Spidey Lives

Spider-Man: Far From Home was the break we needed after the biggest event in superhero movie history. As the twenty-third installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Far From Home is basically a 2 hour epilogue for Avengers: Endgame. Despite the massive book closing scale of Endgame, Far From Home was like Ant-Man in how it officially ended Phase Three. Both of which have been referred to as MCU palette cleansers. I enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming a lot more than I was expecting, but Spider-Man’s European Vacation sounded a little pedestrian. Especially after something as crowd pleasing as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I was once again skeptical, but for different reasons. My only concern was how they seemed to be handling their choice of villain.

Despite Sony continuing to keep their sticky fingers on the franchise, their influence wasn’t as obvious as Homecoming. Jon Watts is still the director, but Marvel Studios producer Kevin Feige continued to guide the high school franchise similar to Harry Potter. Which is why the sequel came out only 2 years after the first solo movie. Putting the marketing team in the tricky position of promoting Far From Home without spoiling the circumstances of Spidey’s return. The first teaser made no mention of Endgame. The second trailer released after Endgame made the ironic decision to have notable big mouth Tom Holland warn the viewer of spoilers. Far From Home ended up being an undemanding follow up with enough surprises to make it memorable…

49. Spider-Man Far From Home

Spider-Man swings with MJ

Spider-Man: Far From Home isn’t nearly as game changing as Spider-Man 2, but it’s a vast improvement over The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It actually has more in common with Iron Man 2 for a variety of reasons. Both sequels were closely released in their respective MCU Phases and both deal with drone warfare. The title Far From Home made it clear that every film in this Spider-Man trilogy was going to use the word “Home.” It was a weird decision, but I’ve come to embrace it. Just like I slowly started to embrace the changes Sony made to the Spider-Man mythos. It’s still not the comic accurate version I wanted, but the cast is just as funny as they were before. Even if Sony continued announcing every single ethnically diverse student in Peter’s class, regardless of importance. As well as make several contractually obligated references to the MCU. Just like Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home begins with the Sony & Columbia Pictures logo before showing the only Marvel Studios characters they were able to secure.

Nick Fury & Maria Hill finally make another substantial appearance after gradually decreasing in importance. Neither appeared in Captain America: Civil War, but they were at least turned to dust in the Infinity War after-credits scene. Cobie Smulders continued making appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, while Samuel L. Jackson had a digitally de-aged co-starring role in Captain Marvel. They both had a quick cameo at Stark’s funeral, but their role in the MCU was never clarified. They seem to be continuing some form of S.H.I.E.L.D. business when they track a disturbance in Ixtenco, Mexico. It’s there that classic Spider-Man villain Mysterio finally makes his grand debut. In the comics, Quentin Beck is a disgraced Hollywood special effects genius who uses high tech illusions to start a life of crime. I’ve been wanting to see a live-action Mysterio for years, since he’s another iconic Stan Lee & Steve Ditko creation who’s debut is as old as The Amazing Spider-Man #13. His costume was tricky to pull off, but they manage to make his green spandex, purple cape, and goofy fishbowl helmet look cool on the big screen. The only thing added was a golden chestplate.

Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t known for blockbusters, but he actually has a long history with the Spider-Man franchise. Fun fact: Gyllenhaal was originally meant to replace Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2 if he didn’t get over his back problems. They also coincidentally played brothers in the movie Brothers. So Gyllenhaal was due for a Spider-Man role. He makes a surprisingly convincing villain, but the trailers tried very hard to convince you otherwise. Unless you’ve never cracked open a comic book, I was waiting patiently for the big reveal. Until then, the extremely obscure Elementals were passed off as the main villains. Unlike the comics no one’s ever heard of, the movie uses elements from existing Spider-Man villains to create the Elementals. Wind is modeled after Cyclone, Earth is modeled after Sandman, Water is modeled after Hydro-Man, and Fire is modeled after Molten Man. Their CGI appearances are a lot more monstrous than any of their loose comic counterparts. Hydro-Man’s alter ego Morris Bench is the only one explicitly mentioned.

The Wind Elemental has already been defeated, so Mysterio magically disposes of the Earth Elemental in Mexico before the Marvel Studios logo is shown. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” plays over an “In Memoriam” of all the fallen Avengers. Despite the generally breezy lighthearted tone, Far From Home couldn’t ignore the immediate aftermath of Endgame. Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Vision are all acknowledged along with the Snap, which will forever be referred to as the Blip. This movie treats it more like a joke with students vanishing, then reappearing in awkward positions. It’s still very tragic, but good humor can come out of it. Betty Brant and her co-anchor also explain what the 5 year interval means for the students who weren’t snapped out of existence. Peter Parker, his best friend Ned Leeds, crush MJ, bully Flash Thompson, and other students are the same age they were, but some students are 5 years older. Notably Peter’s romantic rival Brad Davis played by Asian actor Remy Hii. Flash should probably be the one vying for MJ’s affection, but he’s still a snobby rich kid.

I’m still not crazy about their portrayal of Mary Jane, but only referring to her as MJ at least made it less distracting. She’s still a sarcastic oddball, but Zendaya is a lot more likeable in the part. Tom Holland and Zendaya have great chemistry in interviews, so I expected their characters to get together eventually. I actually love the teen romance in the sequel. Peter suddenly has a big crush on MJ and it’s all he can think about during their class trip to Europe. It’s an unexplained 2 week field trip that seems very extravagant for high school Juniors. Apart from Washington D.C. in Homecoming, this is the first Spider-Man movie to leave Queens, New York for almost the entire movie. Various European countries are explored since the MCU tends to be much more international. Peter’s motivation is the exact opposite of his motivation in Homecoming. Before he wanted to prove himself as an Avenger, now he just wants to take a break as a regular teenager. I know it would’ve slowed down the movie’s momentum, but I do wish they didn’t delete the sequence of Peter getting ready to go on vacation.

Aside from featuring the bodega, it also would’ve been the first action scene with Peter in his Iron Spider suit. Without it, almost an hour goes by without Spider-Man. Peter does however suit up as Spider-Man for Aunt May’s charitable benefits. May was also blipped out of existence, so the cliffhanger of her discovering her nephew’s secret identity hasn’t been addressed until now. Turns out she’s very okay with it. Marisa Tomei’s role is slightly expanded to include a possible romance with Happy that makes Peter uncomfortable. Although Iron Man’s story has all but concluded, Jon Favreau continues to stick around as Tony’s faithful forehead of security. Happy has become a lot less frustrated with Peter, but he does tell him not to ignore calls from Nick Fury. Despite his death, Tony Stark’s legacy is felt all throughout the sequel. Whether it’s memorials, documentaries, or reporters asking Spider-Man if he’ll be the next Iron Man. After being foolishly forgotten about in Homecoming, Infinity War rightfully acknowledged Spidey’s famous spider-sense. Aunt May unfortunately gives it the awkward nickname “Peter tingle.” She tells him to pack his spider-suit, but he decides not to put it in his travel case (with Uncle Ben’s initials written on it).

Peter’s goal to get closer to MJ goes hilariously awry on a flight to their first destination. Martin Starr was already funny in the first movie, but now Mr. Harrington is a major scene stealer. J. B. Smoove is also added as Mr. Dell, another bumbling science teacher who blames the movie’s events on witches. Despite the size of the group, only the important students get attention while on the trip. Tony Revolori continues to try his best as Flash. Admiring Spider-Man while at the same time picking on Peter is a good callback to the comics. He’s also given a live streaming subplot and a very out of nowhere moment dedicated to his absentee parents. Jacob Batalon and Angourie Rice get the most hilarious subplot when Ned & Betty suddenly become a couple. It’s an unexpected reference to the comics and ironic considering they both starred in Every Day together. Ned is still the reliable best friend, but he is more distracted by Betty. Venice, Italy is where Peter buys a black dahlia necklace for MJ, until everything goes wrong when the Water Elemental attacks. Since Peter left his suit at their crappy hotel, he wears a jester mask to hide his identity.

It’s not how I imagined Spider-Man would meet Mysterio, but it is cool to see Peter webbing a bell tower in place and Mysterio using magic against the watery beast. The name Mysterio actually comes from news coverage where the students compare him to Iron Man & Thor. Mysterio does fit comfortably in the MCU thanks to Doctor Strange making magic believable. Things get worse for Peter when Nick Fury tranquilizes Ned and hijacks their summer vacation. If Mr. Stark was the cool uncle, then Nick Fury is the mean step-dad. It’s another relationship that isn’t totally necessary, but it does add further validation to Spider-Man’s role in the MCU. He mentions seeing Parker at the funeral and supplies him with a pair of glasses that Tony left for him. The glasses contain an A.I. called E.D.I.T.H. who replaces Karen from the first movie since suit hijinks are no longer a thing. E.D.I.T.H. is Stark’s contingency operating system humorously short for “Even Dead I’m the Hero.” Peter removes his mask to meet Fury’s agents since he’s been kind of reckless with his secret identity, especially in front of the Avengers. Along with Hill, Fury’s team also includes Numan Acar as Dmitri Smerdyakov. He never becomes the Chameleon, but he does go undercover as Peter’s replacement bus driver.

Peter also meets Quentin Beck for the first time while accidentally giving him the name Mysterio. Although I knew he was deceiving Peter as a hip replacement mentor, his story is very convincing. Beck makes the Multiverse theory a lot more credible by claiming to be from Earth-833. He even refers to their dimension as the comic accurate Earth-616. Mysterio claims to be the last of a heroic battalion that fought the Elementals on his Earth. Fury specifically wants Spider-Man’s help since Thor is offworld, Doctor Strange is unavailable, and Captain Marvel’s name shouldn’t even be invoked. This is actually the first time her superhero name has ever been mentioned. When Peter turns Fury down, he redirects his trip to Prague, Czech Republic instead of Paris, France. While in Easter Alps, Austria, Peter is supplied with a new stealth suit modeled after the all-black Spider-Noir costume. Things get awkward when a sexy European agent orders him to take off his clothes and Peter is caught with his pants down by Brad. Although Brad seemed cool before, he suddenly becomes a jerk who tries to use the photo to get with MJ.

Peter quickly discovers what E.D.I.T.H. can do when he accidentally calls a drone strike on Brad. Making you wonder why Tony would give something so dangerous to a teenager?! Peter webs up the drone without anyone noticing, but things get extra complicated when they arrive in Prague. His class is sent to a boring opera to keep them safe while he fights the final Fire Elemental. Fury is understandably furious at Parker, so Beck has a heart to heart with him before their battle. Peter & MJ gradually get closer, but continually leaving without explanation makes her increasingly suspicious. Betty & Ned follow her when she sneaks out. They’re all caught in the middle of stealth suited Spider-Man and Mysterio’s fight against the emerging Fire Elemental. Ned covers for Peter by saying he’s a European rip-off of Spider-Man called Night Monkey. Another hilarious running gag that comes up several times. The fiery beast gets more dangerous when it draws power from metal, but something suspicious happens when Spider-Man webs onto a cloaked device that MJ finds. Mysterio saves the day while Peter helps his friends. Fury offers Mysterio a position on the Avengers, but tells Parker that he’ll be ready when he steps up.

Peter & Quentin bond even more at a bar where the former makes a decision almost as dumb as Tony giving his address to a terrorist in Iron Man 3. Peter hands E.D.I.T.H. over to Beck since he believes the glasses were meant for someone else. When he leaves, Mysterio finally reveals himself to be the villain as he drops the illusion. Not even death can stop Tony from creating villains that Spider-Man ends up fighting, because Beck and his entire team are all disgruntled ex-employees from Stark Industries. Turns out Beck is the inventor of Tony’s holographic B.A.R.F. projector seen in Civil War. He got fired when Stark called him unstable. Ralphie himself Peter Billingsley returns as another disgruntled employee who was yelled at by Obadiah Stane as far back as the first Iron Man. Beck runs through every other employee’s purpose on his team in a scene that kind of goes on too long, but is important in showing his motivation. Since the world believes in superheroes, Mysterio plans to turn himself into the greatest hero of them all by manufacturing threats with drones creating the illusion. It’s a clever way to draw from modern paranoia, but Beck trying to be threatening in a motion capture suit does throw me off a bit.

When the trip gets called off, Peter tries to make the most of it by taking a walk with MJ. She abruptly figures out he’s Spider-Man and she’s proven right when they both discover Mysterio was behind the Elementals through a lost projector. Ned is only slightly jealous when MJ becomes part of the friends of Spider-Man club. Peter gets into Night Monkey mode while trying to tell Fury everything he knows in Berlin, Germany. When their entire meeting turns out to be an illusion, it leads to my favorite sequence in the entire movie. Mysterio’s mind bending illusions are pure Steve Ditko with several trippy images of Spider-Man placed in his original costumes, fighting clones of himself, accidentally webbing up dangerous objects, and seeing a zombie Iron Man rise from the grave. Fury saves Parker by shooting Beck, but it was yet another ruse to get him to reveal everyone who knows about his deception. Spider-Man is hit by a train and wakes up in the friendly Broek op Langedijk, Netherlands. Peter calls Happy, who arrives in a Stark jet hovering over a field of surprisingly CGI flowers.

Happy is the only person Peter can trust when he gives him a pep talk about living up to Iron Man’s legacy. Hopefully people will stop comparing Spider-Man to Iron Man from here on out. The Infinity Saga comes full circle when Peter works on a new suit to the tune of “Back in Black” by Led Zeppelin? They fly to London, Englund where Mysterio creates his biggest illusion yet. An amalgamation of the Elementals creating an Avengers level threat. He also plans to kill Peter’s friends and Fury using his drones. Fury catches on to Beck, with Hill blowing up a drone that was targeting him. Happy helps Peter’s friends (and Flash) by taking them to a museum where MJ knocks out a drone with a mace. The upgraded spider-suit is similar to the original Stark suit apart from using black instead of blue. Spider-Man glides into battle in order to destroy all of the drone projectors. It’s definitely a unique climax that requires extra creativity when Peter’s web-shooters run out. Spider-Man recreates Cap’s badass hammer wielding moment by carrying a makeshift shield and a bomb that he uses to destroy the drones.

He catches Beck, but he hides in an illusion that tests his “Peter tingle.” Spider-Man wrecks the remaining drones that end up injuring Beck. Further deception that Peter immediately catches onto. Peter deactivates the rest of the drones as Mysterio “dies” from a gunshot wound. After the battle, Peter finally shares an adorkable first kiss with MJ. They become a couple while Ned & Betty suddenly break up. Peter also gets answers about whether or not Aunt May is dating Happy. He’s in love, but she calls it a summer fling. What follows is Spider-Man finally swinging on skyscrapers while texting MJ. The sequel ends when he takes her for a terrifyingly romantic ride through New York. The credits sequence is another fun scrapbook set to “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s. The mid-credits scene is so shocking that I’m still trying to process it. After his swing with MJ, Peter is blindsided by a video of Beck framing Spider-Man for his crimes and revealing his secret identity to the world. More surprising is the news source being an angry balding online commentator version of J. Jonah Jameson from TheDailyBugle.Net.

It’s sad that we’ll never see another Stan Lee cameo, but I practically screamed when J. K. Simmons reprised his irreplaceable role from a whole other universe. The shocking revelation ends on another “What the f-” from Spider-Man. Unfortunately, it’s followed by a post-credits scene that reminds me of everything I didn’t like about Captain Marvel. Ben Mendelsohn and Sharon Blynn reprise their roles as Talos & Soren who were in disguise as Fury & Hill during the entire movie. Not only does it make little sense, it further angers me to know Skrulls are still good guys who did it as a favor to Nick Fury. Fury is actually on a Skrull space station in a beach simulator. I didn’t know it then, but Fury asking for his shoes ended up being the last we saw of the MCU for over a year. All the Marvel Netflix shows were being cancelled, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was ending, the young adult shows were over, and Hellstorm doesn’t count. The financial highs of Endgame (along with releasing it on a Tuesday), helped Far From Home become the highest grossing Spider-Man movie of all time. Spider-Man: Far From Home offers a brief, mind bending, deceptive, and fun look into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

50. Spider-Man Far From Home

Mysterio casts an illusion

Preceded by: Spider-Man: Homecoming & Followed by: Spider-Man: No Way Home

2 thoughts on “Spidey Lives

  1. I wonder when and why EDITH came to be and how Tony thought giving it to Peter was a good idea. Not to mention that Peter had been “dead” for 5 years and only back for the blink of an eye before Tony died.

    Also I was bummed about Aunt May and Happy. I thought they were cute and she just kind of blew it off. It’s funny we didn’t get an Uncle Ben in this version but Peter’s ability to find father figures is unrivaled 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My thoughts exactly. I chock that up to Sony’s need for MCU connections whether it makes sense or not. I’d really like to see Uncle Ben, but you’re right that Peter has literally had every kind of father figure at this point. I guess it’s Doctor Strange’s turn.

      Like

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