Spider-Man: Far From Home is a fun new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite a few minor issues, the film is a hilarious, action-filled adventure and a strong sequel to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In Far From Home, Peter Parker/Spider-Man goes on a vacation to Europe with his classmates. Their vacation is interrupted by monsters who take the form of elements, thus called the Elementals. Nick Fury, also in Europe, enlists the help of Peter to defeat them.
But Fury’s major weapon against the Elementals is Quentin Beck, who claims he has come to Earth 616 (the world of MCU) from another parallel dimension, which was ravaged by the Elementals.
Here, I list the things I liked about Spider-Man: Far From Home and things I did not.
Let’s start with the positives.
Tony Stark’s lingering presence
Right from the intro, the shadow of Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr’s now-deceased superhero and the man who made the Avengers possible, hangs over the film. Peter struggles with the responsibility of living up to Tony’s expectations and wonders whether he wants to be the next Iron Man or not. It is a nice touch, and Tony is playing the role of mentor to Peter from beyond the grave. Tony’s death should be an important event and it feels so in Spider-Man: Far From Home. It is similar to the way Peter Parker deals with the death of uncle Ben (Tobey Maguire’s Peter, for instance). At the same time, the film does not overdo it. We do not get a clear answer to as to whether Peter ends up seeing himself as Tony’s heir apparent.
I do not mean the usual CGI, which, it must be said, was great too but that has become a norm with MCU films. The way director Jon Watts and VFX artists handled Mysterio’s illusions was mighty impressive, especially since presenting them believably on the screen was always going to be a challenge. The scenes in which Beck disorients Peter are quite stunning. The comics are quite vague as to how Quentin Beck does that. In the film, it was high-tech gadgets that enabled Mysterio to fake attacks by the Elemental monsters and him saving the world.
While I expected Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio to end up as the main bad guy, I also thought he really did come from another dimension. But no, he was a fraud through-and through. He had been an employee at Stark Industries and developed Binarily Augmented Retro-Framing (with an unpleasantly acronym called B.A.R.F.), a holographic system that appeared in Captain America: Civil War. It was this technology he used to build up his persona of a superhero.
Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been more confident about tackling real-world politics lately. Themes like fake news, manipulations of reality and making a distinction between truth and fabrication in the post-truth world are not subtle in the film and the makers did not try to be subtle about them. It is not just Mysterio (who creates an elaborate backstory and even more elaborate illusions to fool people including Spider-Man). The mid-credit scene reveals JK Simmons’ J Jonah Jameson (making a triumphant comeback from Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man films), who seems to be playing a right-winger who puts up shocking (real or fake) videos on his website (Dailybugle.net instead of The Daily Bugle) to gain views.
JK Simmons as J Jonah Jameson and the Skrulls
As I mentioned in the previous point. Simmons made a hugely surprising and delightful comeback as J Jonah Jameson, the irritable editor of a newspaper who wants all the dirt his underlings can get on Spider-Man. Of course, this being the digital age, he is now the editor or owner of a website which is like an online tabloid.
We learned in the post-credit scene that Nick Fury and Maria Hill in the movie were actually Talos and his wife Soren (the skrulls we met in Captain Marvel) in disguise. First of all, it is great that Ben Mendelsohn’s character is going to be in more MCU films than just Captain Marvel. Second, Nick Fury, the real one, is commandeering a Skrull spaceship on a secret mission. There was a casual mention of Skrull sleeper cells which might or might not mean malignant Skrulls with designs to conquer the earth (read: Secret Invasion).
Now about the things I did not like about Spider-Man: Far From Home:
Peter Parker and his superhero troubles
It is understandable that a teenager saddled with superpowers will be reluctant about using them. But we thought MCU’s Peter already had that development (and then some). He dealt with the question in Homecoming, went to space in Infinity War, fought the most powerful man in the universe, fought him and his minions again in Endgame. We’d think that would be enough for a teenager to evolve. While there was no mention of the iconic “With great power, must also come — great responsibility” and its variants, the essence of that line mattered in the film. It should not have, after all Peter has seen, and it was annoying.
The trouble with a cinematic universe is that it becomes harder and harder to explain why this and that superhero cannot be in a standalone movie. There are probably 2 dozen superheroes in the MCU now. When Peter asked “Fury”, he was like Thor was offworld, Captain Marvel was unavailable and so on. What about Shuri? She has all the Wakandan tech at her disposal and probably would have seen through Mysterio’s illusions. Some suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy a standalone MCU movie now.
Slight pacing issue
Some of the scenes in Spider-Man: Far From Home felt like they went on for longer than they should have. I cannot talk specifically since that would spoil some of the plot points, but it felt like some comparatively unimportant scenes were given more time than they deserved.