Everyone’s favourite web-slinging superhero returned this summer in a clever, explosive and quirky action-adventure flick – a little less groundbreaking than fans might have hoped – but still providing nothing less than a solid addition to Marvel’s growing catalogue of movies.
Picking up right where Avengers: Endgame (2019) left off, the film explores how Peter Parker- played to geeky but ever-loveable perfection by Tom Holland – and the world are dealing with the sacrifice of Tony Stark. His death was a gut punch to Peter, who now finds himself under immense pressure to take up the mantle of his mentor and become ‘the next Iron Man.’ The subsequent journey of self-discovery that ensues forms the heart of this film and drives pretty much every decision our hero makes- for better or for worse. It’s an interesting exploration that allows Holland plenty of emotional depth to develop his incarnation of Spider–Man into perhaps the most mature, self-aware version of the character that we’ve seen yet.
If self-discovery is the heart of this film, then the theme of truth is the soul. One of Marvel’s best antagonists – Jake Gyllenhaal’s unstable and megalomaniacal Mysterio – plans to trick the entire world into crowning him the next Tony Stark. It’s almost as if Mysterio has seen the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and knows exactly how the audience expects a superhero film to play out, so he writes and builds his own story with him taking the central role. The fact that it succeeds makes us as complicit as the people of the in-film universe falling for his ruse. It really makes us question our own beliefs about who we trust with power, who we put our faith in to protect us and how easy it is to fall victim to the blinding effects of fame and influence.
All that said, Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) is not without its weaknesses. A predictable and uneven first half takes too long to get to the point in some places and jumps too quickly in others. Similarly, the forgettable CGI-heavy action set pieces feel forced. It must be noted that even the outstanding supporting cast – consisting of Zendaya Maree Stoemer Coleman, Jacob Batalon, Samuel L. Jackson and Jon Favreau – only just succeed in providing enough humour from their varying relationships with our protagonist to keep us engaged.
However, the second half does make up for the first as we see Mysterio’s true powers on display in a series of clever illusions that challenge Spidey both mentally and emotionally. These will have major ramifications for the MCU moving forward -see the post-credit scene – forcing him to come to the realisation that he doesn’t need to be ‘the next Iron Man’ because he’s the first Spider-Man. In a nice throwback to 2008’s Iron Man, this particular scene provides a humanly uplifting moment that then leads to an epic final showdown.
In conclusion, Spider Man: Far From Home (2019) is a clever and creative exploration of responsibility, belief and truth. Despite being quite predictable at times, it shapes up as a solid springboard for the next phase of the MCU.