In fifteen years we have seen a lot of Spider-Mans. Sony has done origin stories with two different actors and the first started well and ended off worse and the second didn’t gain traction. Good but quite enough for the marquee hero of the Marvel universe. More concerning for Sony/Columbia Pictures was that their asset was on the outside looking in at Marvel Entertainment/Disney’s 22 film enterprise with dozens of superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This is no longer the case as Marvel Entertainment bridged the gap between Spider-Man’s two studios, Sony and Disney, and made it possible for Spider-Man to be with his Avenger superhero friends. As of the time of this review, Far From Home has scored one of the most successful 4th of July openings in history. Already it is being talked about as possibly saving the summer box office as the latest X-Men and Men in Black franchises fizzled.
The young actor chosen to play Spider-Man Tom Holland was put under the wing of Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr. both figuratively and literally. The two had real chemistry together in the first Spider-Man movie Homecoming as well as the Avengers movie. For those not wanting to be spoiled read no further. The new movie Far From Home is how young Peter Parker/Spider-Man is coping with the loss of his mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man. He is mourning and wants to take a break from the monstrous responsibility of being an Avenger.
The timeline of Spider-Man makes it a direct follow-up of Avengers: Endgame. Not only does Peter Parker have to still cope with high school, he has to cope that like half his class, he didn’t age during “the snap.” This means he goes back to school where he left off five years later with kids who would have been in junior high when half the universe disappeared. A funny scene in the movie demonstrates how students from the marching band appear in the gym when the snap is undone. Everyone is bumping into one another as it is so unexpected and sudden.
Suffice to say everyone is still adjusting to the new world including Peter Parker. All he would like to do is going on a field trip and tell the girl he likes how he feels and perhaps kiss her for the first time. If only Nick Fury as played by Samuel Jackson would let him. He and former SHIELD member Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders) need Spider-Man as the ranks of the Avengers are depleted due to deaths and other assignments. Peter dodges the calls even as Happy (Jon Favreau) warns him Fury won’t be put off. Happy, Iron Man’s best friend and still working for Pepper Potts at Stark Industries looks out for Peter and gives him a gift of Tony’s glasses as per the inventor’s last request. To confuse things more it appears that Happy and his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) might be dating.
Peter continues to ghost Nick Fury even as the world seems to be fighting off a new threat known as the Elementals. Since it seems far away, Peter concentrate on his European trip and his plan to get next to his crush MJ played by Zendaya who capture the awkward, geeky but beautiful girl perfectly. At every turn his plans seem to be thwarted and his best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon) who said they should be bachelor’s in Europe suddenly has a girlfriend even before their flight arrives.
The gift that Peter gets from Tony is the man’s glasses which we learn is tied to an Artificial Intelligence called E.D.I.T.H. that controls the database and battle drones of Stark Industries. In his haste to remove a potential rival for MJ’s attention, he almost has a drone strike do the job for him. It once again affirms to him that he is over his head.
The humour and action are never far away and even as Nick Fury highjacks his school trip and even gets him a superhero disguise which gets dubbed the Night Monkey. He fight the Elemental threat with the aid of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character of Beck/Mysterio. It is then in desperation to shake the unworthiness, he gives Beck Tony’s glasses and the key to the database.
It is only after in the presence of MJ where she reveals to him that she knows he is Spider-Man that he sees evidence that Mysterio is a fraud and how dangerous he is. This inevitably sets up a high profile clash, various turns and surprises and incredible CGI action.
For an audience, it never completely overwhelms because Tom Holland makes you believe everything you see and hear with an authenticity and humour throughout. It feels like this movie is both the close of story behind and a representation of the story ahead. In other words, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in good hands.
Double secret spoiler ahead!
The mid credit scenes have so many twists and funny parts and action that it is a shocker when Spider-Man is outed as Peter Parker.
And in the very end credit, we see Nick Fury in a funny scene in space. Only seeing it will somehow explain it.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations