Spider-Man Far From Home movie review: A passable postscript to Avengers Endgame, but a marvellous ode to Iron Man
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Director - Jon Watts
Cast - Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L Jackson, Zendaya, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon
Rating - 3/5
You’d imagine that the reputation of the two Ant-Man movies as the most inconsequential entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would remain unchallenged, but Spider-Man: Far From Home would like you to hold its beer.
Spidey’s second solo adventure in the MCU is a passable postscript to the 23-movie long Infinity Saga and the filmmaking is above reproach, as usual, but positioning it as a direct follow-up to Avengers: Endgame certainly magnifies its faults.
For instance, the stakes simply aren’t as high as you’d expect - the film exists solely to teach Peter Parker lessons he should have already learned, considering what he’s been through. These characters have just survived the ultimate threat; half the world’s population was literally resurrected without warning or explanation mere months ago, and Peter was instrumental in defeating Thanos. Everyone should be losing their minds, or at the very least, questioning the fabric of reality. But instead, they’re planning a summer vacation.
Watch the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer here
Spider-Man: Far From Home is basically EuroTrip, but with occasional diversions into superhero movie territory. In fact, it leans more heavily on innocent themes such as first love and friendship than even its predecessor, the refreshingly light Spider-Man: Homecoming. But Peter lost his innocence years ago; being thrust into intergalactic adventures with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes meant that he had to sacrifice a normal childhood, much like Harry Potter - and it is that very experience that he is trying to reclaim in this film.
But Peter cannot shake off the presence of the man who pulled him away from a regular life. Without ever appearing in the flesh, Tony Stark is essentially a strong supporting character in Spider-Man: Far From Home. He has taken on the role of Uncle Ben in the MCU’s retelling of the Spider-Man story; a spectre of morality whose wisdom lingers even after they have passed.
“I don’t think Tony would’ve done what he did, if he didn’t know that you were going to be here after he was gone,” a grieving Happy Hogan tells Peter in the most enjoyable scene of the film. Experienced without context, the scene perfectly captures the surprisingly emotional journey the MCU has taken us on in the last decade. It’s a bittersweet handshake between the series’ past and future; a passing of the baton, if you will.
Like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 2, Tom Holland’s second film as the iconic superhero finds Peter struggling to maintain a work-life balance. While his knee-jerk reaction to the demands of superhero life in this film isn’t as emo as the last time (when Maguire trashed his Spider-Man suit in a rainy alleyway) there is a similar scene in Far From Home in which a reluctant Peter rebels by refusing to pack his suit for the school trip.
He goes through a few different versions of the Spidey suit in this film, and each of them has been spoiled by the trailer, which is unusual for the otherwise very paranoid Marvel. But then again, there are bigger secrets to protect in Far From Home than Peter’s evolving fashion.
The true motivations of Quentin Beck, for instance, are a topic of heated debate on the internet, with hardcore Marvel fans insisting that there is more to him than meets the eye. And I can attest that Beck, as played by the phenomenal Jake Gyllenhaal, is easily the highlight of the film.
Interestingly, Gyllenhaal was in the running to replace Maguire on Spider-Man 2 back in the day, after Maguire suffered a serious back injury while filming Seabiscuit. But in a happy twist of fate that worked out in both actors’ favour, Maguire recovered, allowing Gyllenhaal to move on and develop a truly enviable body of work.
Far From Home is just about silly enough to give him an excuse to go off on one of his unhinged Nicolas Cage-inspired tangents, but for the first hour, Gyllenhaal plays Beck with an earnestness that he would have possibly brought to Peter in 2004.
There can, however, be no doubt that Tom Holland is an exceptionally bright actor, capable of immense vulnerability and spark, and more than qualified to carry such a huge film on his shoulders. There are scenes in which he is required to quip, to cry, and to romance - all in the span of a few minutes - and he is talented enough to pull it off. They’re implying in Far From Home that Holland’s Peter will have a bigger role to play in the franchise’s future, and it makes all the sense.
The film needed to be better, though. Especially with the recent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse rewriting the rulebook of not just Spider-Man movies, but superhero movies in general. Far From Home’s connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for lack of a better analogy, is like being related to someone famous. Attention and opportunity will be relatively easy to come by, but so will unfavourable comparisons.