There’s a certain sect of spidey fans who believe that the MCU version of the character is out of its element. While big space adventures are fun for a time, the friendly neighbourhood superhero works best in a neighbourhood, and this has made the premise of Spider-Man: Far From Home even more egregious to them.
If you somehow missed the premise, Parker and pals from Homecoming are going for a school holiday across Europe when Spider-Man is drafted by Nick Fury to assist in fighting some elemental bad guys with the help of Mysterio, a mysterious new superhero who seems to have popped up alongside the new threat.
Saying anything more would be a spoiler but another complex layer here is the events of Avengers: Endgame which, chronologically, Far From Home follows shortly after. These smaller movies which follow MCU tentpole events never have an easy time of things trying to have their own identity without tying up loose ends.
All of that seems to be a real spinning plate scenario which the filmmakers of Far From Home have to get right lest they have a real mess on their hands but, thankfully, the newest Spider-Man movie somehow manages to pull it all off spectacularly, with only a few hiccups.
While we can’t speak specifics we can say that the story here is really well done. If you’re coming in expecting some closure after Endgame, it does provide some of that. If you want a standalone Spider-Man story which is focused on the character of Peter Parker, you’re getting that too. And if you just want some colourful CGI smashing into itself, there’s ample space for it.
This movie manages to do all this by recontextualising the very familiar story of Spider-Man. The great power and great responsibility ethos is still the core of Spider-Man, but it’s played against the legacy of Iron Man, the newcomer Mysterio and smaller characters like Nick Fury and Peter Parker’s classmates.
While Into the Spider-Verse leaned on dimension hopping and multiple protagonists to play the drum of “am I good enough to be Spider-Man?”, Far From Home instead uses the MCU itself as that foil. You’ll see in the trailers on this page that the world is expecting a “new Iron Man” after the events of Endgame, and Spider-Man has to balance that against going on a simple trip with friends and telling a girl that he likes her.
This balance of huge, looking threats against small, more intimate characters is what has also been the rock of Spider-Man that has made it so universally appealing after all these decades, and Far From Home absolutely nails this theme within the expectations and grandness of the MCU.
If that all sounds a bit vague, that’s purposeful to avoid spoilers but just be assured that what makes Spider-Man, well, Spider-Man, is still the beating heart inside of this movie.
All of that complexity and overarching narrative is really brought home by the cast here.
If you’ve seen other Marvel movies with the main, returning cast here, you know what to expect. Tom Holland is still a remarkably good Peter Parker, Zendaya plays a weird MJ that’s slightly more developed this time around, and Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds still manages to walk the tightrope of comic relief that isn’t annoying.
Samuel L. Jackson is still a convincing Nick Fury, it’s good to see Happy Hogan played by Jon Favreau etc. We could list the cast all day but what’s important here is that these actors and actresses have these characters down to a science at this point. No one is going off the rails trying to win an Oscar, but are instead giving convincing performances for characters they, and the audience, already know.
The standout, as you may have guessed, is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. You’re probably going to hear from a lot of people that he’s the best part of this movie, and it’s difficult to argue with that. Gyllenhaal is a rock solid actor and he manages to pull of a role that may not have the best dialogue or the most coherent plan, but does have his charm and talent.
Mysterio has a surprisingly dedicated fan base and they’re probably going to love what was done with this character in Far From Home. If you’re not too familiar with him, or it’s been a while since you read an arc using this classic spidey villain, just know that he’s going to leave an impression on most people.
While the act does fall apart somewhat near the end, and he’s probably not going to be as memorable as Thanos or Loki (or even Killmonger), he is a lot of fun to watch.
With the story and the characters as solid as they, it’s a pity that the rest of the movie around them can fall short.
The CGI, for example, looks rather cartoonish at times. Some people may say this is because it delves into the realm of fantastical at certain points, but Doctor Strange did the same and still managed to look solid. In the heavy CGI segments it really veers closer to looking like an animation and not live action, but there’s no real way to pull off some of the impressive stuff they did in real life.
The music is an even worse affair. There’s been a long running problems with the scores of MCU movies, but Far From Home feels especially generic and forgettable in this department.
There’s also the problem that this movie can feel a bit drawn out at times. Yes, it is a grand tour through Europe with an MCU / Spider-Man twist, and that’s a big part of what makes it fun, but there’s a lot of tiny subplots that go nowhere on top of throwaway scenes that go on for too long. This movie really would have benefited from one more round of editing.
Despite those relatively small problems, there’s not much to dislike about Spider-Man: Far From Home. The action is choreographed well on top of being frenetic, the story is handled really well for everything it had to contend with, and the cast is rock solid.