After the marathon that was Avengers: Endgame, it’s only appropriate that the following addition to the MCU would be a laidback vacation. At least that’s what Peter Parker is looking for in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Peter wants nothing more than to take a EuroTrip with his friends and maybe have a summer romance. Now that Tony Stark has snapped his fingers for the last time, though, Spider-Man is expected to step up as the new Iron Man. Without anyone to give him the “with great power comes great responsibility speech,” Peter becomes lost, misguided, and far from home in more ways than one.
Spider-Man: Homecoming did a wonderful job at cementing Spidey’s place in the MCU, revisiting familiar tropes we saw in past incarnations while also shaking up the status quo. The film was basically a high school coming-of-age comedy, which felt fitting for a hero coming into his own. Peter has gone to space and faced off with Thanos since then, however. So, Far From Home naturally ups the ante by taking the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man out of the neighborhood and to several colorful European destinations. While Far From Home is larger in scale than its predecessor, it’s still lighthearted, humorous, and whimsical enough to distinguish itself from something like Infinity War.
Tom Holland continues to shine as Peter Parker, who spends much of the film living in his mentor’s shadow. Tony Stark has essentially filled the role of Uncle Ben, inspiring while also haunting Peter in death. As far as Peter’s come, he doesn’t feel ready to accept the obligations that come with being a full-time Avenger, or an adult for that matter. Once Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) drops in on his summer getaway, Peter finds that he has no choice but to take on the mantle of the MCU’s new face. Along with Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Fury introduces Peter to a new potential ally named Quentin Beck, who embraces his newfound nickname of Mysterio. Played by Jake Gyllenhaal in one of his most charismatic performances, Mysterio says that his world was destroyed by beings known as the Elementals, who have now invaded Peter’s world. It appears the only ones who can extinguish this threat are Fury’s agents, Mysterio, and a reluctant Spider-Man, who is more concerned with getting closer to Zendaya’s MJ.
Far From Home is one of the most thoroughly absorbing MCU films yet with its spunky one-liners, spectacular action, and scene-stealing supporting performance from Jacob Batalon’s Ned, Angourie Rice’s Betty, and good old Jon Favreau as Happy. It also offers some of the best twists and turns since Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Without giving anything away, there are some revelations you might see coming if you’ve read the comics or spend a lot of time on reddit. For every twist that’s fairly predictable, however, there’s one that completely catches you off-guard without feeling forced. It plays with our expectations in all the right ways, as opposed to the Mandarin reveal in Iron Man 3. Along the way, director Jon Watts treats us to a wide array of mind-bending visuals that capture the essence of a graphic novel while also delving deeper into Peter’s psyche.
While the numerous surprises will leave you pumped for more MCU adventures, it’s Holland’s portrayal of Peter that’ll have you eagerly awaiting the next Spider-Man film. Part of what makes the MCU’s incarnation of Peter so appealing is that he actually feels like a teenager. This isn’t merely because Holland is much younger than Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield were when they got cast as the web-slinger. He’s written with the insecurities and flaws of teenage boy torn between doing what’s right and what’s in his own self-interest. He’s naive, but not to the point where his choices become frustrating. This is a version of Peter we want to see grow over the course of several movies. Far From Home provides an essential stepping stone for the character, as he’s no longer a Spider-Boy, but not yet a Spider-Man.