“You don’t want any part of this.”
After the bittersweet conclusion to the Marvel machine’s main story line in Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a much needed breath of fresh air and somewhat of a palette cleanser. Dealing with the death of his mentor and father figure, Tony Stark, the film sees Tom Holland’s wall crawler coming to terms with what it means when the world thinks he is the next Iron Man. As well as this, Peter finds a new friend and father figure in Mysterio, a weird and magical hero supposedly from an alternate earth. But is he everything he says he is…
Picking up 8 months after the events of Endgame, which saw the deaths or end of Iron Man, Black Widow, and Captain America, Far From Home starts by recapping this in a hilarious student made montage (comic sans and all). The snap is being called ‘the blip’ (expect that name to stick around) and we get a bit of clarity on what actually happened to the people caught up in it. Peter and most of his friends were blipped, meaning they came back 5 years later, exactly the same age as when they left, when Hulk re-snapped the gauntlet in Endgame. It’s all just a little too neat; nobody really addresses the trauma faced by those who lived for the 5 hellish years thinking their friends and families were dead (exact for in a couple of jokes and Happy’s ‘blip beard’) but those are questions that are gonna need their own movie or TV show. The film handles it lightly and through the lens of high school kids, which is appropriate for the film and does lead to some hilarious moments (Peter’s teacher talking about how they held a fake funeral for the wife he thought was blipped but who was actually cheating on him had me in stitches). The pressures of being a super hero are mounting and Peter just wants to be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. With a school vacation to Europe, Peter sees his chance to catch a break from the hero business and focus on being a teenager again. That was never going to happen however, as Peter’s trip is disrupted by the appearance of monsters called ‘elementals’ and a strange new hero, called Quentin Beck.
First things first, Tom Holland absolutely kills it as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Speaking as someone who always believed the Raimi Spider-Man to be the best version of the wall-crawler ever put to screen, Holland’s quickly become the definitive portrayal of Spider-Man for me. He nails the nerdy awkwardness of a high school kid and no actor who has come before has nailed the balance between normal kid and superhero Stan Lee wrote about in the comics. In that same vein, it was hugely entertaining to see a fan favourite (and difficult to adapt) villain brought to life in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. 2019 sees Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, Joaquin Pheonix as The Joker, what’s next, Sean Penn as Paste Pot Pete? It just goes to show the hold comic book movies have on the wider culture, even the ‘serious’ actors are trying their hand at roles. Gyllenhaal has a lot of fun with the roll as the frustrated ex-Stark employee playing hero. It’s a completely unique take on a villain’s story and the ramifications of his evil scheme extend way past the end of his story.
The film isn’t too serious and has little effect on the MCU as a whole outside the world of Spider-Man. This might be a let down after the world changing ramifications of some of the previous entries but for most it’ll come as a funny and refreshing breather between the big, world altering plots. However, within the world of Spider-Man, there are some massive changes coming his way. Without spoiling anything, this comes mainly from one post credit scene which sees the return of an unexpected character and the drop of a huge and controversial reveal. But as it stands, the pre-credit film is one of Marvel’s most entertaining. The stakes aren’t particularly high but the action is fun and frenetic (Jon Watts ups his game since Homecoming) , the humour lands nearly all the time, and the performances are top notch (Gyllenhaal is especially outstanding). With this film, we see the end of Marvel’s phase 3, and what a enjoyable note to go out on.
Reviewed by Tom.