Does the Spider go up the quality spout?
Marvel fans have already been treated to a cinematic classic in 2019 with the epic Endgame. Spiderman: Far From Home follows the consequences of that film in a practically Avenger-less Earth, as Tom Holland’s Spidey is desperate to both fulfill his heroic duties and keep a normal grasp on his life as Peter Parker. It’s like the international edition of Spiderman 2, and just like that film, Far From Home is one of the very best installments in the Spiderman saga.
Far From Home sees Peter Parker, MJ, Ned, Flash and more of Midtown High’s science students go on a European field trip to Venice, Prague, and London when Peter is recruited by Nick Fury to combat the Elementals: destructive beings from an alternate Earth dimension. Also from this ‘dimension’, we meet Mysterio, who Peter feels is a better heir to Iron Man than he is as Spiderman. Granting him the power of EDITH (Stark’s acronym of “Even dead, I’m the hero”), we learn that the Elementals and Mysterio’s heroics have merely been an illusion! A facade that reaffirms the Mysterio character stays true to the comic book source material. Spiderman must now reclaim the powers of EDITH from the fraudulent Mysterio, whilst finally confessing his love for MJ.
Containing the same levels of hilarity and teenage lifestyle that really made me love Homecoming, FFH excels in true character portrayal and development in its 2 hour run time. Zendaya’s MJ and particularly Jake Gyllenhal’s Quentin Beck/Mysterio stand out. Although anchored by Tom Holland, the supporting cast show versatility and each character comes across integral to the plot, allowing for an engaging ‘Ooh what are they going to do now’ atmosphere to be created.
As the film’s deuteragonist turned antagonist, Mysterio manages to successfully replicate the Iron Man 3 twist to a more satisfying result: Beck is joined by other disgruntled workers and associates of Stark Industries as they hope to achieve power and fame in a post-blip world. Gyllenhal spectularly transitions from a valiant do-gooder to a mad, incensed man who, despite lacking of actual superpowers, is a great psychological threat. This continues on from Michael Keaton’s Vulture from Homecoming, where Peter is at a strong psychological disadvantage to both villains (Adrian Toomes being Liz’s Father and Quentin Beck having been enabled by Peter himself).
A problem I had with the introduction of magic and the supernatural elements of the MCU was their presentation as wacky and unbelievable by everyone within the films. ‘Sure, literal God of Thunder and 30 year old man really from WW2 exist, but ancient Himalayan magic, that’s farfetched’. But Mysterio’s illusions and magic are understandable and well presented because they aren’t meant to be ‘real’. The gorgeous fight scenes between Spiderman and Mysterio is how magic should have been treat in the MCU: psychological torture of the weaker-minded instead of actual physical attacks.
One issue I have, albeit a minor one, is the nature of the plot. Once more we see a similar layout of Spiderman film, that we saw with both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield starring as everyone’s favourite insect-related superhero. There are staggering similarities between Homecoming and its newly-released sequel; Spidey finds himself hampered by his need to be heroic, whilst maintaining an inconspicious identity. If it was any other superhero, this would be considered tedious and repetitive. But the role of both Peter Parker has perhaps never been so perfectly done as well as Holland since debuting in 2016’s Civil War. Maguire was the perfect Peter Parker, Garfield the superior Spider man (not the Otto-Octavius one), yet the young Englishman blends both with expertise.
Any qualms had about the story not being progressed in FFH are immediately quashed in the mid-credits scene. With Mysterio seemingly dead and defeated in London, and Peter and MJ cementing their comic-book romance, it comes as a shock for Mysterio to have recorded his final moments to incriminate Spiderman as a potential threat to world safety because he has since regained controlled of EDITH. Oh, and he outed Spiderman as Peter Parker. Phase 1 of the MCU began with Tony Stark publicly revealing his identity as Iron Man, so it’s rather apt that his protege faces a similar situation to end Phase 3 of the MCU. J Jonah Jameson’s return (they even kept JK Simmons, which brought the biggest smile to my face) made this one of the most important credits scenes in franchise history.
Speaking of Iron Man 1, there’s some nice call backs to both previous films in the series as well as iconic Spiderman comic moments. From Happy playing ‘Back in Black’ by ACDC, Peter wielding an explosive and sign akin to Captain America wielding Mjolnir and the Shield, to vehicular registrations referencing Spiderman and MJ’s first kiss.
Overall, FFH ranks in the upper echeleon of Marvel films. Spiderman in these films can seemingly do no wrong. Phase 4 cannot come soon enough with the promise of the Scrull’s presence and the dangerous situations we’ll see our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman in. Sure, it’s technically the 3rd out of the last 4 Marvel movies to have a crushing ending (following Infinity War and Endgame, with the exception of Captain Marvel), but in this instance, it only adds to the intrigue of where the MCU goes now.