It feels like mere days ago that I was sat in the cinema watching the absolute chaos and climax that was Avengers: Endgame. Although we are twenty plus movies deep in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point, it really felt like the most impossible job in the world of film this year was going to be how to follow up that decade in the making extravaganza. Obviously, who do you call when the stakes are so incredibly high? Everybody’s favourite friendly neighbourhood superhero!
Picking up in the universe eight months after Bruce Banner reversed Thanos’s snap, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his fellow Vanished classmates are in the process of restarting the school year that they missed. Excited to embark on a European class trip to Venice, Paris, London and more, and eager to spark his romance with MJ (Zendaya), Peter finds his perfect plans interrupted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who enlists him to help fight a huge elemental fire monster threat alongside new superhero recruit Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). But is Mysterio the real hero everyone believes him to be?
In terms of a follow up to Endgame, Marvel have done the perfect thing in going from one distinctly dramatic and earth shattering tone to an altogether more light and fluffy one. What do you do what you know you can’t match something straight away? You go fro the exact opposite. One of the most enjoyable elements of this new Spider-Man iteration is that it feels very light and breezy in the context of the wider MCU. Our lead characters are all cute teenagers dealing with teenage things, and in all honesty the moments I enjoy the most both in this and in Homecoming are those moments when the film is more of a YA comedy drama than a superhero flick.
This version of Peter Parker is an enjoyable character to spend time with, and his various companions are all great too. Where the film doesn’t quite match up to the majority of recent Marvel releases is in its CGI. Compared to the last few releases in the franchise, the action and CG work in Far From Home feels incredibly weightless and, to be honest, unimpressive. I grant you that Spider-Man in action is probably one of the most difficult superhero characters to make feel authentic, but there were certainly action sequences in the film that felt of a much lower quality than Marvel have treated us to in the past.
The matter of the villain is something that superhero films in general have always tended to struggle with, and I will admit to once again not being overly engaged in the predictable turns of that particular plot. If the entire landscape and direction of a central antagonist only starts to feel interesting in the post credits scene, you know you haven’t got it completely right. One the whole, though, as someone who doesn’t necessarily come in to these Marvel movies with the hope of a great villain, as someone who instead prefers the fun character moments between figures that we have come to really know and love, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a good time.
I said above that this version of Peter Parker is a joy to spend time with, and this is completely down to the multiple fantastic performances of Tom Holland. You’d think it would be a hard task to play a character that is equal parts believable awkward teenage nerd and believable superhero, but Holland pulls it off effortlessly. There is such a sweetness and naivety about this Peter Parker that it is impossible not to fall in love with him.
His connection with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark instantly became one of the most beloved elements of MCU, and the film gives audiences a number of bittersweet, emotional, poignant little references to that lost partnership. The Spider-Man movies might not be my very favourites across the entire MCU, but there is no doubting that Peter Parker as a character is right up there with the best of them.
I’ve come to really anticipate Samuel L. Jackson’s involvement in these movies, no matter how brief or extended. Though less than in Captain Marvel, he does have a good amount to do here and he’s always fun to watch as Nick Fury. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio makes a strong debut in the MCU. Like I said, I tend to check out a little bit when it comes to the villains, and whilst I wasn’t a massive fan of his plot details, he definitely brings a real on screen presence to proceedings.
The likes of Zendaya, Jacob Batalon and Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau all resume their previous roles to great effect. John Favreau in particular brings a lot of expected comedy and unexpected heart, with Peter and Happy providing that small but fitting link back to the glory days of Tony Stark and Iron Man.
Overall, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a certainly a departure from the last time we all came crawling out of the theatres after an emotional Marvel tornado, but in its light and youthfully optimistic tone that film is all the better for its differences to Endgame. I have reservations about some of the CG action at the heart of the movie, but at the end of the day, it might sound silly to say it but the crash bang fighting isn’t what I enter into the MCU for. In all other ways, Far From Home ticks the majority of boxes.