Marvel's next movie has arrived: Spider-Man: Far From Home is now in theaters. Ahead of its release, Marvel attempted to capitalize on its impending debut by re-releasing Avengers: Endgame with a bit of added content tacked on the end. That didn't prove to be a major box office draw and it now appears unlikely that it will top Avatar for the record of No. 1 movie of all time.
Endgame was nevertheless a major success and a big turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Far From Home is a direct follow-up and sets up the upcoming Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coming off the acclaimed Spider-Man: Homecoming (as well as the stellar non-MCU animated film Into the Spider-Verse), is this another worthwhile standalone film for Spidey? Read on for our full review, and then check out our guide to the ending and post-credits scenes.
As the last official entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 3, Spider-Man: Far From Home had a lot riding on its shoulders. Not only did it have to somehow fill in all the gaps left by Avengers: Endgame's many "finale" moments, it also had to push things in the MCU forward toward the great big unknown. It's a big ask--especially for the sophomore effort in a character's franchise. But, thankfully, Far From Home rises to the challenge--at least, for the most part.
Picking up immediately where Endgame left off with the devastation of Thanos's snap finally undone, Far From Home does its best to thread the needle between major world-building moments and the John Hughes flavored high school microcosm that worked so well back in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The setup is pretty simple: Endgame happened, people are trying to get back to their lives, and Peter Parker's high school class is going on a European vacation. But, unfortunately, superhero business doesn't really respect the field trip timeline, leaving Peter with both his masked and unmasked lives playing tug-of-war for his time.
It's all mostly endearing. Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon, and Zendaya reprise their roles as Peter, Ned, and MJ with the same energy and chemistry they had in Homecoming, while Tony Revolori's Flash Thompson and Angourie Rice's Betty Brant return as supporting comic relief. Basically every moment between the high school kids trying to cope with the perpetual insanity they keep finding themselves in works, but the balance between that plot and the high stakes superhero action doesn't always hit the mark. Said superhero action comes thanks to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who all really want Peter to drop what he's doing and save the world, no matter the cost, with the help of newcomer Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a man who claims to be from another dimension trying to fight giant monster "Elementals" who plan on destroying the Earth.
Gyllenhaal's Mysterio is a definite standout in the ensemble. He's equal parts charming and hilarious, immediately memorable and wholly unique, complete with maybe the most fun backstory reveal the MCU's ever accomplished. He and Holland are delightful together onscreen, with chemistry for days--so much so that it almost outshines Holland's already stellar dynamic with the rest of his high school classmates, which is nearly detrimental to the rest of the movie. Once things really start going with Mysterio and Spider-Man, every time they're not interacting with one another feels a little like wheel spinning.
That's a small part of one of Far From Home's most glaring problems. It wants, desperately, for viewers to understand that Peter is an absolute necessity in the superhero community after Endgame. The ghost of Tony Stark is everywhere in this film, and the question of whether or not Peter is going to be the person to step up and fill his shoes isn't subtext at all--it's literally asked over and over again. This would be fine, if not for the weird logical hangnails it starts to tug on--like why are grown adults like Nick Fury so comfortable putting that sort of weight on the shoulders of a high schooler when heroes like Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Wasp, etc. are all still around and active? Far From Home relies completely on viewers buying the idea that Endgame has essentially decimated the MCU's entire roster--but we know, just by virtue of watching Endgame, that it absolutely didn't. If anything, it feels like there should be more options than ever before when it comes to people who can save the world. After all, there's a literal city full of Asgardians on Earth now, and Wakanda has gone completely public, to say nothing of the dozens upon dozens of actual, experienced costumed heroes still around.
Stranger still is the complete lack of acknowledgment for Tony's remaining family. Pepper Potts, who we know is a capable hero in her own right with a literal Iron Man armor all her own, never even gets name-checked. Tony's legacy is discussed at length without so much as pausing to remember that he does have a biological heir now. Sure, Morgan Stark is far too young to pick up in her father's place at the moment, but she may as well not exist at all for all the consideration she's given. Similarly, the world seems to be overflowing with tributes and memorials to Iron Man and Iron Man only, as if no other major characters were lost during the fight with Thanos--or, more realistically, as if no one knows or cares.
This strange sort of cherry picking and handwaving in the worldbuilding isn't necessarily new to the MCU as of this movie, but it feels way too obvious in Far From Home. It's not because the movie itself is making mistakes, but because Endgame's looming shadow isn't so easily shrugged off and put away in a neat little box to be dealt with when it's most convenient. It's hard not to feel distracted by the selectiveness of the answers presented--and by the flimsy logic surrounding them--especially if you had any investment at all in the core Avengers team beyond Tony himself.
None of which is to say Far From Home is an unsuccessful movie. It's full of heart and good intentions, clever, quick-witted, and confident enough to pull off some really insane reveals. The parts that work, work very, very well. But the parts that don't tend to feel like stubbed toes or irritating splinters--not life-threatening by any means, but distracting at best and annoying at worst; like someone pulled the curtain back on the MCU's systemic shortcomings a little too far. Still, if you can ignore that--and it'll be easier for some than it is for others, depending on your relationship to the MCU at large--you're in for a pretty good ride.