If you’re looking for closure from the events of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s operatic Infinity saga, you don’t have to look any further than ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’. And if you were in the camp that thought the MCU needed a longer break before taking us back to the theatres, think again.
Mixing high-school road trip hijinks with some mid-level-stakes drama, ‘Far From Home’ is the perfect antidote to the more sombre events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and serves as, most of us knew it would, a bridge to the next phase of the MCU. But if you’re looking for some direct clues as to what’s coming next, you’re not definitely getting any straightforward answers.
‘Far From Home’ is more interested in answering any lingering questions you may have about ‘Endgame’ — especially the post-double-Snap reality of a Tony Stark-less world — and also setting up a more concrete vision for future Spider-Man films, and it does both exceedingly well.
In his sophomore solo adventure, Peter Parker heads to Europe with a returning cast of friends — Ned (Jacob Batalon) and crush MJ (Zendaya) — on a school science trip, hoping for a break from all the madness and heartache that he’s very recently experienced. But he finds out soon enough that he can’t shake his superhero responsibilities just by leaving his Spidey suit behind at home, as Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) soon follows on his heels to remind him of those very same responsibilities and to bequeath him with a special gift from the late Tony Stark himself.
When ‘Homecoming’ came out, we were particularly happy that director Jon Watts and the writer’s room had decided to walk away from telling the origin story yet again. In all of Holland’s appearances as Spidey, not once was his late Uncle Ben mentioned.
‘Far From Home’ makes it more clear why. Tony Stark is the spiritual equivalent of other Spider-Man stories’ Uncle Ben. While Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker is haunted by his Uncle Ben’s tragic death, Holland’s wall-crawler shoulders the weight of Tony Stark’s expectations of him. It’s a heavy burden, and most of of ‘Far From Home’ is devoted to young Spidey weighing these expectations against his own place in the world. It’s a familiar Spider-Man story, told in an entirely fresh way, and it completely works here.
The movie does take its time setting up its main event — which we won’t spoil here — and the writing in the first act could have definitely used less exposition. But once ‘Far From Home’ finds its rhythm, it is unstoppable. The jokes keep on coming, the action sequences are exhilarating and we have Jake Gyllenhaal playing a perfect Mysterio. Sure, we all had our doubts about Gyllenhaal playing a fishbowl-helmet-wearing costumey-hero, but he pulls it off with the right amount of earnestness and camp.
One of the best takeaways from the movie comes from the action sequences of the second half. I’d go as far as to say that the movie features the best comic book-y fight sequence to ever have been shown on the big screen yet. Watching Spider-Man do his thing in one European city after the other is extremely entertaining and some of the later stuff looks like its bringing together the vibes of ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ and ‘Doctor Strange’, swerving from the amazing and spectacular to the psychedelic and weird. It’s a heady mix.
Also keep your eyes peeled for Zendaya. Her MJ is smart and morbidly cool without being in-your-face about it. She brings a calm restraint to her performance that instantly elevates every scene she is in, especially when played against Holland’s klutzy and anxious energy. The two share a beautiful, easygoing and more traditional kind of chemistry that looks so natural onscreen, I’d like to see the two actors do an indie romance movie together sometime.
Barring some first act issues and a near-miss teachable moment on the perils of fake news, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is a resounding success. Entrenched deeply in the MCU lore — you’ll see nods to movies from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Captain Marvel’, so make sure you’re all caught up — but also setting up its own little universe (especially with a mid-credit scene that lands like a sucker punch), ‘Far From Home’ comes close to being one of the best Spidey stories ever told, barring the unparalleled ‘Into the Spider-Verse’.
Don’t miss it!
‘Spider-Man’: Far From Home is out in the UAE on July 4.