Reeling from the events of Avengers: Endgame, it’s fair to think that Marvel’s next outing would aim to answer some of the questions raised in the highest grossing film of all time. Instead, Marvel has taken the alternate route and hit us with a film that does not go out of its way to answer these questions – and rather draws a line under everything encouraging us to move on and accept it.
Moving on is a key ingredient in Spider-Man: Far from Home. With Captain America: Civil War hinting at Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) loss of his uncle, it turns to Far from Home to deal with the loss of his new mentor – Tony Stark. Peter’s loss and his newfound star status as Spider-Man has become an incredible burden to bear. This mixed in with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) breathing down his neck as the star Avenger, a post-snap world and the will they won’t they relationship between himself and MJ (Zendaya) – life really has drained our favourite resilient teenager.
More than ever it seems that Peter Parker is due a rest, and he hopes he can get just that when his school leaves New York for quick-fire trip around Europe. Here, Peter hopes to connect with MJ, ask her out and hopefully leave behind any tasks of derring-do or sacrificing himself for the greater good. Nick Fury on the other hand, has plans for Spider-Man and wants him to head up a new team with Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Beck claims to have arrived from another earth, earth-833 to be exact, and who has arrived just in time to help the world battle an Avengers style threat known as the Elementals. With Beck on point, and Fury demanding Parker be available at all times, his ideal vacation is turned on its head within minutes of their arrival in Venice.
The most jarring take-away from Far from Home is its reluctance to deal head-on with the events of Avengers: Endgame. So many questions had been raised from that game-changing event that it was surely natural for audiences to think this may go some way to answering them. Questions like; will there be a new Iron-Man, what did Captain America do during his time away, does Paul Rudd actually ever age and will Sam and Bucky ever admit to their undying love for each other? Instead, Far from Home goes relatively low-key, and instead focuses on Peter Parker and how he fits into a world that no longer makes sense to anyone. It’s a smart move on many levels and provides enough of a respite for the audience to sit back and not panic over whether their favourite heroes will survive or not.
Whereas Marvel’s first attempt at everybody’s favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man felt very much like a modern-day John Hughes film with superheroes in it, Far from Home continues that vibe but wants to add some of the unpredictability of a road-trip film too. The way director Jon Watts handles this is to thrust Peter into multiple scenarios that show him completely out of his depth. And for the most part it works. Seeing this incredibly smart, but endearingly awkward teenager confronting everyday issues as well as world-threatening events is what has made Spider-Man so popular for all these years. It’s a careful balancing act, but one that mostly succeeds.
Marvel’s success in casting the right people hit its peak when Tom Holland arrived as Peter Parker. His uneasy charm and clumsy nature are a winning blend, and have merged exceptionally with the already established characters in the MCU. Adding to that is Jake Gyllenhaal who provides empathy, wit and menace to a role that required exactly that. The chemistry between the two leads drives the film and makes for an even more impactful ending.
Where the characters and direction succeed, the story unfortunately suffers. For all the good work done here, Far from Home feels loose and lacking in focus. It is only in the final third where it really finds its groove and gives the audience something to really sink their teeth into. It’s a fine effort and a perfectly acceptable superhero film, but Far from Home lacks the spark of Spider-Man: Homecoming and sits somewhere in mid-table obscurity of the overall Marvel universe.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is in cinemas now