Spider-man: Far From Home

Quentin Beck: "Don't ever apologize for being the smartest one in the room."

Half teen romp in Europe, half superhero extravaganza, this is most definitely unlike any Spider-man movie we have ever seen.

While tonally hewing closer to Spider-man: Homecoming, this installment (which is the third version of a Spider-man sequel) was a lot of fun. I won’t go into spoilers, especially when I talk about characters. However, I did want to mention how this particular version of Spider-man is now the most prolific on film having been in five movies to date (Captain America: Civil War, Spider-man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and now this movie). I don’t know how many appearances Tom Holland signed up for but since the producers and director are already talking a Spider-man 3 I would assume at least one more.

As far as spectacle goes, this was bigger than the Homecoming, but more intimate than Infinity War or Endgame, with an adversary that creates personal stakes for Peter. His friends are more fleshed out, especially Michele and Ned. Ned continues to be a wonderful foil for Peter and a true friend and confidant. While Ned does get his own plot in this one, it was played up more for fun and acts as mostly comic relief between moments of drama and action.

Michele, now MJ, is officially a new version of the comic book character Mary Jane Watson and Peter’s main romantic interest. Peter does spend a majority of the movie pining for her and trying to figure out how to tell her how he feels, she isn’t there to be his reward for being a hero. She is strong and independent, her personality is clearly defined and consistent. She has a eclectic and somewhat dark sense of style and humor, and yet is not afraid to be feminine. She has agency and she’s willing to run into danger to protect those she cares about. I wasn’t so sure about her in the last movie, but she might be my favorite character in this one.

The rest of Peter’s group of friends also had moments to shine, especially Betty Brandt and their poor put-upon teacher Mr. Harrington. Flash Thompson isn’t given much to do, but his few moments stood out and even managed to give the character a bit of pathos. Marisa Tomei (Aunt May) and Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan) have a fun subplot that gave each enough screen time, without distracting from the core characters or action. Happy Hogan in particular had some truly wonderful moments as a character we have known for over a decade.

There are three more important characters that I would want to address, but I can’t go into much detail for spoiler reasons. The first is Maria Hill, whose screen time was minimal but had some appropriately kick ass moments. Next was Nick Fury, who wasn’t as fun as he was in Captain Marvel, but was still a highlight. Then there is Quentin Beck, as the mysterious dimension-jumping hero Mysterio. The less said about this character the better, but I have to give Jake Gyllenhaal a lot of credit for making him as three dimensional as he is.

Of course, I have to mention Tom Holland’s performance as Peter. He continues to be the best part of these movies, with this earnest delivery and easy likability. He conveys Peter’s geekiness without overdoing it; he seems genuinely sweet and a little naive and yet manages to be believable when he shows his intelligence. While he spends a majority of this film trying to escape being a hero and just be a kid for a few minutes. Which is understandable for a sixteen year old who was erased from existence for five years, lost his father figure and fought against Thanos… twice. His defining characteristic is that he is good, almost to a fault. That’s just as powerful as repeating the mantra; "With great power comes great responsibility."

There is also the fact that this film is more than just a sequel to Spider-man: Homecoming. It is also the movie directly following Avengers: Endgame, and of course it has some big shoes to fill as a coda, epilogue and glimpse into the next phase of the MCU. Thankfully it succeeds by addressing the aftermath of that movie head on, and uses the fallout to give all the characters some emotional weight. Yet it also lets itself poke fun at those same consequences, the bizarre and somewhat absurd ways in which the world changed due to what happened in Endgame. I honestly have no idea how this film managed to pull all of that off and still be good.

Bits:

Kevin Feige has stated that Mr. Harrington was in fact the computer geek in the Incredible Hulk. While that is a bit of a recon, it’s about as bad as saying Peter was the kid in the Iron Man mask in Iron Man 2.

While it goes without saying that you should watch the after credits scenes, this time I must insist you stay until the end of the credits. While both scenes are fun, they are also massively important to the MCU as a whole going forward.

Each of the elemental monsters that show up in this film correspond to classic Spider-man enemies while they are never called by name.

Peter wears four different Spider-man costumes in this film. Four. That's insane.

Quotes:

Nick Fury: "We have a job to do, and you're coming with us."
Peter Parker: "There's gotta be someone else you can use. What about Thor?"
Nick Fury: "Off-world."
Peter Parker: "Doctor Strange."
Maria Hill: "Unavailable."
Peter Parker: "Captain Marvel."
Nick Fury: "Don't you invoke her name!"
Peter Parker: "I'm just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."
Nick Fury: "Bitch, please! You've been to space."

This was nearly a perfect coda to the Infinity War saga and a fitting end to the first ten years of the MCU. While it does set up some new things, and is a game changer for Spider-man in particular, it feels like a lovely epilogue to a huge franchise.

4 out of 4 Giant elemental monsters taken down by a man with a fishbowl on his head.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

2 comments:

Diogo said...

I really like this movie, and a lot more than Homecoming. While I like homecoming, I think Peter's motivations there were very shallow (instead of Great Power, Great Responsibility, he just wanted to impress Mr Stark to become an Avenger) and he was just so incompetent (having consistently to be saved by Iron Man), he didn't really feel like Spider-Man for most of it, and the action scenes were lackluster. This movie solved every single one of those problems.

Also, the main villain is one of my favorite villains in the comics, and I absolutely loved what the movie did with that character, who is now also one of my favorite MCU villains.

Aaron Studer said...

I agree with the general consensus that Far From Home rectifies a few issues from Homecoming, namely Peter doesn't really have an arc in that film other than he wants to join The Avengers, and that being Spider-Man is just a fun side gig to him. In Far From Home, I really was captivated this time around by Peter's efforts to indulge in a much-needed vacation from all of this superhero business, yet can't quite seem to break away fully. Mysterio is easily one of the absolute best aspects of this film, with one of his sequences where he plays against Peter being one of my very favorite scenes in the entirety of the MCU. I won't spoil it here, but for me, it was literally the comic book panels bought to life. I'm still a little unsure as to why the Spider-Man series is playing it coy as to whether or not Zendaya's character is the MCU's interpretation of MJ; until something else says otherwise though, I'm just going to accept that she is in fact that character, because she brings much more personality and wit into her character here in Far From Home than in Homecoming, and her chemistry with Tom Holland definitely helps her case. I feel this film though could have benefited from a slightly more serious tone, as its comic relief and humorous moments mostly felt out-of-place, and the jokes just weren't landing for me the way Marvel usually lands humor in films like Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man and the Wasp.