There’s a prominent poster in the support group scene in “Avengers: Endgame” which poses the question: ‘Where Do We Go Now That They’re Gone?’ and in many ways, that’s the exact question Peter Parker is wrestling with in “Spider-Man: Far From Home”. As he struggles to come to terms with the loss of his mentor Tony Stark and the world comes to terms with ‘The Blip’, Peter sees his upcoming school trip to Europe as the perfect opportunity to get away from it all. But when elemental creatures from another dimension breakthrough to threaten the Earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) seeks out Spider-Man to aid his newest super-recruit, the mysterious Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal).
With “Endgame” being a tough act to follow, the biggest challenge “Far From Home” faced was how to extricate itself from the massive pile of unanswered questions left by the conclusion of the Infinity Saga which preceded it. It does so in pitch-perfectly Spider-Man style with a cheesy montage which tacitly acknowledges the snap/return’s ramifications but then hastily moves on without really addressing the social, economic and legal turmoil which would have inevitably followed the victory over Thanos. I guess that’s all we’ll really get about that literally cosmic event and you know what? I think I’m fine with that.
It doesn’t take long before the expertly weaponised likability of the cast brings you out of your post-“Endgame” melancholy and infuse you with their own giddy sense of enthusiasm. Except, of course, when it evokes the memory of Iron Man to measure all of its would-be heroes against. Dammit, I already miss Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark – I don’t need the movie I’m watching to do it too!
The fun really begins when a water elemental attacks Venice and we’re first introduced to Quentin Beck a.k.a. Mysterio. For a franchise which is often undervalued for its thematic qualities, the pick of Mysterio as the villain (hardly a spoiler except for anyone who’s never heard of Spider-Man before) is a perfect foil for the movie to explore the current real-world issue of fake news and media spin, something the movie doubles and then triples down on in the mid and post-credits scenes.
The action sequences are superb but it’s the character-driven story that really makes “Spider-Man: Far From Home” work. It’s just a big, happy bundle of fun, with the school trip hijinks every bit as entertaining as the super-heroics, which themselves take bringing comic book pages to life to a new level. While the fights with the Elementals are routinely impressive, it’s in the Spider-Man versus Mysterio fight scenes that the movie dazzles, bringing a more comic-book accurate fight between Spidey and the master of illusion than I ever expected to see brought to life on the big screen.
While I’m not a fan of the idea of positioning Spider-Man as the new Iron Man in the MCU, I can understand why the MCU has to at least explore that direction. Spidey works best for me when he’s not out saving the galaxy but working at the street level in New York City. Certainly, that’s where the mid-credits scene places him and spectacularly sets the stakes for the third film in Tom Holland’s Spider trilogy while the end credits teaser looks to a more cosmic horizon as well as tidying up some niggling doubts you may have had about what you’ve just watched.
Marvel’s 23rd MCU feature film sees the franchise close out Phase 3, and The Infinity Saga, on a confident note, showing no signs of fatigue yet.