Many months have passed since the Battle of Earth. One of the conflict’s participants, Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man, has attempted to move on with his life to the best of his ability. During this time, he begins harboring feelings for a classmate named Michelle Jones, though she prefers to go by MJ. His school has organized a two-week summer trip to Europe, which Peter sees as the perfect opportunity to confess his feelings. Unfortunately for him, he may find a relaxing getaway is not in his future when he receives a phone call from Nick Fury.
WARNING: This review will contain spoilers for the series thus far.
With the reveal of Spider-Man: Far From Home, the Marvel Cinematic Universe writing staff ended up tipping their hands a little. After all, Peter Parker was one of the many casualties that resulted from Thanos’s Snap. That he was about to receive a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming all but guaranteed his death wouldn’t be permanent. There was a degree of ambiguity surrounding this film in that, despite slating to premiere after Avengers: Endgame, it could just as easily have taken place between Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War, acting as a midquel.
Once Endgame debuted, however, any remaining doubt was effectively destroyed when Peter Parker came back from the dead along with everyone else affected by the Snap. Despite practically being a foregone conclusion that the writers wouldn’t permanently kill off one of their most iconic characters, they still managed to play around with expectations using one specific detail: the amount of time it took for the Avengers to undo the damage Thanos inflicted upon the universe. The comic book storyline that Infinity War and Endgame drew the most inspiration from, The Infinity Gauntlet, was resolved in a relatively short span of time. The battle itself threatened to tear the entire universe asunder, but from the perspective of an ordinary person, it was just a strange few days. This is absolutely not true in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the Avengers would have to wait five years until Scott Lang escaped from the Quantum Realm with the knowledge required to undo the Snap.
As an aftermath to an event as affecting as 3.2 billion people being reduced to dust only to be resurrected five years later, Peter Parker was the perfect viewpoint character with which to explore the ramifications. The narrative correctly assesses that such a scenario would be a logistical nightmare. Many people were displaced upon returning from the dead. In response, May Parker and countless others have been hosting charity events to help them. As a further bit of dramatic irony, given what Thanos was trying to prevent in the first place, there aren’t enough resources to handle the sudden population increase. Then again, the survivors didn’t have it any easier. Many people ended up remarrying in the five-year interim once they believed their spouses weren’t going to return. This isn’t even getting into the severe mental trauma caused by the Snap. Roger Harrington, the head of the Academic Decathlon Team at Peter’s school, is still in therapy, having seen many of his students crumble into dust before his very eyes six years ago. His story is hardly unique, for when Steve Rogers became a grief counselor, he learned it wasn’t usual for the survivors to randomly break down in tears.
On a more humorous note, one student at Peter’s school is immensely frustrated that he and everyone else Snapped out of existence had to start the school year over from the beginning. His outrage is understandable given that they had completed the midterms before dying. He also remarks on the oddity that his younger brother is actually older than him, though his co-host remains unimpressed with his observations. Flash Thompson, the resident ditz, even tries to obtain alcohol in first class on the plane heading for Venice only for MJ to point out that, because he had been among the Snap’s casualties, he’s still technically sixteen despite chronologically being twenty-one. Even the diegetic name for the Snap is itself rather silly: the Blip.
The footage of the Snap occurring is a great piece of black comedy with students at a pep rally fading away only to Blip back into existence five years later during a basketball game, causing the players to crash into and knock them over. It does open up some rather disturbing implications in that certain people would be resurrected in the sky or above water with the planes or boats no longer there. Then again, it stands to reason that, given the Infinity Stones granting its user omniscience when used in conjunction with each other, Bruce Banner would have known how to bring back all of the dead people safely.
Once again, I really enjoy the chemistry between Peter and Ned. Even after the two of them were killed by the Snap, their close friendship remains a constant. Ned even tries to hook up Peter with MJ only for his attempt to backfire. He then ends up in a relationship with Betty Brant, one of the co-hosts of the students’ news program. Fortunately for Peter, and despite the efforts of MJ’s prospective boyfriend, he does end up getting her attention.
Though she debuted in Homecoming, it wasn’t really until Far From Home that Zendaya’s portrayal of MJ had a chance to shine. She is quite a bit different from previous portrayals of the character. Even the fact that MJ does not stand for “Mary Jane” ensures those watching Homecoming for the first time wouldn’t know the character is intended to be Peter Parker’s famous love interest. She has a decidedly gothic vibe to her character with her love of dark humor and frequently deadpan demeanor. Fittingly, Peter intends to buy a Black Dahlia as a gift for her. True to form, when it inevitably gets shattered, she states she likes it better that way. She even manages to do many of her previous versions one better by finding out Peter’s secret identity herself, though by her own admission, she was only 67% sure beforehand.
Although Peter’s story does provide the overarching plot with some much-needed slice-of-life moments, it doesn’t take long for his European expedition to go awry. Before the plot begins in earnest, the community of Ixtenco, Mexico had been razed by an unnatural storm. They soon encounter an entity known as the Earth Elemental, which is subdued by a super-powered individual by the name of Quentin Beck. Peter gets to meet Beck himself when an entity commanding power over water besieges Venice. From there, Peter learns that his world, Earth-616, is just one of many versions of his world among the multiverse. Beck hails from a world that was reduced to cinders by the Fire Elemental. Everyone he knew from that world is dead, and he will stop at nothing to ensure a similar fate does not befall this Earth.
Anyone who is even remotely versed in Spider-Man lore knows that Beck’s story is a barefaced lie. In the comics, Beck is better known as Mysterio. He is one of the many faces gracing Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery, though it’s usually obscured by a fishbowl helmet. The way he is depicted in Far From Home brings to mind Michael Keaton’s interpretation of Vulture. That is, despite being the main antagonist of a Spider-Man film, his primary vendetta is against Tony Stark. Through subtly manipulating Peter’s naïveté and emotional vulnerability following Stark’s death, he obtains the late billionaire’s orbital defense system, which is run by an artificial intelligence named E.D.I.T.H. (Even Dead, I’m The Hero). He was fired by Stark several years ago for his unstable attitude and now leads a group of disgruntled ex-employees. With their help, he intends to stage a terrorist attack in London and be hailed as a hero in the process.
What I like about this setup is that it does have the potential to trick even comic book fans. This is because the Marvel Cinematic Universe had no qualms portraying villainous characters in a positive light. The most obvious examples by this point were Nebula and the Skrulls. Nebula was an intergalactic villainess in the comics. Although she similarly started off as a minor antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy, she eventually defected from her adopted father Thanos’s order, being an instrumental part in gathering the Infinity Stones in Endgame to revive the fallen. Meanwhile, the Skrulls, despite initially being portrayed as villains in Captain Marvel, had the clear moral high ground over the Kree Empire whereas in the comics, both sides were morally ambiguous. With these two cases as precedents, even savvy people may conclude that perhaps Mysterio really is on the level in this universe. Such an inference would be entirely incorrect, and anyone who believed that realized they had been hoodwinked along with Peter himself.
When it comes to the tactics he employs, Beck brings to mind the Scarecrow of Batman fame. Despite having superpowers, he realizes that in a straight fight against Peter, he would be pulverized. At best, he would barely scrape by given that Peter’s powers have been greatly supplemented by Stark’s technology. Therefore, Beck’s modus operandi involves using his holographic technology to cause Peter to doubt his own sense of reality. The effects used in this fight blur reality and falsehoods so well that viewers are just as confused as Peter is. They play out like a well-crafted horror film in how you begin to doubt everything that’s presented to you. If it wasn’t a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is the kind of film that would pretend everything turned out alright only to pull the rug out from under the audience at the last minute.
Although Beck is the clear antagonist of this film, just as much of the conflict stems from within Peter himself. After all, Stark had chosen Peter as his successor, entrusting him with the E.D.I.T.H. defense system. This makes his letting it fall into the hands of a madman all the more painful. As the film goes on, he eventually comes to realize that he can never replace Stark, but he will do his best to watch the world in his stead. Given that the running theme of this film is focused on passing the torch to the next generation, the ending sequences appropriately put a dark spin on the ending of Iron Man.
Peter triumphs over Beck, but the charlatan had one last ace up his sleeve. In his last moments, he sent modified footage of the final battle to the Daily Bugle. Reporter J. Jonah Jameson then blames Spider-Man for unleashing the Elementals upon the world and his identity is subsequently revealed. In other words, the film that started it all ended with Tony Stark admitting his secret identity; Far From Home culminates in Spider-Man being forcibly unmasked. It would appear that the young superhero’s true battle has only just begun.
All in all, Far From Home works well not only as a sequel to Homecoming, but also an epilogue to Endgame. After Endgame resolved a majority of the loose plot threads, many viewers were left wondering if there was any point to continuing the series. Nobody knew at the time whether or not the series could possibly do anything to top the war against Thanos. However, what Far From Home managed to do upon its debut was fill the audience with hope that perhaps, even after an emotionally satisfying, eleven-year-long arc, the series still had plenty of life left in it. All in all, it provides excellent course to the events of Endgame and leaves the audience wanting more.
Final Score: 7/10