It is worth noting that the main discussion topic from the new Spider-Man may well centre on the very end.
Coming just over two months after Avengers: End Game and the end of several key pillars of the MCU, Marvel currently has a blank slate ahead of it. There are 3 films scheduled for 2020, but at present, no publication for what is in them.
The main anticipation was therefore to see if Far From Home could yield any clues for what’s next, and sure enough, the two cut-scenes during this film’s credits hint the post-End Game world is about to go in some very interesting directions with its content.
As far as this film in itself goes, it was tempting to see the very existence of Spider-Man: Far From Home as a plot spoiler, given that while details of it were announced before Infinity War, the fact that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was one of the victims of Thanos’ Snap meant that this film guaranteed his return, assuming anyone thought he wouldn’t return.
Set some 8 months on from the ending to Avengers: End Game, the world is still adjusting to the return of the people who disappeared and the loss of several key Avengers in resolving the mess.
To that end, there’s even an intriguing glimpse of a homeless shelter filled with people who returned to find other people had moved into their homes.
But the film instead quickly aligns around its main premise, which is Peter Parker’s vacation. Burnt out amid external desire for Spider-Man to step up and be the new Iron Man, Parker wants nothing but more but to continue he and his chum’s return from being victims of Thanos to leave New York and go on a European school holiday.
For Peter, what his main plan for fun is looks fairly simple, if complex in that adolescent romance way – buy a present at the tour’s first stop in Venice for his crush MJ (Zendaya), then tell her of his love on top of the Eiffel Tower. However, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) has different plans.
In the film’s prologue, he and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are tracking a phenomenon that destroyed a small town in Mexico when they cross paths with said super-natural event and a mysterious hero called Quentin (Jake Gyllenhaal), who later adopts the name Mysterio.
When a similar monster, known as an Elemental, attacks Venice, Mysterio and Spider-Man end up teaming up, leading to a further fight in Prague, with Fury conveniently hijacking the school trip in order to get Spider-Man fully integrated into the mission. Further hijacks soon take him to Berlin, the Netherlands and a heavily trailed final showdown in London.
The film is pleasing enough. On its own terms, its a fun enough sequel to Homecoming. Holland continues to excel as the central superhero, providing a well worked take on the adolescent superhero take with the added complications of feeling like he isn’t what the world is looking for.
Usually good value is Gyllenhaal and he equally excels on his MCU debut, both in the initial guise of Mysterio and of the film’s consequent character development. Many familiar with the source material will be aware of the turn that it could take, which is done here with a very modern fashion that ties in with the film’s themes of how perception can be deceptive.
Zendaya gets more to do here than she did in Homecoming, and superbly slots in to the ensemble, providing a awkward and excellently deadpan counter-foil.
It is also great to see Jackson return front & centre this year as Fury, this time without the de-aging filters in Captain Marvel, albeit in a way that goes in a more unexpected direction as it progresses.
If there is criticism, it has to be said it kind of struggles to hit the highest highs in comparison with the excellent Homecoming and Spider-Verse, and feels at times where it is treading on familiar ground.
It also at times feels like the cast & crew would rather be making the Peter Parker/MJ awkward summer romance story, which is well done, whereas the hero stuff with detours and action stuff that punctuates the dialogue at times feels inserted into the place from a different film. Spider-Man movies have always had the central tension, but it doesn’t feel as smooth here as it has in previous films.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is still nevertheless a fun and breezy flick, and one that does ultimately enough to justify a swift return to the cinemas for Marvel at a time when End Game is still barely wrapping up its own record-breaking run.
Its not a stone-cold knockout like some recent spider adventures, but its still a very watchable use of time, and one that certainly takes some relish in creating a situation that makes the audience want to return from more.