Haven’t we been here before? Last year, Marvel Studios followed the earth-shattering impact of Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War with the decidedly more low-key and down-to-earth Ant-Man And The Wasp. They repeat that trick again with Spider-Man: Far From Home, a fitting epilogue to Avengers: Endgame that soars while keeping its feet firmly on the ground (as well as walls, bridges and ceilings).
In another franchise or ‘cinematic universe’, this would have been unthinkable, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has proven over and over again that every single one of its films can stand on its own. There is no need to strike while the iron is hot because the iron is ALWAYS hot.
Oh, if you haven’t watched Avengers: Endgame, you might want to look away now. But hey, the movie’s been re-released in cinemas, so there’s no excuse for NOT watching it now.
Anyway, Far From Home takes place eight months after Endgame, and takes a pretty poignant look at how the world is coping after the ‘Blip’, in which half the population was snapped away by Thanos in Infinity War and then ‘blipped’ back into existence five years later, in Endgame.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and most of his classmates – including his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), his crush MJ (Zendaya) and nemesis Flash – were blipped, and returned only to find that many of their peers have grown five years older, and that they have to start their school term all over again.
But don’t worry, we don’t have to sit through scenes of them studying and sitting for tests, because the gang are off to Europe for a school trip! While in Europe, Peter is recruited (more like hijacked) by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to help save the world from a group of destructive ‘Elementals’, with the help of the mysterious Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who reveals that he is from another alternate Earth.
While all that is going on, Peter also has to live up to the expectations of being Tony Stark’s ‘chosen one’, with the help of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). You see, after the sacrifice Tony made to save the universe from Thanos, his legacy (and tech) is passed on to Peter, who now has to deal with the idea of being the ‘next Iron Man’.
After the cosmic, multi-reality, multiple-timeline shenanigans of Endgame, the teenage trials of Peter Parker makes for a refreshing return to the MCU. Having lived (and blipped) through the events of Infinity War and Endgame, Peter is no longer the wide-eyed kid he was in Spider-Man: Homecoming. (“B****, you’ve been to space”, Fury points out when Peter claims he’s just a ‘friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.).
But is he ready to step up and fill the void left behind by Iron Man? It’s a huge burden for a high school kid to bear, especially when all he wants is to spend time with his friends and maybe tell the girl he really, really likes how he feels about her.
It’s fascinating to see how Far From Home builds Tom Holland’s Spidey into perhaps the most well-developed film web-crawler of them all. The superheroic action almost takes a back seat, as the classic Spider-Man notion of “with great power comes great responsibility” is given an almighty spin that pushes Holland’s Spidey further and harder than the Tobey MaGuire and Andrew Garfield versions ever did.
Never mind Uncle Ben – how do you shoulder the responsibility of living up to perhaps the greatest superhero that ever lived, one that literally gave his life to save the entire universe?
That’s not to say the actual superhero stuff isn’t great. It’s not Endgame-scale epic mayhem, but some of the action sequences are quite ingenious, and are tailor-made for Spidey to utilise all of his abilities, including the newly-coined ‘Peter Tingle’ (otherwise known as Spider-sense). Gyllenhaal adds a degree of gravitas to a role that requires him to wear a fishbowl helmet most of the time, but does well as a father figure/superheroic companion for Peter.
While it’s been claimed that this is the TRUE ending to the Infinity Saga, Far From Home doesn’t provide many clues on where the MCU is headed now that the Infinity Saga is finally over. I guess we’ll just have to wait a little longer to see where Phase Four will take us. However, the final film in the Infinity Saga does provide an excellent epilogue to what has been arguably THE most ambitious and epic film sagas of all time.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Director: Jon Watts
Cast: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, and Jake Gyllenhaal.