Imagine if you are Sony and Marvel: You just released two really well received Spider-Man movies in a row, with the live action Spider-Man: Homecoming and the amazing animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But the plot of your next live action movie hinges on a movie that came out before it and that you can’t really use much in marketing, even though technically, your lead character is a bunch of sad ashes floating around some moon deep in the galaxy.
I mean, from the word “Go!” you got a lot to do and manage to make this next film soar. And with the admission that there are spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame, here are some of the things that the story did remarkably well in the just released Spider-Man: Far from Home.
First off, let’s talk about how the whole film is an homage to the classic theme of Spider-Man: “With great power must also come great responsibility.” This Peter Parker is the only one where we didn’t get a full origin story. Thankfully the producers of this set of films said “If you don’t know it by now…” and moved forward.
The gist of this film is that Peter is wanting to take a break and just be a regular guy on a trip with his school buddies as they explore Europe. And throughout the movie you get nudges from Aunt May playfully packing his costume for him, to Happy Hogan delivering him a gift from Tony, to the appearance of very cranky Nick Fury who all basically are saying, “We need you in the game. All the time.”
It felt true to the sense of Spidey, without there being a flashback to the scene where Peter is yelling into a rainy sky holding his uncle’s dead body in his arms. It felt like a nice way to trust the audience while still being a wonderful homage to decades of stories!
Second, the casting of this movie is stellar. Zendaya is a revelation as Mary Jane, Peter’s love interest. The addition of the other pieces from the MCU works well. It is nice to see Nick Fury and Colbie Smulders, who has to love getting those checks for showing up and being Maria Hill every once in awhile. (And she is always great at it!)
It just feels like a nice group of high school kids together in Europe with the accompanying things that happen. (The sub-plot of the couple that suddenly gets romantic just for that one trip made me want to call my high school friend Charlie and remind him of how he pledged his undying love to a girl from the next county over at Windy Gap and how quickly she dumped him when we came home and she discovered what losers we were.)
I like high school Peter Parker and the high school issues that he has to face. Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man in live action and it isn’t because the others were awful. He just embodies the earnestness of Peter so well and it makes the whole thing work. And Jake Gyllenhall has to do two things over the course of the movie: 1) be likable and 2) be Mysterio, and he does both of them well.
Third, this movie helps clear up some of the Endgame issues that are hanging out there. It doesn’t do a deep dive but it addresses what do you do when people who were dead for 5 years come back and haven’t aged. (Conveniently, that is most of Peter and his high school friends from the first movie.) To think about how people’s age versus real world age and the bureaucracy that would create in a real world is fascinating.
Plus, we get a nice comedic subplot about how someone “dusts” themselves out of all their relationships to run away with their hook-up. Humanity is awful and of course at least one person would do that. It was just a nice, subtle way to push some of those things forward and help the MCU continue to re-set the universe for its next stage.
That said, there are some closing post-credit scenes that have major, major implications, the first one for Peter Parker and the second for the whole dang Marvel Universe!
Again, Sony was incredibly smart to turn away from its own desperate attempts to hold on to the Spider-Man rights as a cash grab and decide instead to connect back into the Marvel Universe. I cannot imagine a Sony solo produced Sinister Six movie would have done anything near the box office that these last two live action Spider-Man movies have done, much less be better stories.
Instead, Sony made that partnership and leased back the character it had leased from Marvel in the first place, tying it to a Marvel train that just continues to tell great stories and make money. I am terrified that some jerk producer at Sony is going to think they don’t need Marvel now and try and do their own Venom / Spider-Man crossover and wonder why it tanked and, most importantly waste some of the teenage years that the cast has left when they should be telling the next wave of stories. Please, Marvel and Sony: continue to play nice and benefit one another!
If you haven’t yet seen Spider-Man: Far From Home, you should definitely check it out, for all the things above plus it serves as a nice thought piece about reality and special effects and what really matters in the very special effects heavy piece of a superhero movie!