Well, just a few months after Avengers: Endgame, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back for his European tour.
When Marvel’s schedule of movies was revealed, Spider-Man: Far From Home felt like kind of an afterthought to Avengers: Endgame (not to mention a spoiler that Peter Parker was alive). But I’m telling you now, having seen it, it is not. This movie is Marvel in top form. In fact, I believe this Spider-Man is the best first and second movie combination of any Marvel series by far. Yes, including Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy.
My rating: 5 out of 5.
There is so much great to say about this movie that I hardly know where to start, but I think I can say a few non-spoilery things that stood out. Also, be sure to stay to the end of the credits. I think that may have been the most plot-relevant post-credits scene we’ve seen in years.
The first great thing about this film is that when you see it, it’s clear why Far From Home is considered the last movie of Marvel’s Phase Three rather than Endgame. This movie is very much about the aftermath of the fight against Thanos and how the world–and Peter Parker in particular–is getting back on its feet. While the main plot revolves around Mysterio and the Elementals, it’s also about Peter recovery, his mistakes, and his struggle (including with himself) to be a hero. It’s definitely a better Spider-Man 2 than the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 2, and it addresses a lot of the issues in Iron Man 3 better than Iron Man 3 did. Yet it does also kick off Phase Four in some subtle ways.
So, what’s the deal here? The short version is that Peter Parker is going on a class trip to Europe, and he just wants a nice, quiet vacation and to finally get together with MJ. But he is also being recruited by Nick Fury to fight bad guys, which he really doesn’t want to do right now. He feels like he is under too much pressure to fill Tony Stark’s shoes, and he (sensibly) argues that there must be someone better for the job.
One weak point of the story, even after seeing the whole thing, is that it’s not entirely clear why Peter has to step up and be the new face of the Avengers, or even just the one to fight the Elementals. Peter asks after a few of the other heroes, who are all unavailable, but not all of them, and even at the most conservative, what about Bucky, Falcon, and War Machine? (And that’s not even counting spin-off characters like Quake and Daredevil.) I suppose as the tech genius of the team, he is Tony’s successor in some ways, but it doesn’t make sense for him to be the point man.
Still, this movie is about Peter and Tony, and you definitely see that executed well. The relationship between the two, even with one of them gone, really drives the emotional arc of the story. I don’t really want to give any more away, but it is a passing of the torch in a way I didn’t know I needed.
The other great thing about this movie is that the writing is masterful. All the little details—the call-backs to Spider-Man: Homecoming and more—give you the feeling that this is a Spider-Man movie, not just a Marvel movie. The continuity of style is seamless to a degree that few other MCU movies can match—with a few Easter eggs to help it along the way.
And that’s not all. When you see the ending, there are so many little things throughout the story that suddenly make sense—so many that this may be the first movie I ever watch a second time just to spot all the things I missed the first go around. I think I actually learned something about writing from this movie even before watching any YouTube reviews, and that doesn’t often happen. It’s the kind of perfect execution that gives you a reaction of “Why didn’t I see that before?!” A mystery story hidden under the main plot, that you didn’t even know was there. (How long does it take you to spot it?)
Bonus (and still not too spoilery, I think): keep a lookout for Spider-Man’s nemesis in the press, J. Jonah Jameson, played by J. K. Simmons from the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man. Changing him from a yellow journalism newspaper editor to a radical, Alex Jones-style internet podcaster was sheer genius and really helps sell the reinvention of the series in a modern style. (And honestly, the whole plot did, too.)