At long last, Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now complete, and what a doozie that was! After “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” blew our tiny little minds, “Spider-Man: Far from Home” is here to essentially serve as an epilogue to the most ambitious chapter this franchise has produced so far. Consider it to be the punctuation mark at the end of a sentence. Early-viewing feedback of “Far from Home” would have you believe that somehow this film has exceeded the quality of “Endgame” and I want to extinguish that flame immediately. “Far from Home” is a quality film within the mythos, but “Endgame” was a force of nature. Let us not waste time and energy facing those two against each other. What is important is that this film is very entertaining, with great characters and a unique, charismatic villain.
To start, I should admit that I have a major gripe with this film’s marketing. They began advertising its release with actual footage from the movie months before “Avengers: Endgame” was released in theaters, which is a problem when two of the most prominent characters shown in the trailers were currently snapped out of existence. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to realize that Peter Parker and Nick Furry were going to return after “Endgame” somehow but I really wish that Marvel and Disney would have at least played along with its own charade and humored us with the possibility that Thanos’s snap might have been permanent. Apologists will say that it was common knowledge that those characters were going to survive but I simply wish that there was no physical evidence of that before we saw exactly how it happened in a separate film. Obvious or not, it does detract from the viewing experience in some capacity. But alas, what is done is done.
On a more positive note, Tom Holland, once again proves that he was perhaps born to play Peter Parker by delivering a performance that is so close to the source material, you would be excused if you believed he is just a living incarnation of a comic book. His mannerisms and chemistry with every character, especially with Zendaya’s MJ, are exactly what you would hope for from a socially awkward nerd who is coping with the balance between doing the right thing and trying to live a life of his own. His arc is about growth and maturity. He is trying to live up to the expectations of his late mentor, Tony Stark, while understanding that doesn’t mean he isn’t allowed to fail, just as long as he learns from his mistakes to better himself. I would have preferred the writing to have a greater focus on the responsibility aspect of his character, however. It seemed throughout the film, characters wanted to tell Peter than he needs to be 100% committed to his role as a hero even at the expense of his own social life, but no one really musters up the words, and so you feel like it was a lesson he ignored in favor of simple growth. Perhaps this will be addressed in future installments.
An issue for debate that I noticed is fairly common amongst fans is that Peter’s growth in the MCU is different than that of the comic books and the other movie iterations we have seen in the 21st century. This Peter has a similar personality but he has close friends who he allows in on his secret, whereas Sam Raimi’s version was forced to isolate himself and sacrifice his personal life in order to fully commit to being the hero he knew he needed to be. Some may argue that the MCU is not true to the character of Spider-Man because he is so well supported by others, but to that I just note how this is a different version of the character. Just because all the versions are portraying the same character does not mean the character has to be the same for all versions. This Peter makes sense within the context of his environment and I hope people who have an issue with it can grow to accept these differences, rather than pout. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why everyone would want to see the exact same thing we have already seen multiple times in favor of a different take.
As for Jake Gyllenhaal, he has always been unfairly criticized by me throughout his career. I have no idea why he always faces my scorn, especially since most of his films are actually pretty good, but he has found himself on the wrong end of my sword for years now. After seeing him play Mysterio, I think I have finally let down my walls and allowed myself to love him. He was incredibly charismatic, portraying a very unique character, that despite a so-obvious-it-hurts turn to the dark side and cliché motivations for doing so, he might be the reason this film will stand out amongst the metric tons of Spider-Man movies we have the past few decades. The visuals in this film are also noteworthy. Because Mysterio is so prominent in the story, the use of special effects and trippy mind games are essential to making the character work. There are multiple sequences where the special effects are so effective that you feel lost in the chaos of it all with Peter. Come award season, I would not be surprised if this film takes home a gold statue for its work in this area.
I personally believe that the most impactful aspect of this film would be the two credit scenes, which establish Spider-Man’s trajectory into the upcoming Phase 4, as well as a total change in the status quo for other main characters. The film itself is a good story, but it is these two extra scenes that hit the hardest. No spoilers, but I promise your mouths will be left agape as you try to process what just happened so quickly and how you will have to wait about a year for the MCU to make another film to receive any answers.
Compared to the early feedback you might have heard on Twitter, anything less than a 10 out of 10 might feel like a disappointment, but it is not the film’s fault that it was overhyped. It is actually a very fun film that serves its purpose in the grand scheme very well. The action is thrilling, the comedy is plentiful, and the story portrays a different sort of threat that we have not yet seen in a franchise that now exceeds 20 films before it. I personally still believe “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and “Spider-Man 2” (2004) are better films than this, but “Far from Home” is just below their tier of Spider-Man films, and there is no shame in that.
I would give “Spider-Man: Far from Home” a reasonable 8.2 out of 10.
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Jon Favreau
Runtime: 2 Hours and 9 Minutes