Spider-Man: Far from Home

Spider-Man: Far from Home ★★

What's the point of bringing Spider-Man into the MCU if you're just going to turn him into any other Avengers kind of superhero? Spider-Man: Far From Home is honestly just a movie that has no idea what Spider-Man is supposed to be. There is such a running theme in Jon Watts' second Spider-Man movie of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) proclaiming that he just wants to be "a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man" and someone like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) or Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) tell him that he has to step up and fill the void left by Tony Stark. Or, they pretend like he has a choice, but we all know that he doesn't. The appeal of Spider-Man was that he was this scrappy DIY kind of hero who we could all be. He wasn't some super gadgeted, saving the end of the world kind of superhero like Thor or Captain America. And yet all Far From Home wants to do is move him away from the foundations of the character and turn him into that.

Which, for starters, Far From Home is probably the movie that most feels the awkwardness of the "where are the rest of the Avengers?" problem. The logic of this movie is so flimsy, and the much-lauded post-credits scene that explains why a certain character was conveniently behaving with so much less intelligence than we know they have throughout the movie throws absolutely everything into complete disarray and makes the logic of this movie fall apart even harder. Far From Home honestly feels like a movie where they weren't even trying, which is so frustrating and disappointing, because they had the opportunity to really do something here. The way that they address the very reasonable questions with the ramifications of the Snap reversal in Endgame is so flippant and disrespectful, essentially laughing it off and walking away from the giant holes in logic that they opened up with that can of worms.

More frustrating than that is really just the fact that the movie so quickly turns into this massive showdown of world-ending proportions that is so far off the scale that a Spider-Man movie should be, leading into a climactic final battle that is exactly the kind of nonsensical CGI mishmash that all bleeds together incoherently that you don't want the action sequences in these movies to ever be. Far From Home could have been a palate cleanser after Endgame, a return to something simpler, more grounded and stand-alone, but instead it wanted to fill the shoes of what was left before by adding on some weird epilogue with a character who they honestly haven't given enough personality or dimension to yet to really earn this position.

That being said, it's not all bad. What they do with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, who is pretty great here and at times hilarious) is honestly pretty interesting, even if not entirely successful. I'll avoid spoilers here, but for people familiar with the character and the marketing of the movie, they make some moves here that everyone expected while also doing it in some ways that are surprising and open up some interesting ideas about the state of the world and the ramifications of the existence of superheroes and the lionizing of someone like Tony Stark. They definitely don't explore that to the extent that they should, and there's some elements of this angle that tie in directly to Stark and to his history that feel really shoehorned in and callback to some of the Iron Man 3 plot mechanics in really unfavorable ways.

Nevertheless, this is a rare Marvel movie that is trying to do something interesting and unique with its villain, and just the ambition of that is refreshing in a franchise that has leaned so hard on a well-worn formula for so long. Having Mysterio around also allows the movie to really do some new and wild stuff with its visual effects and its action sequences, and that was really refreshing and fun to see. There's one particular sequence rooted to the character and his abilities that is easily the standout sequence of the movie, and one of the best, most immersive and fairly terrifying things that the MCU has ever done, which anyone who has seen the movie knows exactly what I'm talking about.

In addition to the Mysterio stuff being at least interesting, if not working entirely, one of the more frustrating facts about how much this movie feels too big for a Spider-Man movie is the fact that the stuff with the kids is honestly pretty good. There's a lot of good comedy here, particularly from Jacob Batalon and Angourie Rice, but also Zendaya gets an upgraded role and delivers a great performance. Her and Tom Holland have tremendous chemistry together, and I found myself enjoying their scenes far more than perhaps any romantic pairing in the MCU to date, which was a nice surprise. They really bring an authenticity to the idea of these two awkward high school kids falling for each other, and I would have loved to have seen more of that and less of the explosions and world-threatening calamity.

And really, along with that basic misunderstanding of what Spider-Man is supposed to be comes the continuation of linking him so directly to Tony Stark and the fact that this leads to them incorporating SO MUCH technology. It was a big problem in Homecoming, but it's so much worse here. I get that this franchise is really trying to milk the idea of Stark as Parker's mentor, and continuing on with that dynamic and the new ramifications of that in light of Endgame isn't a bad idea conceptually, but they still inhibit Parker from finding his own way, leaning him so much on Stark, and so much on his tech that just turns Spider-Man into a kind of proxy Iron Man, and it just doesn't work. And god, I could have done with so much less of the Happy Hogan/Aunt May gag. The mid-credits scene is a fucking gem though, one of the absolute best credits scenes in the MCU.

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