Spider-Man: Far From Home Review: Spidey’s global outing is far from great
Being a sequel and having to live-up to and improve on the previous film(s) is pretty hard work in itself, but Spider-Man: Far From Home had the even tougher task of being the sequel to both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Endgame. So not only does Far From Home have to bring some action-packed moments and take the friendly neighborhood hero around the world to be a successful sequel, but it also has to touch on what a post-Endgame world is like and explore what was left open from Homecoming. Unfortunately, this is where Far From Home failed as a sequel and it left me feeling frustrated with how a lot of the humor, ideas, and connections just didn’t work.
Picking up with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) after the event of Endgame and Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) death, Far From Home takes Spider-Man’s adventure global as Peter embarks on a class trip to get away from his hero life. However, with new elemental beast causing havoc around the world, Peter’s vacation is suddenly hijacked by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as he must aid a new hero from another world, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). While he still wrestles with his feelings towards Tony’s death and with his feelings towards MJ (Zendaya), Peter must muster up the strength to defeat a new threat and learn what it takes to continue to be a stronger hero.
Now, one of the things that I really enjoyed from Homecoming and Endgame was how strong the humor was and how much it helped build relationships between characters. Even the relationship between Peter and Ned (Jacob Batalon) made a stronger impact because they were so humorous with one another and it created such a stronger connection for viewers to latch onto. None of this is present throughout most of the film as Peter and Ned aren’t together much and most of the humor ends up being really awkward. Frankly, most of the jokes were huge misses and they ended up either lacking a connection that made it more weird than funny or feeling forced to get from scene to scene or gloss over something that may not make sense. Even Ned, someone that was such a strong part of Homecoming, is relegated to having a forced relationship with Betty (Angourie Rice) just to give him something to do and to attempt to add some humor to the film that ultimately fails. Not to mention, the editing in Far From Home actually works against the humor and even some of the action at times because of how jumpy it is. Sometimes it seems like it just quickly wants to transition to the next scene and doesn’t give enough time for movement and jokes to finish so it doesn’t leave anytime for viewers to react to it.
The film also attempts to set up a romance between Peter and MJ, but it never answers this simple question: Why do they like each other? They didn’t have many scenes in Homecoming together and he was even more interested in Liz then, so you sort have to set up why Peter would be so interested in her. Far From Home does none of this and instead has Peter just immediately be in love with her and attempt to build a relationship from here that’s just jarring to see unfold. Honestly, most of the scenes are incredibly awkward, but not in an adorable or fun way. It’s just cringe-worthy at times, especially with the pointless love triangle that Peter is caught up in with another classmate and the “romantic” finale it has. A lot of this stems from the lack of personality that Zendaya is allowed to give to MJ and how long it takes for MJ to break away from her closed-off personality. There’s actually a solid turning point where Zendaya is allowed to break her mold and be a fun, charming character that’s great to see. However, it takes too long to get there, and her only purpose is just to be a love interest for Peter, so MJ still struggles to leave an impression.
The film’s ties to a post-Endgame world aren’t explored enough either and while it presents some interesting thoughts, it doesn’t do anything with them. It’s interesting to see people’s relationships be changed because of The Snap and that people are even displaced because of the changing world. Even the idea of Brad (Remy Hii), a new classmate of Peter’s who rivals him for MJ’s affection, being older now is interesting, but these ideas aren’t explored deeply enough to feel like a world-changing event. Sure, it’s nice to see vigils for Iron Man around the world or the Midtown High School morning show having a crappy looking in memoriam, but it’s all done visually, and we never get to understand what’s really changed in the world. There’s even a lot of talk about if the Avengers are still a thing, but it never goes anywhere or answers its dire questions about the future. Not to mention, I hate that Thanos’ Snap is now being referred to as “The Blip.” It’s a really dumb term that’s used throughout the entire film and I think it’s dumb to make one of the most series moments in the MCU into something comical.
One of the Far From Home’s best attributes definitely comes from Gyllenhaal’s performance as Mysterio and there are some moments that are truly a comic book coming to life on-screen. Gyllenhaal excellently captures the iconic villain’s narcissistic attitude and intimidating stature through his hallucinatory holograms. There’re some absolutely mind-bending moments, after he makes his villainous turn that’s incredibly obvious, that comes that are easily some of the coolest moments in the MCU and capture the nature of Mysterio. Personally, there are a couple things that I would change about him. I hate his non-hologram suit because it looks cheap, I think he would’ve been better if he worked alone to heighten his narcissism and let Gyllenhaal’s acting shine, and I just think that his plan didn’t make much sense. More importantly, though, I despise how his motivation is directly connected to Tony as it highlights a huge problem this film has with how much it constantly refers back to Iron Man.
While it’s no surprise that Far From Home touches on Iron Man, given the fact that he’s now gone and Peter has a strong affinity to him, I actually think the film relies on him too much. One of the big talking points throughout the film is who is going to take over as the new Iron Man and it’s a question that Peter struggles with. There’s even a moment where Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) tells him that he shouldn’t worry about trying to live up to Tony and focus on the hero he is. However, this moments and point is completely undercut after Happy tells him to make a new suit, just like Tony did, and starts to play the same song that was used in Iron Man. The message is completely ruined here, and it actually makes Spider-Man feel like a lesser character to Iron Man and it rubs me the wrong way.
Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you what makes Peter and Tony’s relationship so special or unique because it pretty much just mirrors the relationship he has with Uncle Ben in other iterations. There’re lots of moments in Far From Home that pretty much just replaces Uncle Ben with Tony and I just can’t fathom why this series is just ignoring Uncle Ben entirely. We clearly know that he existed at some point and died and he’s such a strong part of Peter’s growth and lore in general that I just don’t think that replacing him with Tony makes this relationship all that special. Far From Home actually could’ve tied these relationships together to showcase Peter’s overwhelming grief and guilt. It could’ve given viewers a deeper dive into Peter and made him more of a standout character than he is.
Holland’s performance is just as fine as it was in Homecoming, although I do think he’s a bit whinier here, but I really don’t like how this series has captured Peter. Personally, Peter comes off kind of whimsically dumb at times and Mysterio even calls him gullible at one point and I can’t help but think that that’s a perfect way to describe him. You would think that after what happened with Vulture in the previous film that he would be a little more onto Mysterio’s villainous plan or that he’s making a poor choice, but of course he doesn’t. I think this stems for his blind love for Iron Man and this blind love really makes the film less of solo Spider-Man movie.
I will say that the post-credit scenes do set the series in a more solo direction and up the stakes slightly in a more surprising way. The first one definitely focuses on Peter’s future that could lead to an interesting third film and features a cameo that fans will love. The second one left me disappointed as it pretty much follows something that happens from Captain Marvel that hints at a stronger storyline from the comics that I just don’t see happening because they didn’t set it up well. What disappoints me about the post-credit scenes we got, though, is that we don’t get any updates on things from Homecoming. We still aren’t sure what’s happened with Liz and we don’t know what Vulture and Mac are up to and I just think that it’s disappointing to not get anything that was set up in the previous film.
Frankly, Far From Home is far from being satisfying and it’s failure stem from being unable to capture any of the magic of Homecoming or Endgame. It’s really unfortunate that this film has to be the end of Phase 3 of the MCU because it’s such a low note. Personally, I think the series needs to stop having such a heavy hand in the ever-growing event of the MCU so that it can find strong enough legs to stand on. Spider-Man has always been Marvel’s fan-favorite character and always been able to work on his own and it’s unfortunate that this series hasn’t shown that yet.