Note: This review contains major spoilers for Far From Home
While Spider-Man: Homecoming was about Peter wanting to be more like Iron Man, Far From Home is about Peter’s wish regretfully fulfilled. After the events of Avengers: Endgame resulted in the death of some of the world’s biggest heroes, including Tony Stark, Spider-Man quickly becomes one of the biggest heroes on the planet by default. Peter just wants to have one Summer where he doesn’t want everyone putting the world on his shoulders. Not to mention seeing Iron Man’s face plastered everywhere he goes – a grime reminder of his internalized failure and guilt.
Especially when him and his classmates only just returned after their five year absence now called “The Blip,” due to those returning having not aged. This event is only covered in the movie briefly, showcasing the billions displaced, the students now forced to repeat the year of high school they didn’t finish, and a few jokes about these 16 year old students still not technically being of drinking age. To unwind from this craziness, they all go to Europe for the Summer as a class. You can think of this movie as the Washington Monument sequence from Homecoming stretched to feature length with giant monsters, Mysterio, and teen romance thrown into the mix. While the overall staging and framing of the movie is still a bit flat due to the direction of Jon Watts and how Marvel Studios functions, most of the action scenes are still engaging and thrilling enough to make up for it. Especially those involving Mysterio and his illusions.
The real strength of Far From Home though is the internal conflict Tom Holland shows playing Peter Parker along with the supporting cast of characters. While this movie might feel like a retread of Peter’s arc in Homecoming in relation to Tony Stark, it’s more externalized as the world itself is pushing him towards becoming more like Iron Man rather than himself. Tom Holland really sells the frustration of Peter Parker wanting a normal Summer, the vulnerability of a teenager trying to move past a recent tragedy, and a boy wanting to admit his feelings to the girl he likes.
Him and Zendaya really show off their chemistry with one another with Zendaya especially showcasing more range as an awkward teenager, who cloaks herself in cynicism to hide her true feelings from others – especially Peter. Jacob Batalon and Angourie Rice are fun bouncing off one another as a surprise couple to the annoyance of Peter. Tony Revolori shows a more emotionally vulnerable Flash Thompson, as it is revealed he is the archetypal rich kid with absent parents. Shown through a concerned text message to his mother and being picked up at the end of the movie by his butler. Remy Hii is introduced playing Peter’s romantic rival to frustrating effect as he plays an opportunistic jerk attempting woo MJ. However, I feel like we’ll be seeing more of him in the future, since I doubt his rivalry with Peter will end here.
As for the man of mystery himself, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a delightfully egotistical and narcissistic Quentin Beck, bent on crowning himself the greatest superhero in the world. Yes, like with the comic books, Mysterio is a villain macerating as a hero. It’s actually impressive how they played his hero act so straight in both the marketing and movie itself you’d be forgiven for not seeing the twist coming – even as a fan. Gyllenhaal really plays up the manipulative, big-brother role towards Peter to the point that you end up hating him just as much as our hero does by the end of the movie.
While the character doesn’t have nearly as much depth or nuance as Michael Keaton playing The Vulture, he makes up for it by being far more manic and entertaining. As stated earlier, his action scenes are some of the best and most imaginative in the entire franchise. Think of Stephen Strange being flung through multiple dimensions or those crazy-ass Scarecrow levels from Batman: Arkham Asylum. They manage to update the character in an interesting way by him working with an entire production staff instead of just himself. A callback to his Hollywood roots from the comics as he rehearses with them on a literal sound stage and even has a lady preparing his costume for “live” performances. While I was a tad frustrated that he was ultimately revealed to be yet another villain inadvertently created by Stark, it did tie into Peter’s relationship with his legacy well. Going further with this legacy taking the physical form of a pair of glasses, the running MacGuffin of this movie, that both Beck and Peter end up fighting over.
However, the functionality of these glasses aren’t completely clear throughout the movie. For example, when Peter gives the glasses to Beck, he has to manually confirm to EDITH, the AI in the glasses, a transfer of ownership, but in the climax, he simply takes them back from Beck and puts them back on without the need to go through that process again. However, this could be hand-waved as part of Mysterio’s final plan, shown during what might be the most important post-credit scene in the entire MCU. After Spider-Man seemingly has his life together, swinging with MJ through New York, a news report is blasted in Times Square with Mysterio framing Spider-Man as the bad guy and revealing his secret-identity to the entire world. More shocking is the one delivering the news – J. K. Simmons returning as a modernized J. Jonah Jameson.
While I was disgruntled that they would waste such a storyline so early in this Spider-Man’s career, they can easily undo it by Peter proving to the world that Mysterio is a fake. In the mean time, this opens new story opportunities for the sequel, considering in Homecoming Mac Gargan was gunning for his true identity in order to kill him. Now that the secret is out, Peter is going to have to keep himself and his loved ones safe. Which could lead to a tonally darker movie than we’ve seen thus far. Heck, Peter could even execute the classic superhero scenario in which someone else wears his costume to clear his name, which could be easily done with the reveal of the second post-credit scene.
One of the oddest (yet, satisfying) parts of this movie was Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, now running what appears to be a small a rag-tag team of mercenaries. But, throughout the movie, he seems…off. Out of character. Being far too insistent on Peter helping with such an end of the world scenario and believing Beck’s multiverse story with zero suspicion. But, this out of character behavior is revealed to have been intentional when it’s revealed to have been Talos from Captain Marvel the entire time. While the ending may be played off as a joke, the implication of Fury’s current position is staggering both in and out of universe. As we’re shown he’s on a massive spaceship filled with Skrulls in a leadership position and only one thing comes to mind as a comic book reader: SWORD. The sister organization to SHIELD dedicated to addressing cosmic and alien threats against Earth. It would also potentially mark the very first FOX property integrated into the MCU.
While I feel like I enjoyed this movie more than its predecessor, it had more apparent flaws on the surface. The pacing was a slog leading into the trip to Europe, especially during their pit stops along the way, the globe-trotting aspect felt like poor window dressing with the only countries that didn’t feel like cheap visits being Italy and Prague. The rest felt like they either filmed on sound stages or a quick day on location. Despite these small bumps, they don’t hinder Far From Home from being a fun ride and one of the best superhero movies to come out this year.