The twenty-third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes place 8 months after the events of Avengers Endgame. Numerous faces from previous films return including Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, with actors from Spider-Man: Homecoming also returning to reprise their roles in this new instalment of the MCU with Jake Gyllenhaal joining the cast as Quentin Beck aka Mysterio. I think this is the final film in Phase 3 and as of time of writing I am not sure what will be kicking off Phase 4.
It was always going to be difficult to follow the spectacular Avengers: Endgame, but if there was anyone that could do it, it would be the crown jewel in any superhero gallery, namely Spider-Man. However, the web-head naturally had an uphill struggle before him. How do you follow something as epic as the finale of Endgame in which over a dozen superheroes joined forces to fight the army of Thanos and save the universe??
Like I said if anyone could do it, it was going to be Spider-Man.
The opening of the film takes place in Mexico with Nick Fury and Maria Hill investigating the destruction of a town, and survivors’ stories that claim as storm with a face has already destroyed another city. When the two former SHIELD agents arrive a large creature made of Earth appears, and a super-powered man appears to fight the monster before it can cause more destruction.
Meanwhile a school news video catches us up to what is happening, it is eight months since Tony Stark destroyed Thanos, and the world is still mourning him, as well as the others who fell to the intergalactic tyrant, including Black Widow and Vision. The “Blip” as it is now called meant that those who disappeared mid-way through their academic year had to restart the year again, whilst those that remained finished and have gone through other years. As a result some people have ended up with younger siblings that are either the same age or older than those that blipped.
Spider-Man is attending a charity event and is informed by Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) that Nick Fury will be contacting him soon. Peter Parker is feeling the pressure since Tony Stark died, as he is seemingly expected to fill the void that Iron Man has left in his wake. Parker is just a kid and he is overwhelmed at the prospect of having to be the one to shoulder the burden of the world’s fate. His classmates are planning a trip to Europe and Parker is looking forward to leaving Spider-Man behind, and after Venice when they go to Paris telling Michelle or “MJ” (Zendaya reprising the role) about his growing feelings for her.
After ignoring numerous phone calls from Fury, Parker and his classmates are in Venice when a huge water monster attacks, and Parker assists the super-hero from Mexico, as he is able to beat the monster back. Fury approaches Parker in person, and forcibly brings him to meet with the superhero, a man named Quentin Beck, the one who has been fighting off the Elementals, beings of immense power that destroyed Beck’s own world made up of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire. Beck has travelled through the Multiverse to prevent Parker’s world from also being destroyed. Beck tells Parker that he could really use his help, but Parker refuses to get involved, believing that Beck or “Mysterio” as his classmates have dubbed him, can handle things on his own.
Fury hijacks Peter’s class trip and reroutes them to Prague instead of Paris where the final and most powerful of the Elementals, Fire, is due to appear. Fury also gives Parker a pair of glasses that Tony Stark left to him, and contain links to Stark Industries entire database as well as control of a massive orbital weapons system. The glasses are controlled by EDITH (Even in Death I’m The Hero) an artificial intelligence programme.
Feeling the strain of trying to live up to Tony Stark’s legacy Parker puts his faith in new hero, Mysterio, and hopes that he is the one to step up and be the new Iron Man. However, Quentin Beck may not be what he appears...
Right, hands up who has never watched Spider-Man: The Animated Series?? Or Spectacular Spider-Man?? Or read any of the comics?? If you have raised your hands then I am genuinely concerned about your mental state, but the reason I asked because if you are familiar with any of those media then you are immediately going to know the big reveal the film manages to hold back for a decent amount of time.
I’ll discuss that point in a minute, but first let me say that this film does manage to both follow on from the excellent Endgame whilst also developing Peter Parker’s character. He is the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, he helped to save the world from Thanos, but fundamentally he is a sixteen year old kid that is unsure of his place in the world and not just in terms of his superhero-ing. He has feelings for MJ and doesn’t know if she likes him back, and he is trying to fill the enormous shoes left behind after Iron Man’s death. Everywhere he goes he sees Tony Stark’s face, and everyone wants to know if he is now going to be commanding the Avengers. Tom Holland does an excellent job as the poor kid overwhelmed at the prospects of having the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he doesn’t believe himself to be the hero that Tony Stark thinks he is. He is still mourning the loss of his mentor, and maybe it is a stretch to say father-figure but for the first time in his life, he is alone with no one to really turn to. I did enjoy the moment when he asks why he has to stop the Elementals asking if Thor could handle it, or if Captain Marvel could sort things out, or even where the other Avengers are. I think these are perfectly justifiable questions and Fury’s answers could link in to other films that are coming in the future.
I did like the fact that Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) knows his identity so there are plenty of good moments with the two of them. Her even packing his suit after he “forgets” it also made me smile. The fact that she may or may not be sleeping with Happy Hogan is also something that causes a lot of humour throughout the proceedings. Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon also returning from Homecoming and Infinity War where he cameoed) still provides much of the comic relief trying to not only help to keep Peter’s identity as Spider-Man a secret but creating a new identity for someone with similar powers that happens to be in Europe at the same time they are.
The tone of the film manages to walk the line between being somewhat serious following the wake of Endgame but also knows when to be light hearted. It can be a difficult thing to pull off because most films can be one or the other, but it takes skilled direction and acting to successfully do both.
Holland’s chemistry with Gyyllenhaal also comes through well on screen because Beck almost takes on the role of a supportive big brother. The sequences when Parker and Beck are just talking to one another are some of the best character moments I think in the entire MCU, and you do start to believe that Beck might be the one to fill the void left behind after Stark allowing Parker to go back to just being the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man once again.
As I mentioned above if you are familiar with most Spider-Man media then you will know that Quentin Beck was in one form or another, a former special effects designer, and or a con man that used technology to create monsters or illusions. The film holds this reveal back for just long enough for people like me who know him from other media to start to think that maybe he is a multi-dimensional being. After Thanos, the people of the world seem more open to believe almost anything. Once it is revealed I did like the idea that Beck is planning on giving them the hero that they are demanding by creating threats that Mysterio is able to defeat.
Sadly like the cartoons Spider-Man ultimately beats him the same way.
There are several really well done, and suitably trippy sequences in which Beck projects various nightmare images to Parker to break his will, and scare him. One involving Iron Man is particularly good. Unable to tell which is real and which is fiction, Parker is beaten and badly wounded. He realises the mistakes that he has made and that maybe Stark believed in him more than Peter himself does.
Aunt May is aware of Peter’s Spider-Sense, unfortunately, she has dubbed it his Peter-tingle, which gets a smile whenever someone says it. In the cartoons as Spider-Man cannot trust his eyes, he blindfolds himself and relies completely on his Spider-Sense (or Peter-tingle in this case) to distinguish the illusions from the real danger. The sequence was choreographed incredibly well and even though I was waiting for him to realise that the Spider-Sense was the way to beat Beck, it didn’t disappoint when it finally came.
Truthfully I can’t really think of many criticisms with the exception of the reveal of Mysterio being the villain being telegraphed from any foreknowledge of the comics or cartoons, but that is the problem with using any established villain. You get their history if you are familiar with them already, but that is an unavoidable issue when you’re using a character already established.
All in all I think that Spider-Man: Far From Home is a solid step following Endgame and there are two post-credits scenes, one that may set-up where another Spider-Man film might go, whilst the other possibly Captain Marvel’s next adventure or even what the new Avengers might get up to.
I’m looking forward to seeing where the MCU goes because this film does prove that there is life after the Infinity Stone and Thanos. My Thumb is naturally Up, and I wonder where Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will go from here.
One final thing, there is no Stan Lee Cameo in this film, despite the fact that apparently he filmed a bunch of them before his death. I’d heard that fans were angry by this. But personally I think that his Cameo in Endgame serves as his legacy. That film was the last phase in the Infinity Saga and is a fitting tribute to the man that created Marvel comics and popped up in every Marvel film to date (except Ghost Rider as he didn’t create that character).
8/10 – A strong edition to the MCU and potentially sets up numerous stories for Phase 4, I look forward to seeing Holland’s Spider-Man continue to grow and evolve in the future whilst seeing what Phase 4 has in store for us.