There’s no denying the charm and popularity of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man – his participation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been one of the highlights of the Disney franchise, even though Spider-Man is technically on loan to Disney by Sony, due to the complications of character movie rights signed over by Marvel Comics to Sony almost 30 years ago.
But one criticism of this particular incarnation, aside from the absence of Uncle Ben and the one true Mary Jane, is that we haven’t yet seen the real Peter Parker from the comics. We’re talking about the science nerd, the teen fraught with anguish over his duty as a superhero vs his desire to be a normal teen, and the down on his luck hero who has no one to depend on but himself.
Spider-Man: Far From Home serves to course correct some of those discrepancies, even as it pulls double duty in wrapping up the 11-year old, 21-movie Infinity Saga, which recently saw its conclusion in Avengers: Endgame. This epilogue works to answer some nagging questions, as it paints a new direction for the character.
Following the events of The Blip that saw half of Earth’s human population die/disappear, their return eights months after Bruce Banner/The Hulk’s action in Endgame brings about some drama to the students of Midtown School of Science and Technology.
In what could be a remarkable coincidence, the majority of Peter Parker’s class were snapped away in The Blip, aside from one Brad Davis, who went from a scrawny kid, to a handsome jock. For some reason, he still joins his classmates in a class trip to Europe, which Peter sees as an opportunity to unwind, and not be the friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler for a while.
In steps Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders), who wants to recruit Spidey to team-up with the new hero of the hour, Mysterio aka Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), to take on the dimensional-crossing Elementals, who have destroyed Beck’s Earth.
In a series of subterfuge, double crosses and outright lies that sees Peter try to skirt his heroic turn, protect his secret identity and save his class from the destructive Elementals, the film injects Peter’s life with some much-needed humour and sensibilities.
The loss of Tony Stark has had a strong impact on young Peter, even as it strengthens his relationship with Tony’s bodyguard and best friend, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). With Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) aware that her nephew is the amazing Spider-Man, it puts a new element in their relationship dynamics that deviates from the comics.
But it’s his relationship with Beck and Fury that takes centrestage. Maybe it’s due to the loss of Tony Stark, but Peter seems adamant in pursuing a normal life, which includes the romantic pursuit of Michelle “MJ” (Zendaya), even if it means turning over his heroic responsibilities to Beck, Fury and the rest of the Avengers, most who are coincidentally missing in this outing.
As a connected MCU film, Far From Home establishes the post-Endgame Earth, and it answers some of the nagging questions, such as how the post-Blip survivors navigate the new world. Eight months later, some of the Avengers have moved on, though an exciting post-credit sequence establishes that the upcoming Phase 4 of the MCU has plenty in store for the franchise.
As a standalone Spider-Man movie, Far From Home builds upon the intellect of Peter Parker. His knowledge of the multiverse sets up Peter the science guy, while the building of the new Spider-Man red and black costume sets up Peter the tech guy. This is not the needy Spidey who has to win over Happy and Tony in Homecoming, but a Peter who knows his role, and comes to terms with the responsibilities of having his powers.
Yes, a bulk of the movie still depends on Stark Technologies, which is a smart move, since this film benefits from the world building of the MCU. Maybe this Peter didn’t create his own web-fluid or sew his own Spider-suit as per the comics, but if you think about it, which high school kid is that smart? But this Peter builds upon the Stark tech gifted to him, even if comes with its own problems, such as having web-shooters that no longer work.
While not without its flaws, especially with Beck and the use of Stark Tech, and the poor choice of Peter choosing love over his responsibilities as a hero, the film’s strength is also in showing his growing relationship with MJ and his friends.
In both cases, Far From Home serves as a worthy sequel for Spider-Man, as it recognises its link to the MCU, but attempts to distance itself from it and stand on its own two feet. And nothing can represent it more, than with the first post-credit scene that brings about an incredible cameo to one of the greatest characters in Spidey’s world.
The scene also sets up a new bleak future for Peter in the next sequel that runs parallel to Iron Man (2008), while the second one bookends it with possibilities for a greater future. An epilogue indeed.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
With Far From Home, Tom Holland has established himself, and his movies, as the superior Spider-Man.
Story - 8/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10