Retro Review — Spider-Man: Far From Home
How many times has Marvel promised the multiverse, only to snatch it away at the last instant?
We had famous examples with WandaVision and Loki in 2021, but Disney pulled the rug out from under us even earlier than that.
In a 2019 movie, the first MCU title after Avengers: Endgame, a superhero from another dimension saved us all*.
That asterisk provides the first demonstration of how the MCU as a whole has proven an unreliable narrator with the concept of the multiverse.
Here is a three years later retro review of Spider-Man: Far From Home, the film that set the table for the franchise to save movie theaters a few years later.
After the Blip
During the Avengers: Endgame discussion, I had plenty of fun with the odds of the various mishaps.
For example, Hawkeye somehow lost his whole family but lived. It’s…mathematically improbable.
We quickly learn that the same statement applies to the gang from Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Peter Parker, MJ, and Ned all blipped, leaving them the same age. The story has some fun with this, as another kid who didn’t blip is now an Adonis.
Meanwhile, one of the teachers reveals that his wife faked a blip to run away with another dude. As he says it, the funeral was real, but the blip wasn’t.
Director Jon Watts demonstrates his comedic skill throughout the film, which trends toward a EuroTrip sequel as much as Spider-Man, high praise from me.
The premise is that Peter and the gang take a school trip to Italy. After one flight, Ned has fallen in love with Betty Brant, who unexpectedly reciprocates.
This bit is legitimately one of my favorite gags in the MCU to date. It’s so very high school, with a tempestuous relationship rising and then collapsing in a matter of days.
Meanwhile, we get a bit of foreshadowing, as Peter Parker feels alone. He has lost his mentor and surrogate father figure, Tony Stark.
Meanwhile, he’s still too immature to tell MJ how he feels, and she’s too busy investigating Peter’s quirky behavior to notice the obvious.
Far From Home packs in a lot of story during its tight two hours. And the best part is the villain.
Hero from Another Dimension
“To have a good enemy, choose a friend; he knows where to strike.”
That profound quote drives much of the plot of the Spider-Man sequel.
Parker needs new guidance and direction in his life after Stark’s death. The teen believes he has found it in the form of Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio.
The backstory for Mysterio involves acts of superheroism in an alternate dimension, another part of the multiverse.
Since everyone knew that Marvel was moving in this direction, we bought it hook, line, and sinker.
After all, there is a Mysterio in the comics, but a supervillain. In another universe, he could easily have become a hero instead.
Mysterio somehow earns the trust of Nick Fury, who is really the person to blame here. That dude’s supposed to be the world’s greatest espionage agent!
If Fury cannot deduce that Beck’s the villain in the piece, what hope does a teenager have?
Something I admire more on rewatch is how the story careens between deadly serious and slapstick funny.
To wit, one scene is likely a reference to EuroTrip, wherein a woman (NOT Lucy Lawless) forces him to strip, only for MJ’s other suitor to walk in.
The dude miscalculates when he takes a picture, leading the blonde woman to pull out her gun.
Then, Parker uses his final gift from Stark, overpowered Google Glasses, to…call down a drone strike on the guy. It’s something of an overreaction.
Of course, Spidey didn’t mean to do that. He’s just always in over his head.
These sequences dovetail nicely with the actual horror of Beck’s betrayal.
By the way, Zendaya nails her role as the sleuth uncovering the mystery of Spider-Man’s secret identity.
Rewatch the drone strike scene if you doubt this. She’s three steps ahead the whole time.
I actually find the Mysterio story arc quite vicious in nature. Please think about him as if he were a real person.
The dude recognizes a lonely boy searching for tutelage. He pretends to help the kid, but it’s a ruse. He’s using a kid to regain what he lost from Tony Stark.
This story milks sympathy in a way you might not even notice at first. It’s quite manipulative when you recognize what’s happening, though.
Parker desperately seeks approval, and this jerk insincerely promises it, only to snatch it away later. Oh, and he tries to murder Parker several times, too.
Something else I notice this time is what a linear thinker Beck is. The monsters he creates with drone tech use water and fire. How original.
This guy isn’t fit to take the helm after Stark’s death, which makes him the perfect foil here. Peter Parker IS worthy, and he proves it by besting Mysterio.
Of course, before that happens, we get all kinds of swerves. Mysterio pretends to sacrifice himself nobly while fighting a lava monster.
This bit of “heroism” earns Fury’s respect. Then, Mr. S.H.I.E.L.D. turns around and scolds a kid for only saving some people.
I realize that everyone has a bad day, but Fury must have lost some integral brain cells when he blipped.
That dude nearly gives the planet to a megalomaniac who created something called B.A.R.F.
I’m half-tempted to pledge my loyalty to HYDRA after rewatching Far From Home.
The High Points
Any discussion of Far From Home should include MJ’s reveal. Look, I think Zendaya is a superstar of the highest order.
She and Tom Holland possess insane chemistry pretty much all the time.
However, they go above and beyond with this, probably the best secret identity reveal in film history.
She’s suspected all along. Still, once Parker admits it, she’s something between surprised, confused, and braggy.
The scene with Ned finding out that MJ has found out cracks me up. Ned reflexively brags that he’s known longer as a bit of territorialism. That’s terrific.
Of course, what’s even funnier is that when Nick Fury shows up to help Parker save the day, he blames the kid (!) for what has happened.
You were born in the 1940s, dude! Take some responsibility! That kid wasn’t hanging out with Captain Marvel at Blockbuster in 1995!
Anyway, Parker proves remarkably resilient and again does something similar to EuroTrip when he befriends local hooligans in The Netherlands.
After a silly jail escape, Parker returns to his true mentor, Happy Hogan, and makes an A+ Led Zeppelin joke. This film is MUCH more of a comedy than I remembered.
Honestly, watching this so soon after Spider-Man: No Way Home, I’m kind of in awe of Far From Home. It really sets the tone for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.
In fact, the ending of that film seems that much more horrible given what happens here. The only thing worse is that Ned and Betty’s love didn’t last.
Oh, yeah, there’s also that mid-credits scene that opens up the multiverse for real.
God, I love everything about this movie. A+.
As a lifelong Fantastic Four fan, I cannot wait to see what Jon Watts does with that film!