Review: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

After the universe-shattering stakes of Avengers: Endgame earlier this year, Spider-Man: Far From Home brings a much needed lightheartedness back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that serves as both an epilogue to Endgame and the kickoff to the next phase of the MCU. Far From Home explores a post-Snap world while telling a story about what it means to be a hero in a film that is massively fun, hilarious, and packed with action and heart.

Following the “Snap” (or “Blip” as it’s officially called in the film), Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is still mourning the loss of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Stark’s memory looms over the whole film, affecting Peter throughout as he finds shrines and reminders of his mentor that seem to follow him everywhere he goes. Peter decides to take a break from being Spider-Man to enjoy a school trip to Europe, but much like the shrines of Tony, trouble seems to follow him everywhere. Peter gets tangled up in a mission from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) involving Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), aka Mysterio, a hero from another dimension who is going after the Elementals, a group of monsters terrorizing Europe and threatening the world. Peter, however, just wants to have a normal vacation while trying to woo his crush MJ (Zendaya).

The best Spider-Man stories focus on the duality between Peter Parker’s personal life and Spider-Man’s responsibility as a hero. Far From Home does just that, with Peter doing his best to juggle his vacation with his friends and his responsibility as Spider-Man, helping to defeat the Elementals, in an outstanding performance by Holland. With Tony gone and Fury too focused on making Peter the next Iron Man, Peter finds a mentor figure in Gyllenhaal’s Beck. Beck helps Peter by providing words of encouragement, but comics fans will know that there is much more to Mysterio’s character than there seems. However, those same fans may be surprised to discover that Mysterio’s origin story has been changed drastically, but it is done is such a way that fits the character while also firmly tying into the greater MCU.

A large part of the film revolves around Peter struggling to be the person Tony wanted him to be—or at least the person he thinks Tony wanted him to be. Throughout the film, Peter states repeatedly that he is not ready to follow in Tony’s footsteps to become the next Iron Man, the next heroic figure, he sees himself only as a local hero. He’s frequently facing pressure from Fury to either step up and be the Avenger Tony knew he could be or walk away for good. The arc culminates in an emotional scene that kicks off the third act that is reminiscent of the first Iron Man film, when Tony was building his suit.

The cast deliver strong performances all round, with an especially standout performance from Gyllenhaal. Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend Ned is fantastic, with the actor displaying excellent comedic timing. Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan and Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May shine as well, as do Jackson’s Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill. Zendaya as MJ brings a quirky awkwardness, snark, and a curious sense for the macabre to the role that’s just downright charming. It’s great to see her get more to do than in Homecoming, and it’d be even better to see her get more to do in upcoming films. Tom Holland gives an emotional performance as Peter Parker both inside the Spidey suit and out of it. His performance not only delivers heart, but comedy, heroism, pain, and mourning as well. Holland’s casting as Spider-Man is nothing short of inspired.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a thoroughly entertaining film. It’s a great end to the MCU’s Phase 3, and perfect for getting you excited for Phase 4 of the MCU. The film’s action sequences, especially in the third act, are some of Marvel’s most visually stunning, and could stand toe-to-toe with Doctor Strange’s visuals. Far From Home offers up the qualities of the best Spider-Man stories: exciting action, quirky humor, clever social critique, and most importantly, it has heart. Also, there’s a mid-credits scene that had me nearly jumping out of my seat with excitement.

9/10

(Images: Sony/Marvel)

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