Far From Perfect?: A Review of Spider-Man - Far From Home
Avengers: Endgame is a tough act to follow. The film was a culmination of ten years worth of buildup culminating in one final snap, and an amazing end to each and every single character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many fans of the films, myself included, would have been fine to let the series end here, or at least rest for a while, as any film to follow Endgame would have some big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, Spider-Man: Far From Home struggles to even live up to the rest of its peers in Phase 3, let alone Endgame.
Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place shortly after Endgame’s conclusion, dealing with the world’s recovery from what they are calling ‘The Blip’, as well as the loss of many of the prevalent Avengers. For his part, Peter Parker (played once again by Tom Holland) is asked to step up by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), to become the hero the world needs him to be, rather than just a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. At the same time, Parker and his friends set off on a summer trip with their school to Europe, where Parker aims to confess his feelings for “MJ” (played by Zendaya), and while all of this is happening, Elemental Monsters are appearing around the globe, bringing destruction and death and a new hero in the form of Jake Gylenhaal’s Mysterio, a traveler from an alternate earth here to save us from the beasts that burned his planet to ash. If that sounds like a lot to process, it’s because it is. Not since Iron Man 2 has there been an MCU film with so many plot threads and ideas in it running all at once, and unfortunately, this film is about as balanced as that one was.
For starters, the emotional lynchpin of the film is supposed to be Peter’s relationship with MJ, and how he’s thinking he’d rather be with her than potentially keep being Spider-Man, but there’s a huge problem with that: Peter and MJ have very little chemistry, or even screen time shared with one another. It was hinted at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming that you could see Peter and MJ developing feelings for one another but by the start of Far From Home, MJ is all Peter is talking about or concerned with. It absolutely feels like we missed a few huge key steps in character development to get to this point, and that takes me out of the situation and out of the movie. Not to mention, Peter spends the majority of the film talking about MJ without actually interacting with her. By the end of the film I feel like I barely know who MJ is just because she has so little time to speak for herself in a movie that’s supposed to be about choosing between a normal life and a super one! Compare this to 2004’s Spider-Man 2, which also had Spider-Man grappling with this same issue, except there, the conflict felt real because you’d seen Mary Jane Watson for two movies as a main character, and it was clear the two of them liked each other. For as hokey as the Raimi movies get accused of being, they at LEAST got character drama correct.
The second biggest problem I have with Far From Home is its inconsistent tone. The film flip flops between world ending drama and almost sitcom humor throughout, to the point where the humor really starts to grate. In the past, Marvel films have always struck a good balance between drama and humor. A quip here, action scene there. But here, there are just long stretches of time where a “funny exchange” languishes on screen for about 3-4 lines too long, or the same joke is repeated over and over again (looking at you, Ned and Betty’s tired, TIRED summer romance). I’ve seen folks online talk about “the Marvel Formula” when it comes to script writing in regards to this joke/action balance, but it’s never distracted or detracted from the films until now.
With all that said, you may think I come away from this movie entirely hating it, but I don’t. I certainly didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to, but there is one saving grace that this film has and that is the character of Jake Gylenhaal’s Mysterio. Without spoiling anything (though if you know anything about Mysterio from his comics incarnation this is hardly an issue) I can definitively say that Mysterio is the most visually interesting character in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. There are huge chunks of the film that are not shown off in the trailers, two of which actually made my jaw drop. I’m actually really hoping that his character returns in a future film, so that we can have more scenes like the few bright spots here in Far From Home. I would love to go into greater detail, but doing so would risk spoilers, so I’ll simply say that Mysterio alone makes the movie worth seeing, if only for a bargain day viewing or a matinee.
Additionally, the mid and post-credits scenes for this film are some of the most important ones we’ve had in ages, both for nostalgia’s sake, and for the future of the MCU as a whole. But it’s really kind of sad to think that the thing about Far From Home that got me the most excited and intrigued came after the movie was essentially over.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is far from perfect, and I’m honestly not sure if it’s the best way to close out such a momentous era as Marvel’s Infinity Saga, but it’s the ending we got. I sincerely hope the next film in the MCU delivers better storytelling, theming and character writing than what I saw here. If it doesn’t, then I honestly don’t know if I’ll see these films so close to release anymore. I give Spider-Man: Far From Home a 6.5/10.