NOTE: Be advised that there are some hefty spoilers from this past April’s, “Avengers: Endgame” in this review. If you have yet to see, “Avengers: Endgame”, and are concerned with preserving your enjoyment of the story, you may wish to simply scroll down to the bottom of the review for the score and final points!
It’s a whole new era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the wake of this past April’s Avengers: Endgame, the climactic crossover movie that capped off a massive twenty-two movie story arc from Marvel Studios! With the threat of Thanos and his forces eradicated, the Infinity Stones now returned to their rightful places in time, and the Avengers once again scattered following the deaths of Iron Man and Black Widow, along with Steve Rogers passing the Captain America mantle on to Sam Wilson after retiring into the past, the world of the MCU will never be the same. Fortunately, a familiar, friendly face is here to quickly bring moviegoing audiences into the bold new post-Thanos era of the MCU, that being your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, freshly restored to life after being killed alongside trillions of others across the universe, following the devastating effect of Thanos’ Infinity Stone-powered snap in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War!
After the thoroughly stellar, but undeniably dramatic and emotionally hefty storyline of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man truly is the perfect face to follow up such an overwhelming spectacle for the MCU, spearheading a second solo movie with another accessible, light-hearted and fun adventure centered upon earning one’s fledgling superhero stripes. This time, Peter finds himself up against a larger foe on a grander scale to boot, now without his old mentor, Tony Stark to lean on, something that Peter is constantly reminded of, as ever more monuments to the fallen Iron Man spring up across the world. Now that Peter has helped Spider-Man fully earn his place among the MCU’s other heroes as well, he’s suddenly given a big new lesson in great power and great responsibility with Spider-Man: Far From Home, a sequel that proves bigger and more ambitious than Spider-Man: Homecoming, while maintaining the same infectious optimism and coming-of-age charm.
Avid MCU enthusiasts will certainly recognize that Avengers: Endgame is an impossibly tough act to follow, but when it comes down to it, Spider-Man: Far From Home isn’t truly trying to follow it. Instead, this MCU sequel functions more like a great slice of comfort food, finding just the right balance between upping the scale of the MCU’s Spider-Man movies, while reducing it from the universal-scale conflict that has comprised the past two Avengers movies, and wrapping everything around a sweet, relatable teenage romance story all the while. This not only makes Spider-Man: Far From Home a superb Spider-Man movie sequel for the MCU, but also a very promising foundation for the next phase of the MCU’s movies, which so far haven’t shed any momentum in a world that now finds itself without its flagship hero.
Tom Holland returns to the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man with aplomb in Spider-Man: Far From Home, continuing to develop the character as he grows a little more, and now faces down a world without the man he looks up to most. Attempting to pick up his old life in 2023, five years after Thanos’ fateful snap first vaporized half of all life in the MCU, Peter and his recognizable classmates at Midtown High, who were all victims of Thanos’ snap as well, apparently (or, “The Blip”, as it’s since come to be known by the civilian public), find themselves repeating their junior year, having not aged a day since they first disappeared in 2018. Apparently, Aunt May, once again played by Marisa Tomei, was also vaporized off-screen by Thanos’ snap in 2018, though she nonetheless remembers discovering her nephew’s identity as Spider-Man at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, leading to her taking a key role as the spokesperson for Spider-Man during his community appearances.
As much as Spider-Man: Far From Home pushes Peter to new heights as a superhero, pitting him against more dangerous enemies, with no Iron Man safety net this time, it’s fantastic to see this sequel remain very adept at spotlighting down-to-earth conflicts and relationships between its characters. In fact, much of the driving force behind Peter’s character conflict in Spider-Man: Far From Home is simply wanting to tell his classmate, MJ, once again played by Zendaya, that he has a crush on her. This cute plan is constantly interrupted by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury however, who needs Spider-Man to suit up and join himself and Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, now rogue operatives in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s collapse almost a decade ago, to battle powerful new villains in the form of the Elementals, massive monsters deriving their power from the four foundational elements of earth, air, water and fire, who apparently come from another dimension.
This explanation of the Elementals comes by way of Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, a high-powered superhero from a parallel universe, who lost his own variation of Earth to the Elementals’ destruction. Gyllenhaal is an easy highlight in Spider-Man: Far From Home as well, wonderfully portraying a character that serves as a spectacular apparent successor to Iron Man, with his civilian identity also functioning well as a ‘cool uncle’ for Peter to look up to, assuring him and providing him guidance in a more seemingly positive, less critical way than Tony Stark, and especially Nick Fury, tend to deliver. Beck’s playful, yet wise disposition complements the cranky, impatient Nick Fury very well, with Fury clearly not happy about having to rely on Spider-Man, due to the rest of the MCU’s superheroes all somehow being simultaneously unavailable, and more on that later.
Ultimately though, Peter just wants to get his moment with MJ, and for all of the sweeping destruction and chaos that the Elementals cause, that’s always Peter’s sweet, simple main goal. This goal is also nicely highlighted by Peter’s best friend, Ned Leeds, once again played by Jacob Batalon, who finds himself in an unexpected, lovably ‘high school’ romance with Betty Brant, once again played by Angourie Rice, in this sequel. The noticeably juvenile, yet lovable nature of the character relationships among the teens keeps the coming-of-age elements that worked so effectively in Spider-Man: Homecoming once again functioning well in Spider-Man: Far From Home, even if Peter’s sudden fixation on a, “Normal life” does noticeably come closer to mirroring some of the Peter Parker conflicts that Sony Pictures has already done several times in their standalone Spider-Man movies from years past. Still, the heavy dramatic fallout of Avengers: Endgame nonetheless also plays into Peter’s character arc very well, keeping Spider-Man nicely rooted in the overall stakes of the MCU, which still appears to have found interesting new threats to explore, even after Thanos and the Black Order have been exterminated.
Spider-Man: Far From Home makes the challenging decision to take Peter extensively outside of his comfort zone, transplanting him into several European locations, rather than keeping him in his usual stomping grounds of New York. While this may not sit perfectly well with some longtime fans of Spider-Man’s character, since New York is often such a huge part of Spider-Man’s core character identity, this bold new step in Peter’s journey does effectively reflect the fact that Peter is now without the guidance and presence of Tony Stark, finding himself in a truly foreign world that can no longer depend on the combined might of the Avengers in the way that it once could. It’s a subtle, but undeniably clever touch, particularly through Peter having to keep finding excuses to duck away from the prying eyes of his teachers and classmates, who are on the same European excursion, just in time to also find themselves ambushed by the highly destructive and dangerous Elementals!
Narratively and thematically, the storyline of Spider-Man: Far From Home feels satisfying and appropriate, furthering the dedicated character arc of the MCU’s Spider-Man, while also serving as a solid first step for a post-Thanos MCU. That said however, there are undeniably a few small, but noticeable issues with the premise of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which doesn’t fully hold up to scrutiny. The biggest among these plot holes is just why the threat of the Elementals completely fails to draw the attention of the MCU’s other superheroes. Sure, Thor being unavailable makes sense, since he’s run off with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Black Panther presumably has affairs to run in Wakanda, but Doctor Strange should logically be all over the Elementals, due to extra-dimensional threats and global magical chaos falling well within the Sorcerer Supreme’s purview. Where the hell is the good Doctor?! Sure, the movie addresses this by saying Strange is, “Unavailable”, but it never actually elaborates on why he’s unavailable, or even why Wong can’t lend a hand, for that matter! Similarly, Captain Marvel’s unavailability is simply hand-waved away, even though she could probably sort out the Elementals in no time flat! It’s not like Nick Fury doesn’t have a way to efficiently contact her!
Likewise, if you’re already an established fan of Spider-Man from other Marvel media, you’ll be able to predict several of the big story turns in Spider-Man: Far From Home pretty far in advance, and most frustratingly, that includes the big third act twist. That said however, after the highly emotional and shocking narrative roller coaster of Avengers: Endgame, I suppose there’s also something to be said for Spider-Man: Far From Home functioning effectively as superhero movie comfort food, providing a more light-hearted and undemanding odyssey for a likable hero that doesn’t have too much overbearing angst going on, at least not in his MCU incarnation. The movie undeniably has to strain to make its premise work, since the odds of Spider-Man being literally the only superhero that can save the MCU from its latest threat of global destruction is a pretty massive stretch, but if you can suspend your disbelief there, Spider-Man: Far From Home is nonetheless a pleasing and fulfilling sophomore solo movie for the MCU’s Wall-Crawler, one that nicely positions him as a friendly ambassador for what’s to come next, now that the Infinity Stones and Thanos are behind us.
(NOTE: The spoiler section, when clicked, discusses post-credits scenes, the implications of Mysterio proclaiming that a Multiverse exists for the MCU, the status of Spider-Man: Homecoming’s surviving villains, and any potential connections to the wider MCU that Spider-Man: Far From Home taps into)
As many Spider-Man fans no doubt predicted, given Mysterio’s deceptive and villainous tendencies in other Marvel media, Mysterio is thus completely full of crap in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and doesn’t actually come from a parallel universe. Instead, Quentin Beck, Mysterio’s civilian identity, was actually a disgruntled former Stark Industries employee, who developed the holographic technology, B.A.R.F. that Tony Stark demonstrated during one of the opening sections of Captain America: Civil War, confirming a long-held fan theory that Beck was indeed behind this technology, previously relegated to being a mere distraction when Tony was showing it off for a gag. Beck, alongside other former Stark Industries employees, one of which includes the hapless scientist that Obadiah Stane berated all the way back during the original Iron Man movie from 2008 (complete with Peter Billingsley reprising the role!), decided to conspire to trick the world using Beck’s hyper-advanced holographic technology, crafting Beck’s ‘Mysterio’ persona as a new superhero that would allow them to seize the legacy of Iron Man, which would then supposedly be controlled by more intelligent and temperate scientific minds. It’s actually a fantastic storyline for the MCU’s Mysterio, who joins Michael Keaton’s Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming as one of Marvel Studios’ best villains to date!
Sadly though, if you were hoping to see a return from Michael Keaton’s Vulture, Michael Mando’s pre-Scorpion Mac Gargan, Michael Chernus’ Phineas Mason/Tinkerer, or Bokeem Woodbine’s Herman Schultz/Shocker, none of them end up appearing in Spider-Man: Far From Home. This leaves the post-credits Sinister Six tease from Spider-Man: Homecoming frustratingly un-addressed, even in this sequel, though the first of two post-credits scenes in Spider-Man: Far From Home at least lays another promising foundation for the coming of the Sinister Six. Despite Mysterio ultimately perishing from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the movie’s climax (somewhat mirroring Quentin Beck’s original death in Marvel Comics lore), Beck nonetheless gets the last laugh against Peter, as he leaks footage that reveals Peter Parker’s identity as Spider-Man to the entire world! The footage from Beck also happens to be circulated by TheDailyBugle.net, an internet-based new take on Marvel Universe newspaper, The Daily Bugle, complete with J. Jonah Jameson delivering the news that Spider-Man is a menace to society, who murdered the well-meaning superhero, Mysterio in cold blood! J. Jonah Jameson making his surprise MCU debut in the mid-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home is exciting enough, but better still is that Jameson is once again played by J.K. Simmons, who reprises his role from Sam Raimi’s standalone Sony Pictures-produced trilogy of Spider-Man movies, as well as various Marvel cartoons!
A second post-credits scene also reveals something even more unexpected, a twist that will inevitably have massive consequences for the new post-Thanos era of the MCU! In a shocking turn, it’s revealed that Nick Fury and Maria Hill were actually Skrulls the whole time, specifically Talos and Soren, respectively! Ben Mendolsohn and Sharon Blynn reprise their roles as Talos and Soren from this past March’s Captain Marvel, discussing working for the real Nick Fury, who appears to be on a Skrull spaceship, commanding the Skrulls to oversee some mysterious project. This twist could set up any number of new story turns for the MCU, but nonetheless definitely appears to indicate that the Skrulls are going to be playing a big part in the MCU’s next major story arc! The real Nick Fury appearing to be mentally soothed by an image of a beach, one heavily resembling the T.A.H.I.T.I. program used to implant false memories in the resurrected Phil Coulson, also works as something of a neat nod to ABC television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., likely also serving as a great hint that the Skrulls may have been the ones who tipped Fury off as to how to potentially revive and/or stabilize Coulson after his untimely death in The Avengers, or at the very least, Fury’s exposure to Skrull technology is what allowed him to put together his own strategy for Coulson’s resurrection on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Jon Watts returns to direct Spider-Man: Far From Home, which allows this follow-up to remain very true to the focus on ordinary high school-era coming-of-age struggles that effectively defined Spider-Man: Homecoming. With the move to a globetrotting scale as well, Watts can increase both the scope of his set pieces and of Peter’s burgeoning crush on MJ, which drives Peter’s civilian conflict, complementing Spider-Man’s conscription by Nick Fury to battle the Elementals with Mysterio. Most importantly, the heart of Spider-Man: Far From Home once again beats very strongly with both sides of Peter’s identity, preserving a sense of wide-eyed charm that doesn’t buckle under the scrutiny of larger action sequences and more intensive character conflicts.
Watts being trusted with standing on the front lines of the MCU’s new era is also crucial, and fortunately, his direction revels in the opportunity to start forging some bold new ground for Marvel Studios. The fallout of Avengers: Endgame and the distinct lack of presence from the surviving Avengers is captured wonderfully, removing the last of Peter’s training wheels as he truly becomes the apparent last hope of humanity in the fight against the Elementals. Watts’ direction also effectively plays with being able to utilize the psychadelic and unpredictable illusions of Mysterio to boot, which just keep building upon their own over-the-top craziness, until they border on the mind-twisting levels of Doctor Strange’s visuals, in a good way! Much like with Spider-Man: Homecoming, Watts’ direction perfectly balances coming-of-age wholesomeness with a light-hearted, yet global-scale superhero movie, continuing the adventures of the youngest Avenger with more lovable humour and surprising maturity.
Michael Giacchino returns to score the music suite to Spider-Man: Far From Home, after also putting together the soundtrack to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Once again, Giacchino’s score proves to be a great one too. Remixing and reworking a few of the familiar music themes from Spider-Man: Homecoming, while also introducing several new compositions with a particular emphasis on larger-than-life awe and an almost retro adventure movie feel, Giacchino’s music suite for Spider-Man: Far From Home exceptionally complements the many action-packed moments, while also doing a good job of adding both licensed and original tracks to serve as appropriately cheeky backdrops for the more humourous and down-to-earth shenanigans. There’s even some surprising emotional punch behind some of the tracks meant to play over scenes involving mourning what’s been lost in the wake of Avengers: Endgame, particularly during the many moments where the weight of Tony Stark’s legacy falls especially heavily on Peter’s shoulders, as the question of who will be the next Iron Man continues to haunt both Peter himself, and the world at large.
Fortunately, even with Iron Man being gone, and Peter remaining the youngest and greenest Avenger at this point, the rest of Spider-Man: Far From Home’s sound design continues to impress, especially in the action scenes! The incredible ferocity and destruction behind the Elementals is wonderfully captured, particularly in premium formats like IMAX, as beautiful European locations are brilliantly ravaged by the creatures. Likewise, Peter’s technology and familiar tricks continue to provide the same degree of unique big screen flavour, alongside Mysterio’s own abilities, which deliver an especially spectacular and over-the-top series of mystical assaults against the menace of the Elementals. Sure, the action feels a little more playful in comparison to Avengers: Endgame, but Spider-Man: Far From Home’s audio engineering nonetheless does the Web-Slinger proud, particularly now that he has some much bigger and more dangerous enemies to face off against!
Spider-Man: Homecoming seemingly had a decreased emphasis on visual effects, in favour of a somewhat more grounded, tech-based conflict that diminished spectacle in favour of more impressive stunts and acrobatics. Spider-Man: Far From Home meanwhile still has plenty of stunts and acrobatics on display, but it also goes in the opposite visual direction as its predecessor, piling on ambitious CGI and over-the-top visual design, and finally bringing the MCU’s Spider-Man movie franchise into the big leagues of visual fidelity! The Elementals look fantastic, namely Hydro-Man and Molten Man, who both serve as the cornerstones of two of the movie’s major action sequences, but even they feel dwarfed by just how stunningly Mysterio is captured in his live-action debut! Despite being something of a goofy character in Marvel Comics lore, Mysterio’s grand, unpredictable abilities suddenly feel effectively engaging and legitimately imposing in Spider-Man: Far From Home, where their sheer visual scope is truly unleashed, creating many amazing sights and visual flourishes that have so far never been explored in any Spider-Man movie to date, including Sony Pictures’ self-contained Spider-Man movies, up to and including last year’s excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse!
I was also fortunate to catch a screening of Spider-Man: Far From Home in IMAX 3D, allowing me to go all out on the movie’s visuals! Unlike Avengers: Endgame, along with its canonical predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: Far From Home is only partially shot with IMAX cameras, but all of the major action scenes are given the full IMAX treatment, alongside a few important character moments as well. It’s well worth springing for the IMAX upgrade with Spider-Man: Far From Home too, where the heightened scale and truly massive action sequences leap to especially brilliant life, allowing you to get the very most out of a movie that quite easily dwarfs its 2017 predecessor in terms of action-packed scope! Likewise, the movie’s 3D presentation is pretty good, allowing the sequences with the Elementals and Mysterio especially to shine with extra immersion, particularly with so many projectiles flying around throughout them! The 3D isn’t quite on the level of some of Sony’s more recent standalone Spider-Man movies, but it’s still worth the upgrade if you happen to enjoy 3D movies, even if the IMAX upgrade is certainly the bigger priority. Regardless of your preferred format however, Spider-Man: Far From Home looks awesome throughout its runtime, quickly capitalizing on the opportunity to take Peter Parker out of his comfort zone, and pit him against some truly novel threats, which continue to tap into new visual and narrative territory for the MCU.
Carrying both more weight and more scope than its 2017 predecessor, Spider-Man: Far From Home feels like an unexpected, yet nonetheless rewarding direction for a sophomore offering in the MCU Web-Slinger’s movie catalogue. Whereas Spider-Man: Homecoming more evidently felt like a simple sidestory in MCU canon, one more evidently functioning as an unplanned bonus to a story template that didn’t originally include it before Sony felt like sharing the Spider-Man film license, Spider-Man: Far From Home benefits from Spider-Man being more heavily established in the MCU at this point, allowing itself to feel like a much more essential and exciting chapter for the MCU’s movies, albeit without betraying that wholesome and sweetly optimistic direction that made Spider-Man: Homecoming such a gem beforehand!
Even with the losses and deaths of Avengers: Endgame still quite clearly weighing on both the MCU’s fictional denizens and its real-life fans however, Spider-Man: Far From Home proves to be the perfect soother to such a hard-won victory against Thanos, assuring MCU enthusiasts that everything will be just fine, even as new threats begin to stir. As much as Spider-Man: Homecoming effectively felt like the point where Tom Holland’s Spider-Man earned his place among the MCU’s growing lineup of Avengers, Spider-Man: Far From Home feels like the point where Peter Parker truly comes into his own as a hero, no longer one in training, but an independent and responsible protector in his own right. Peter may still prefer being a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, but Spider-Man: Far From Home definitively proves that, even when you take Spidey out of his natural environment, he can still soar when the story and stakes are so potently heartfelt and exciting!
- Increased scope in the action, special effects and set pieces
- Maintains the sweet, lovable sense of heart from its 2017 predecessor
- Strong storytelling that exceptionally sets up a new era for the MCU
- The premise doesn't completely hold up to scrutiny
- Hardcore Spider-Man fans can easily spot the big twist