Avengers: Endgame was the finale to the MCU’s first decade of storytelling — completing the various plot threads that began with Iron Man in 2008. As the next film on the MCU release schedule, Spider-Man: Far From Home had to serve as the epilogue to Endgame and end a five film arc centered on the titular character. As far as this reviewer is concerned, Far From Home does both exceedingly well.
Far From Home takes Spider-Man outside his normal environment, as Peter Parker and his class embark on a trip to Europe. Still in grieving over the death of his mentor, Tony Stark, Peter tries to use the trip to get away from his larger concerns and to romance his friend, MJ. However, in true Marvel fashion, the class trip goes awry when Peter’s European tour is interrupted by secret agent Nick Fury and new to the Marvel Universe character, Mysterio. Put through a series of trials and tribulations, Spider-Man has to decide on what kind of hero he wants to become.
Spider-Man: Far From Home continues Peter’s coming of age story, with the young hero now struggling to find a place in the MCU post-Endgame. This allows Far From Home to serve the larger universe’s narrative by exploring the MCU’s new status quo, whilst also fueling the continued development of the young Spider-Man.
Staying true to the comic book source material, much of the film revolves around Peter dealing with his shifting responsibilities. An overwhelmed Peter tries to escape his life as a superhero in the new status quo, refusing to take his suit with him on the class trip. Appropriately, Peter can’t shake the responsibilities he has, finding an even bigger menace in Europe than he has in his home neighborhood. It’s a very relatable story with Peter learning to accept his growing list of responsibilities as he grows older (Peter is supposedly a year older than he is in Homecoming).
That sense of aging is reflected in other parts of the script as well, such as the aftermath of the Avengers returning everyone Thanos snapped out of existence five years after the fact. While they have stayed roughly the same, everyone around them has aged. In many ways, Far From Home is a much smarter film than its predecessor, playing with bigger themes and strengthening the supporting cast.
Peter’s supporting cast is given more attention than in Homecoming. Small character moments adding some depth to Peter’s classmates. They still aren’t as well rounded as the supporting cast in prior Spider-Man films, but the foundations are put in place for a more expansive third film.
Zendaya’s character, MJ, was mainly a source of comic relief in Homecoming with her deadpan tone and dark sensibilities. In Far From Home, the writers delve deeper into her character, allowing MJ to become more than a quip machine (which is Spider-Man’s job anyway). Even characters like Flash Thompson, whose main character trait in Homecoming was being a dick, gets small moments that make their characters come to life. A third film would ideally capitalize on all the groundwork being laid out in Far From Home.
The newest player in Spider-Man universe isn’t the most deeply written character, but is a well-executed adaptation. Mysterio is a testament to the MCU’s ability to perfectly render super-villains in live action — even if they have a fishbowl on their head. Mysterio’s costume and gimmick are accurate to the comics, but not without a few modifications to better suit the medium. There’s isn’t much psychological depth to the character (Mysterio’s most complex character trait being how he reflects certain politicians), but he carries a strong on screen presence due to an excellent performance from Gyllenhaal. Mysterio is vain, egotistical, and completely unhinged — all of which Gyllenhaal portrays in an entertaining fashion. In a film with an incredibly strong cast, Gyllenhaal manages to steal the audiences’ attention whenever he is on screen.
The film’s plotting isn’t as tight as the previous installment, but Far From Home pulls itself together in the third act. Up until a very significant plot point, the film’s narrative feels strung together and somewhat rushed. However, after that particular plot point passes, the film’s pacing improves and the story feels more focused.
Far From Home’s biggest success is the convincing character relationships, particularly those of a romantic nature. As much as it is a superhero coming of age story, Far From Home features of heavy dose of romantic subplots. Romance is handled realistically and with quite a bit of nuance, something not a lot of films get right. The romantic relationships aren’t idealized or simplistic, but are instead accurate to something one would see outside the movie theater. Teenage dating, for example, is frequently over romanticized on screen. Majority of the time it isn’t an epic love story that will last forever with a deep burning passion. In reality, first relationships can be awkward and difficult to navigate. All that angst and immaturity is perfectly conveyed in the script, as well as Zendaya and Tom Holland’s strong performances.
The film’s closing act is a bigger scale threat than anything Spider-Man faced in Homecoming, but there’s a reason for that. Far From Home is about Peter finding his own way as a hero and stepping up in a world that’s lost Iron Man. As a result, the challenges facing Spider-Man have grown larger to test the hero’s resolve. His role in the Marvel Universe has changed, and the increased scale of the threats he stops in Far From Home are evidence of that fact.
If the larger scale threat wasn’t enough to show Peter’s character development, the film’s final scene brings in classic Spidey elements to emphasize how far Peter has come in his development as a hero. The film’s closing moments feels like an ending to a five film long origin story, and audiences have finally received a fully formed Spider-Man.
Even though Peter’s now operating solo, Far From Home acknowledges the importance Stark played in his development. Iron Man will always be a part of who this Spider-Man is, and Far From Home strikes that perfect balance — showing a bright new future that honors the past.
Far From Home completes a satisfying five film character arc for Peter Parker, and I’m excited to see where Spider-Man’s on screen adventures will go in the coming years.