Life After Endgame: A Spider-Man Far From Home Review
Was it… dare I say… Amazing?
Spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home and Avengers: Endgame, as well as other MCU movies, to follow. Read on at your own risk.
After seeing Avengers: Endgame, I didn’t think any movie would “wow” me like it did for a long, long time. I don’t even think Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker has a chance to go beyond what Endgame made me feel. I mean, did you see the Portals scene?
The good new for me was that most movies that I wanted to see post-Endgame weren’t trying to “wow” me, at least not in the same ways. Detective Pikachu turned out to be an oddly good palate-cleanser, as it was the first movie I saw after Endgame; Aladdin and Toy Story 4 were building on my nostalgia for their own predecessors and far from the realm of superhero flicks. And Dark Phoenix, safe to say, didn’t try to “wow” anyone at all.
But Spider-Man was coming.
As you may know from previous reviews, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. Of. All. Time. I mean, I relate to Peter Parker more than any other fictional character. And I’ve been a fan of Spidey for as long as I can remember.
But my favorite hero has had a tumultuous big-screen career. The Tobey McGuire movies were instrumental in paving the road for superhero movies, but the third movie dropped the ball hard (I still enjoy it, but it is not a good movie). And they weren’t the most accurate to the comics, which in large part was probably due to the limitations of technology; I mean, Spidey threw more punches than webs in those movies. And I thought Andrew Garfield did a great job when the reboot came along, but his second movie was riddled with problems- many of which were the same problems that took down Spider-Man 3.
But ever since he first appeared in Civil War, Tom Holland has been a solid, amazing Spider-Man (see what I did there?). His performance has been on par with the greatest in the MCU (dude can go toe to toe with Downey, and if you disagree, well then, Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good) and the definitive Spider-Man on screen. Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of my all-time favorite movies, both within and outside of the MCU.
But Far From Home had a lot to live up to. Despite being an MCU movie, it is still Sony-made, and Sony- while responsible for breathtaking movies like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is also responsible for ruining two of the three live-action Spider-Man franchises they’ve produced. Despite Marvel Studios having full creative control, I haven’t ruled out the possibility (read: probability) that Sony will Sony this one up too, eventually. But beyond that little bit of apprehension I will always have until Sony fully relinquishes the rights to Marvel, the trailers for this- while great- weren’t inspiring Homecoming levels of confidence in me (of course, that is largely due to the fact that they couldn’t tease the real villain- which was the absolute right move); in the trailers, all the Elementals- plus Mysterio- had me slightly worried that they were stuffing too many villains in again.
But worst of all for Far From Home, it had to follow directly after Endgame. It had to be a sequel to Homecoming, and it had to be a sequel to Endgame. How could it possibly live up to all that?
With ease, it seems.
From the start, Far From Home doesn’t even try to outshine Endgame- in fact, it doesn’t even play into the somber tones of that flick, going instead for a light, humorous take on the dour tones of the last two Avengers adventures.
Right from this moment, it is clear that this is going to be a great movie. But it doesn’t become amazing until about halfway through.
As soon as they announced Mysterio would be in this movie, I was excited. He’s an iconic Spidey villain, and one we’ve never seen realized on screen. And when the trailers made him out to be a good buy- fighting the Elementals alongside Spider-Man- I knew there had to be a catch. Mysterio is the villain, he had to be. But how would they pull it off?
Mysterio did not disappoint in the slightest. Jake Gyllenhaal gave a strong performance, first as the hero and friend of Peter, but masterfully twisting into the villain he always was. I mean, the writing around this was so good, and the acting was so good, that even if you came into this movie knowing that Mysterio is the villain- that he is one of the most iconic villains- you quickly forgot that there had to be a twist with his character, and so when it comes, it takes you to the floor.
But the master stroke of this movie is what happens next. Up to this point, Far From Home was working out to be just as enjoyable as Homecoming. But when Mysterio fully, finally attacks Peter with his illusions, I mean, damn. Just damn. They did it. They actually did it. They realized Mysterios to absolute perfection on screen. It was one of the coolest sequences I’ve ever seen. Including Portals in Endgame.
From that moment, the movie transcends being a mere sequel and becomes one of the MCU’s most powerful hits. I mean, if this movie had played by the trailers, and the Elementals had been the big bads, I would have enjoyed it thoroughly, and at the end of the day I would have written a review that said Spider-Man: Far From Home was another great Spidey flick. But with the twist, and how they used Mysterio in this story, it went from being a great Spidey flick to becoming the definitive Spider-Man big-screen story for me.
You see, any movie following Endgame needed to address the Iron-Man-shaped hole in the franchise. But Spider-Man- especially this Spider-Man, who had such a close relationship with Tony Stark- is uniquely positioned to give us a close up look at a world without Iron Man. While serving as a perfect follow-up to Homecoming, Far From Home also works exceptionally well as an epilogue to Endgame.
And even without Downey in the movie, Iron Man’s presence looms large over the characters. For Peter, it is failing to live up to the legacy he sees in Tony. For Happy, the loss of his best friend, and finding a new Tony in Peter. And for Mysterio…
Yes, back to him. Giving Mysterio and his team a backstory of disgruntled Stark Industries employees (and sprinkling them into previous movies, or pulling actors from other movies) was genius story-telling. Showing that Mysterio was created with Stark technology both familiar (B.A.R.F.) and unfamiliar (E.D.I.T.H.) grounded Mysterio so firmly in MCU history. As villains go (and we know the MCU has had some greats, and some not-so-greats), he’s possibly my favorite so far. And it adds so much to the looming shadow of the legacy- both for better or worse- that Tony Stark left behind. After all, Tony created his worst enemies, from Obadiah Stain to Ultron to Aldrich Killian. And even in death, he created Mysterio, too.
This is a story that could only follow Endgame- as Mysterio’s team are trying to position him as the next Tony Stark, while Peter is struggling with the weight of trying to live up to Tony’s legacy- and it works so. Damn. Well. It is the perfect conclusion to Phase 3 while also being the perfect intro to what is to come. It shows us that things move on from Thanos. The world still turns.
I loved this movie. I mean, I seriously loved it. It is Spider-Man at his finest, it is pure entertainment from start to finish, it is everything we needed to follow the blockbuster events of Infinity War and Endgame, and the ultimate starting point for everything to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a damn good movie. It is something I haven’t ever seen before, and that’s damn refreshing for a hero who’s been rebooted twice, and a movie franchise on it’s 23rd flick. The character of Spider-Man has always brought me so much joy, and this movie was the culmination of everything I love about the character. This movie is why I go to movies. This is amazing and spectacular. This is Spider-Man.
Alright, so I always have some loose threads to unravel after the main review, things that didn’t work their way into the flow of what I was writing. So here they are, in no particular order:
- J. Jonah. Jameson. I gotta start there. I mean, come on. It was inevitable that Jameson would return to the big screen. And frankly, I was always dismayed at this, because no one could ever play the character better than J.K. Simmons did in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. But apparently the makers of this movie agreed, so they got Simmons to play him again. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier. I mean, if there was ever perfect casting, it was Simmons, so why replace him? Even if he was in a different franchise, it is kinda like Judi Dench playing M in the James Bond reboots. She is so good at the role that of course, they’d have her reprise it, and so, dear reader, is Simmons. Plus, who else would show up on the news defaming and unmasking Spider-Man for the world to see?
- Oh, and that scene! I mean, it is perfect for Spider-Man, as Peter never gets off easy; sure, he won the fight with Mysterio, but he didn’t win for long. I can’t wait to see where they take this in the next movie.
- Oh, oh! And the other end credit scene. I mean, the whole movie I felt something was slightly off about Nick Fury. And revealing that it had been a Skrull the whole time- and not just any Skrull, but Talos, portrayed again by the scene-stealing Ben Mendelsohn- was hilarious. And after seeing it a second time, there are several indicators of the deception. Firstly, when introducing Peter to Quentin Beck (a.k.a. Mysterio), Nick Fury (a.k.a. Talos) tells Peter, “Beck is from Earth, just not your Earth.” Wouldn’t Nick Fury (the real one) say “our Earth”? Plus, you can also catch Not-Nick Fury and Not-Maria Hill talking about Kree sleeper cells later in the movie. Also, it works as a cheeky way to explain why Nick Fury never called any of the Avengers to help out (“What am I supposed to say to that?”).
- Michael Giacchino once more brings a magnificent score to the movie. Joining alongside his main Spider-Man theme comes some great themes for Nick Fury and for Mysterio, the latter of which twists along with the character from an uplifting heroic theme to one of the villain, just by tweaking a couple of notes. I can’t get it out of my head. But he also brings back a few subtle themes, working in Alan Silvestri’s theme from Avengers as well as his own Iron Man theme from the previous Spidey flick to add some weight to the absence of Tony Stark. But honestly, no matter which track you are listening to on the soundtrack, Giacchino brings an electric energy to match the fun and action on screen.
- Alright, so I said the Mysterio mind-trick scene was one of the best sequences of cinema I’ve ever seen, but one that was equally amazing was the final battle with Mysterio. One of the few faults I found with Homecoming was that there wasn’t a major showdown between Spider-Man and the Vulture- I mean there was a showdown, but it was over so quickly, and didn’t utilize Spidey’s abilities to their fullest extent. But in this battle, you really got the sense of why Spider-Man is the best hero to thwart Mysterio, and how he uses all of his strengths against Beck. From using his shock-webbing to disable the illusion Beck is creating to his quick intellect to create a way to get past Beck’s drones and get up to the villain when he is out of webbing, all of Parker’s abilities are called into action. But most of all, his Spidey-sense. Or, rather, the “Peter Tingle.” That final hallway fight with Peter using only his Spidey-sense to see through Beck’s illusions and destroy the drones was powerful. It was the showdown I’d been waiting through six Spider-Man films to see. It was epic.
- And also, Beck being killed by his own weapon felt true to the Spider-Man stories. Spider-Man doesn’t kill, but often his enemies injure or kill themselves in the process of trying to accomplish their goal. I mean, look at previous flicks, with Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus causing their own deaths.
- As with the previous film, the minor characters were a major part of my enjoyment of the film. From returning faces like Ned and the other classmates to the new characters like the science teacher who thinks everything is witches, they are all memorable and fantastic. But none shine better than Happy Hogan. From the man who started all of this when he directed Iron Man all those years ago, Jon Favereau brings some heavy emotion to this movie. Serving as the anchor between Peter and the loss of Tony Stark, Happy is crucial to this movie, and frankly, I’m glad he still has such an important part to play in this franchise, even without his boss around. And his mentoring Peter and coaxing him to be himself, not the next Iron Man, and playing AC/DC when Peter starts making his new suit… I’m not crying, you’re crying.
- The romance between MJ and Peter was also one of the highlights in a movie full of highlights. It was awkward, it was very much high school awkward, and it brought me right back to high school days. I mean, I was like Peter, too nervous to talk to the girl I liked, and I had friends like Ned and Betty, who had blink-and-you’ll-miss-it relationships. One of the greatest things about this movie, and it’s predecessor, is that the parts without Spider-Man fighting bad guys are just as enjoyable and compelling as the superhero stuff.
- It was Amazing Spider-Man, it was Spectacular Spider-Man. I mean Marvel has been showing is for ten years how to do good superhero flicks, but after seeing this, I feel like we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Like they were just playing before, but now we are getting to business. If this movie is any indication of where we are going after Endgame, we are in for one hell of a ride.
- I just can’t believe how satisfied I am with it. Like it simultaneously gave me everything I wanted in a Spider-Man movie and a follow up to Endgame. I mean, Endgame satisfied the hell out of me, and this topped it. I can’t wrap my head around it. I get to buy Endgame in a couple of weeks, and Marvel managed to make a movie that makes me feel like that’s a consolation prize until I can own this movie.
As customary when we have a series this incredibly, long, I feel I must give a place to where I feel Spider-Man: Far From Home fits on my list of Marvel movies. Now, I’m a bit biased, as I’ve made it clear my love for Spider-Man, and it may change once I get to rewatch Endgame later this month, but for right now, it goes securely on top. And frankly, a lot of that has to do with Mysterio, as had it not been for the last half of this movie, I think it would have tied with Homecoming, instead. Here’s the full list:
(and as I said when I first created this list on my Ant-Man and the Wasp review, I reserve the right to change my mind at the drop of a hat…or when the next Marvel movie comes out)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Avengers: Endgame
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1 and 2 (tied)
- Captain America: Civil War
- Captain Marvel
- Iron Man 3 (seriously, guys, get over it, that twist was great)
- Thor: Ragnarok
- The Avengers
- Black Panther
- Doctor Strange
- Captain America: Winter Soldier
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Iron Man
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Iron Man 2
- Thor: The Dark World
- The Incredible Hulk
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