September 24, 2020

Spider-Man: Far From Home Review

I’ve been a Spider-Man fan my entire life. I basically learned to read with a Spider-Man vs. the Green Goblin at a carnival pop-up book, watched Spider-Man on The Electric Company and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, before beginning to read comics every week. And as good as the previous six Spider-Man movies were, none of them got it completely right…until Far From Home.

In a way, getting Spider-Man right is a balancing act. The previous movies from the Raimi trilogy, through the Amazing Spider-Man films, would get one or two things really great but the balance would tip to far in one direction. For example, the Raimi movies leaned too hard on Peter being mopey and tearful about not being with MJ to the point where he lost his powers because he was sad. The Amazing movies gave us the perfect Gwen Stacy, but the villains hit Batman & Robin levels of camp at times.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is the second of three solo Spider-Man movies in the MCU, the fifth appearance of Tom Holland as Peter Parker, and it’s not only my favorite Spider-Man movie (yes even including Into the Spider-Verse), but it’s my favorite solo MCU film. For the first time the delicate balance of getting Spider-Man right was hit, and they translated the villain to the screen better than any comic book villain before.

Set eight months following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Far From Home is truly an epilogue to the Infinity Saga. The opening moments of the movie refresh people on “The Blip” from Infinity War as well as showing what it looked like when people came back. It also briefly deals with how things are for those who were gone for five years, suddenly being brought back to life.

After that eventful school year, Peter’s class (most of who were Blipped) go on a relaxing vacation to Europe. While there, Elementals begin attacking, only to have Mysterio appear to save the day and claim to be a hero in the absence of Iron Man. If you’ve ever read a comic or watched a Spider-Man cartoon, you know the truth about Mysterio…

But the important thing about the movie is it does strike that balance that’s needed with Peter Parker. He feels like the entire weight of the world is on his shoulders to save it, while he just wants to be with MJ and tell her that he likes her. He doesn’t get weepy and stare longingly at her over a fence like in the Raimi movies. He acts like a normal sixteen-year-old would in that situation.

There’s a moment early in the movie when they first arrive at Venice where Peter goes and buys a glass flower to give to MJ. It’s a short scene, but it’s completely the Peter Parker from the comics. And we get more of that Peter as well, as we see his brilliance on display later in the movie when he comes into his own and out from Tony Stark’s shadow. Homecoming gave hints of this as Peter created his web shooters and the formula for the web fluid, this movie is the next step in that origin.

MJ plays a much bigger role in this movie, and both Holland and Zendaya pull the whole thing off so realistically. It’s never campy or melodramatic. They come off as two realistic teenagers, and they resemble the Peter/MJ relationship from the comic perfectly. This is the MJ from the comics, every bit a strong as Peter. I really can’t wait for more of this Peter and MJ in a third movie.

As for Mysterio. He’s perfect. And I don’t just mean the costume. There’s a sequence late in the movie that is so comic perfect, I really don’t think such a sequence would’ve been possible in the earlier Spider-Man films just from a VFX standpoint. It’s literally panels from a Mysterio issue of the comics pulled off the page and realized in live action. It’s one of the highlights of the entire movie.

And of course the supporting cast from Homecoming is back. Flash’s admiration of Spider-Man (which is part of his character in the comics) is growing, while he still remains comic relief. Ned’s back and it seems his role is a little smaller this time to give more room to MJ, but it works. I was also real happy to see Happy Hogan back and he has a much different relationship with Peter now.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is the end of Phase 3, but there are some things set up here for the future. Those who (wrongly) believed that the MCU Spider-Man series ended with this movie will probably think very differently after they watch this movie, and there’s a little hint at larger things for the MCU if you stay through the credits.

It’s taken six movies to get here, but we finally have a near perfect live action Spider-Man film. I hope we get another dozen of these with Tom Holland.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)