“You have to decide if you’re going to step up or not.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming was a different kind of Spider-Man movie than the ones released before it. With Peter Parker’s introduction to the MCU, we found ourselves with a young, fairly inexperienced hero suddenly thrust into the world of superheroics. This Peter has fought Thanos, been to space, watched his mentor die before him, heck, Peter himself has “died” too.
All these elements are consequential in Spider-Man: Far From Home, his second solo outing in the MCU, directly following the universe-altering events of Endgame. We find Peter back with his high school crew of Ned, Flash, and MJ, ready to embark on a summer vacation to Europe and get away from heroics for a little while. But that was never really going to happen, was it?
While in Europe, Peter witnesses a monster attacking a city, only to be stopped by Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, a sorcerer of sorts working with Nick Fury to stop the Elementals. Peter then has no choice but to suit up and aid in this mission, all while trying to enjoy his trip and win MJ’s heart.
There is a LOT that happens in Far From Home. Any concerns about this feeling too inconsequential after Endgame should be immediately put to rest; though it takes a little while to really get going, FFH is non-stop until even after the credits roll (I cannot overstate this: FFH has the single best post-credits scene in the MCU). This movie is full of twists and turns, telling a story that is very satisfying in its surprising nature.
It’s also the most naturally funny MCU movie since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with jokes very rarely feeling forced. And believe me, there are jokes and zingers aplenty. It’s easy to get lost in the spectacle and forget that these are high schoolers, all of them packing their own brand of comedy.
Speaking of spectacle, the set pieces in this movie are routinely thrilling. The Elementals are massive and destructive, tearing apart beautiful cities by sheer force. Mysterio also looks amazing in action, using magic and flying around with grace. I was awestruck throughout every action sequence in this film.
Most importantly, though, is that Far From Home actually feels like a complete movie, not just a sequel setting up another sequel (though it does that too). You genuinely care about this group of characters, none so more than Peter. Tom Holland is terrific in this movie, showing humor, fear, sorrow, confidence, and emotional turmoil in equal turn with conviction. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man we’ve had on the screen, and it’s not even close. Jake Gyllenhaal also leaves his mark as Mysterio, clearly enjoying this mysterious and bombastic role. As a lifelong Spider-Fan, I was worried about Mysterio ever working as a character in live action, but director Jon Watts and company make it look easy.
If you weren’t a fan of Homecoming, Far From Home is probably not going to change your mind about this version of Spider-Man. However, if you follow the direction Watts and Marvel are steering this character, you will find one of the most rewarding superhero experiences around. With thrilling action, lots of humor, surprises around every turn, and some genuine emotion, Spider-Man: Far From Home has it all. Though it takes a little bit to find its groove, this is easily one of the MCU’s strongest entries once it gets started. It’s possibly the strongest live-action Spider-Man film to date, living up to its great responsibilities.
Directed by: Jon Watts
Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Favreau, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon
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