fives’s review published on Letterboxd:
Here he comes again... that guy who can't shut up about Spider-Man... like, just enjoy the movies, you nerd!!
Alright, alright. This will be pretty much the same thing as last time same thing as last time (but longer!). Far From Home and Homecoming are sorta tied for me. There's a lot I like, and a lot I don't like. But both films are effortlessly entertaining, and, despite some major concerns, how Spider-Man connects into the larger MCU is done in a very solid way.
Once again, using this character's films as a way to show how the everyday-folks are dealing with what's happening in the super-hero world is pretty great. Here, it gives us some info on "The Blip" event and makes the universe feel more lived-in.
Some things were done BETTER in Homecoming. For instance, this film is funny, but its predecessor was funnier. That one had more minor Spider-Man details that I absolutely loved (talked about those in my review linked above), though, here, they were almost non-existent. As I've said, I like the connections to the universe a lot, but it inherently takes away some of what I love about Spider-Man. The first film balanced that better, I think. In this sequel, there was too much SHIELD stuff that didn't feel as natural to this story, considering how many other heroes could be in Spider-Man's place. Of course, the plot benefited from that, but it was still not as organically inserted into the story as the "New York Battle" leftovers in Homecoming. AND, Tony Stark's figure was even more present here than in that film, somehow!
Sure, the reason why it is what it is makes sense, and I think it fit Peter's hero arc decently well, but this obsession with Stark being the ONLY figure Peter is genuinely inspired by (GENUINELY, not in a "wow Thor is so strong!" kinda way) on these films is absolutely heartbreaking to me. The evidence? In the illusion sequence, a scene that specifically shows Peter Parker's insecurities, there is a moment featuring a GRAVE, where Mysterio reveals the fact that Parker blames himself for the death of someone. And, it is revealed to be, you guessed it. TONY STARK. A man whose death had absolutely NOTHING to do with Peter's actions or capabilities. You know where I'm tryna get to here, right? The worst part of all this, is that this moment would be the PERFECT way to "introduce" Uncle Ben into this universe. I LOVE (capitalize that twice!) how Homecoming strayed from the "Spider-Man origin story package" and avoided retelling Ben's death, but showing Peter's guilt from that event without showing said death would be BRILLIANT without giving away too much. Hell, his name on the grave would even be a pay-off from an easter egg showed earlier in the movie! Plus, it would be a natural addition to the film's thematic core (more on that soon). Arrgh, the missed opportunities!!
*Sigh*, but, yes, some things were done BETTER in Far From Home. I think this one big combination of the Europe settings + Spider-Man's powers (and his many suits!) + Mysterio's VFX spectacles made this film better paced, and more creative, action-wise, than Homecoming. That one was pretty pleasant to watch, visually speaking, but the final battle wasn't as eye-catching as the rest of the film. In this one, the final battle is more colorful, and full of cool little tricks. And, of course, the illusions and whatnot are very fun. I just really like how dynamic the action is. The romance with Liz in the first film wasn't well-executed, in my opinion, neither was MJ's character. Here, that's all gone. I LOVE the chemistry between Zendaya and Tom, it's very realistic and her portrayal of the character is much more likable now. We could've gotten a litte more info on how Peter came to like her, but that's ok, the rest of the relationship made up for that. Now, Vulture is still one of the best MCU villains, and Michael Keaton nailed that role. But, Mysterio, boyyy, do I love Mysterio. Gyllenhaal brought so much energy to this villain, his performance was a true delight. The entire characterization was pretty perfect as well, just an enourmous douchebag that is so endlessly fun to watch. Both villains are on the same level for me, and one thing that I adore is how they start off as "Stark haters", but, by the end, they have developed a personal rivalry with the wall-crawler. Speaking of which...
Peter Parker (and Spider-Man), how was he handled here? Homecoming's biggest misstep was not developing him enough, or, at least, not in any significant way. I think Far From Home has this advantage over its predecessor: Peter goes through an actual arc here. Responsibility is a big deal now, ultimately becoming the film's main theme -- which, once again, is a reminder of how VERY infuriating it is that they didn't touch on Uncle Ben -- and exploring it in a solid way. But it could've been much better (and not just because there was no Ben). I said he had an ACTUAL arc, not a particular GREAT one. Minor/smaller-scale consequences are still not present, unfortunately, so all of Peter's concerns about making a mistake are directed at his super-hero life. Honestly, I'd argue his teenage life is pretty damn amazing so far, all things considered. And, well... that takes away a lot of my own emotional connection to the character. There are a bunch of relatable moments, but his problems are barely real and/or long-lasting. However, the "failing to live up to the legends" side of the arc is at least executed well. The protagonist's biggest mistake in the film actually comes back to bite him in ass by the end, and it was SOME consequence, wasn't it? But, still. I look forward to the everyday difficulties as much as the exciting action when it comes to this guy.
For me, the best way to encapsulate the MCU iteration of the friendly neighborhood is: an INCREDIBLE Spider-Man story, but a VERY (emphasizing, VERY) lacking Peter Parker story. I love the SUPER, but I wish we could get more of the HERO.
(Expectations for No Way Home? I want it to be special. Keep the other two films' charm, but make it more dramatic. More human. More tragic. Kill Ned, if necessary! No, don't actually do that. ...they could kill Aunt May though... eh? Just... just end it on a high note, alright? All I ask for. Give me a reason to say I love this version of Spidey).