The friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man travels to new neighbourhoods and takes on new foes in this emotional and action-packed sequel.
WARNING: Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame follow. (But really, it’s been two months, you’ve either heard what happens or you’re not reading this because you’re not on the internet.)
Spider-Man: Far From Home picks up not long after the events of Avengers: Endgame. We don’t know exactly how long, but enough time has passed that the movie opens with a warmly funny homemade tribute to the fallen, and a witty recap of the events they call “the blip”. It’s a smart reset, immediately shifting the tone from the most recent foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – which was, let’s face it, kinda somber – back to the high school hijinks of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) are about to embark on a school trip to Europe, and while the rest of the world wonders how we’ll survive without the protection of the Avengers, Peter’s main focus is on how he’s going to finally express his feelings for MJ (Zendaya). It’s an echo of the plot of Homecoming, and a welcome return to form for this movie.
Continuing to follow the story beats of Homecoming, it isn’t that long before Peter’s high school road trip is interrupted by the appearance of a Big Bad, and he must come out of vacation mode and go back to work as a hero. This time when things go south, instead of Iron Man (Tony Stark), it’s Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) who swoops in as the heroic adult to help Spidey save the day. Peter is clearly still grieving the loss of his (second) father figure, Tony Stark, and quickly latches on to Mysterio and looks to him for leadership and guidance.
One of the smartest, and most emotionally touching, aspects of this film is its treatment of grief. In a post-Endgame world, everyone is dealing with the aftermath of both the disappearance, then sudden and unexpected return, of half the world’s population. For some, that means accepting that people in your life might have moved on without you, or that things changed during your five-year absence. The filmmakers are smart to recognize that even after the disappeared are brought back, there’s no going back to the old normal.
Meanwhile, Peter is grappling with the loss of Iron Man, and feeling the pressure to fill the gap he left. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter had to prove to Iron Man that he had the chops to be a superhero on a global scale; in this sequel, he has to prove that to himself.
Whether it’s fear, or self-doubt, or just a deep-seated need to go back to “normal” after travelling to space and almost defeating Thanos, Peter desperately wants to just be a Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man again. But as anyone who has experienced grief knows, there is no old normal. There’s only the new normal, in which you learn that you’re stronger than you thought you were, and you don’t need a messianic father figure to rescue you, and it’s time for you to be the adult hero you want to see in the world.
Look at me, blathering on about the emotional beats, and I haven’t even mentioned the ample action, humour, witty banter, and CGI battles! Just be assured, they are all plentiful. This movie is a tight two hours, and not a moment of boredom.
I won’t spoil the end-credits sequences here of course, but I will say this: there had better be a third standalone Spider-Man movie on the way, and soon. As much as Homecoming and Far From Home have brilliantly and spectacularly combined action with humour and heart, they’ve set a high bar, and I can’t wait to see a third movie clear the higher bar set up by the final end-credits.
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