“Spider-Man: Far From Home,” to some, will feel like a light-hearted epilogue to “Avengers: Endgame” – it is the last movie of phase 3 after all. But for many, the fact that the film cracks a joke about the 5-year time gap established in “Endgame,” while doing very little to explore the lasting effect it would have had on the world, this film may feel like a misstep.
However, I’d counter that opinion by pointing out that such a light-hearted and fun, summer popcorn movie, feels like an appropriate step toward calibrating the franchise for the next phase – especially after two darker films that came at such epic scale.
A concern with all of these cinematic franchises is the issue of burnout, where the ever-increasing scale of the films (and the monstrous threats they’re facing) rise to unsustainable proportions. Undoubtedly these films could have stopped at “Endgame,” but clearly Marvel Studios (and Disney) have far more planned. Admittedly my fascination with this film franchise has shifted from the characters and the overarching story being told, to wondering how much longer they can keep it going. I’m not convinced that “Far From Home” will sell everyone on the franchise’s ability to continue, but it does enough right to be worthwhile summer fun.
A large part of that is Tom Holland, who has a likability factor I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps it’s that he’s effortlessly charming while still selling a teenager lacking the confidence to go after everything he wants. In fact, much of the film revolves around Peter Parker’s wavering belief in himself despite everyone else’s apparent confidence in him. Can Peter take up Tony Stark’s mantle as the charismatic and confident face of the Avengers? He’s not Tony Stark, but he needs to learn that that’s ok. The film is Peter’s inner battle between whether he deserves that role while also struggling to balance his more down-to-earth, high school student priorities.
In all of these things, the film succeeds, but only in-so-far as it can without the greater list of Avengers characters showing their confidence in his earned leadership role. That’ll likely have to happen in the next Avengers film.
I liked the chemistry between Holland’s Peter Parker and Zendaya’s Mary Jane. I liked Jon Favreau, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Ned Leeds in their supporting roles. I liked that the villain felt of an appropriate scale, neither trying to match the global threat of an Avengers film, nor going so small scale as to be insignificant.
For spoilery reasons, I won’t get into here, the film creates a few plot holes or lapses in logic that won’t jive with previous films. But this cinematic universe has a tendency to ask the audience to assume some things on good faith without explaining explicitly how, why, or when.
Marvel’s official MCU version of Spider-Man will certainly entertain most audiences, but I suspect this new interpretation of the character won’t satisfy the longtime comic book fans. I say that as a fan of Tom Holland and his portrayal of the character, but it’s clear this is a less mature, less fully realized version of the character portrayed by Tobey Maguire in the Sam Raimi films (or at least two of them anyway).
While I thought “Homecoming” was a fine MCU film, it didn’t move me the way Raimi’s films did. “Far From Home” gets closer, and does so with such a light-heartedness that it’s impossible to stay mad at. For that alone, it rests comfortably higher on the totem pole than “Homecoming” or either of the Andrew Garfield films.