scottstreet’s review published on Letterboxd:
Spider-Man: Summer of Love
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, everything in Peter Parker's life has changed. He has lost his mentor, his secret identity is pretty much known by everyone he cares about, and he has to deal with the baggage that comes after you die and come back to life, and everyone you love also died and came back to life. That's a lot to put on a 17 year old, and for the first time in the history of the MCU, the weight of responsibility seems to overwhelm him. He is not a superhero first and kid second anymore, but just a teen who wants to have one normal summer.
The trauma and grief is obvious in Tom Holland's portrayal. The quips and jokes are still there, Spider-Man is there, but he feels detached from Peter. He has to see the face of the person who trusted him everywhere he goes, has to deal with people calling him "the next Iron Man" and of course fill the Tony Stark shaped hole in his soul. Enter Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio and Zendaya's MJ.
Both of them are different ways Peter chooses to deal with trauma. MJ has been interested in Peter for a while now. She learns he is Spider-Man quite easily but she still sees him as Peter. She helps him re-realize Spider-Man is just a mask. The real hero is Peter Parker. She loves him for Peter, and for Spider-Man, and she feels like her own character, and this honestly makes their relationship the most genuine one of the MCU.
Mysterio, in many ways, is the next Tony Stark. He is a genius, has charisma for days, and he trusts Peter, and unlike Stark, doesn't treat him like a kid, thus earning Peter's love and admiration. Gyllenhaal plays Mysterio like the cool uncle, and it makes his turn even more devastating. It's that turn, though, that makes Peter realize that he has to take that responsibility. He might not be the next Iron Man, but he is Spider-Man. With great power comes great responsibility, and this film doesn't need to shove that down our throats to have it as the underlying message.