to be not just a hero, but a leader, of being an adult warrior who has to get back up. Mysterio does the mind-screw on him, re-stimulating him all over again and making him unsure, not being able to function. He finds a way to put the two worlds together at the end, and then, well there’s the ending, which was pretty brilliant.

    So it’s fun and often silly and Jake G. chews through scenery, but it ends up being more serious than the first Spider-Man movie, and an echo of the trauma of Endgame. When Peter is designing the suit he needs and talking to Happy about Tony, I actually got a bit teary because it was so much the opposite of how Peter was when he got the first gadget filled spidey suit from Tony and him trying to play with it inexpertly. He was a teenager in the first movie, and in Civil War and in Infinity Wars. In this one, he has to give a lot of that up because he’s been to war and he can’t go back to what he was.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kat:

      “They all want to escape from all that weirdness on the trip. Ned still wants to be Peter’s guy in the chair — but he also just wants to have a teen romance. M.J. wants to keep being the snarky weird girl who’s invulnerable to soft emotions, but she can’t quite manage it anymore. Flash tries to offset his panic attacks by believing Spider-Man will save him. ”

      Yeah. And the movie shows that other characters are messed up in similar ways. The science teacher obsessing over witchcraft, the other teacher painting a happy face on whatever weirdness does happen, etc. It’s PTSD – the movie.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s also setting up for the branching off from the now finished Marvelverse Avenger saga. The next movie in the SM franchise won’t be so inter-locking, so all the characters, particularly Peter, are figuring out how to say goodbye to their troubled past and move on — into the Spider-Man franchise standing on its own and expanding its own sub-universe within Marvel.

        But there is also the National Lampoon: European Vacation aspect that was totally delightful. There are like twenty references to different key eighties movies in the film, some of them quite overt, the others sneakier for the older folk.

        Liked by 1 person

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