After the epic, traumatising and momentous cinematic event that was Avengers: Endgame, you’d forgive the Marvel Cinematic Universe for taking stock and resting on its laurels. Not so with Spider-Man: Far From Home, Sony and Marvel Studios’ follow-up to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, at first glance no more then an entertaining standalone feature. Ultimately though, Far From Home develops into a pivotal kick-starter for the future of the MCU.
After returning to life alongside his schoolmates and following the death of several Avengers (notably his mentor Tony Stark) in Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is desperate to go on his European school trip and get away from his superhero life. Unfortunately, he finds himself recruited by both Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and a being from another dimension, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), to stop a major inter-dimensional threat that could destroy the planet.
Like Homecoming, Far From Home is more concerned with exploring Peter as a part of the wider Marvel universe then as just a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. This is hardly a criticism though, especially when the story is so darn entertaining. Everything is bigger in scope then your average Spider-Man story, the globetrotting locales and espionage aspects lending a unique quasi-Bond/superhero-esque style to proceedings. The European locations offer some neat variation of the Spider-Man formula, as well as presenting fresh problems for Peter to work through (which is ultimately what the best Spidey stories do), whilst the inclusion of MCU regulars Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) is far from just glorified cameos, their presence helping to progress the story and set up a neat new dynamic in this post-Tony Stark era of Spidey stories.
Speaking of the late, great armoured Avenger himself, Far From Home does a neat job of exploring the aftermath of Endgame‘s tragic events…eventually. Initially, the film starts off tonally uneven, attempting to marry the offbeat high-school humour of Homecoming with deep and meaningful reflections on grief and inadequacy. The story and character arcs lack direction and feel disjointed in the opening half, all playing out entirely separately to each other. Thankfully everything coalesces in the second half, which manages to steady the ship and makes for an entertaining, enjoyable watch that also delves deeper into a mentor-less, directionless Peter.
It goes without saying that Tom Holland (easily the best onscreen Spider-Man of all time by this point) sells it all from the off and is a delight throughout, whether in the suit or out of it. His charming take on the character is top notch, whilst the heavier moments within are beautifully lifted by his honest, well-pitched performance. The film repeatedly finds new ways to test the novice hero, and it’s largely down to Holland that the whole shebang convinces.
His chemistry with co-star Zendaya is a highlight too, especially considering the relationship gets way more time devoted to it here then in the previous film. Both actors are dynamite together, their scenes subtlety sweet and awkwardly funny. However, it is with Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio where the film truly comes alive – a wonderfully charismatic character that provides a fresh sounding board for Peter and his woes. His ulterior motivations are nothing new, but Gyllenhaal sells it all with ease.
The action is fantastic throughout too, a step up from Homecoming. Director Jon Watts has a firmer grasp of the action this time around and delivers some barnstorming, fluid sequences that really showcase the web-swinger at his best. The trippy Mysterio sequences are especially grand and inventive, executed in such a way as to simultaneously induce a sense of vertigo and claustrophobia, whilst the epic climax in London is enormously kinetic and breathtaking.
The real meat of the film for fans though is ultimately seeing what’s next for the MCU post-Endgame. Initially, Far From Home is nothing more then a fun romp, an epilogue of sorts after the cataclysmic Avengers two-parter. But beneath the surface, there’s plenty of subtle hints as to what’s to come next, resulting in some great cameos (possibly one of the best the MCU has ever delivered!) and a brilliant mid-credits scene which sets up a game-changing narrative for the MCU moving forward. The more casual MCU fans among you should not miss this one!
All told, Spider-Man: Far From Home works on two fronts – it’s an entertaining spectacle in it’s own right, but equally it provides deep and meaningful closure to the events of previous Marvel epics. In a summer littered with major franchise fatigue and box office misfires, it’s heartening to know that Marvel Studios haven’t lost any of their mojo post-Endgame.
The future looks very bright indeed.