Directed by: Jon Watts
Written by: Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jake Gyllenhaal
Following the largest film in the history of cinema in regards to the box office receipts gave this story no favors narratively. It needs to handle the aftermath of the events of Avengers: Endgame while also being a Spider-Man story and just like Spider-Man: Homecoming, this film becomes far too attached to Tony Stark for me to have any investment in this iteration of Peter Parker.
With the events of the big battle unfolding, which has left Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) dead, the young superhero looks forward to the future. What is referred to as “The Blip” caused a five-year disappearance of half of Peter’s school and now they are all back and have to repeat the grade, despite protests by the recently undusted students. This leads to Peter and other members of his class to embark on a two-week vacation in Europe where hopefully he can profess the feelings he has for MJ (Zendaya). In order to fully enjoy the experience, Peter leaves his suit behind and ignores the calls of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
Personally, connecting to this iteration of Spider-Man has been difficult because it lacks the true grit that the Sam Raimi films had. Those movies felt like Peter Parker truly struggled and he lived in New York. It showed that he was the friendly neighborhood hero. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man never really struggles and just has all these different suits thrown at him. The character has lost that identity and only proves it by moving the character away from his city. It all stems from the connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Instead of letting Peter Parker be his own character, he has this unbreakable attachment to Tony Stark and even when he dies, Iron Man remains laced through the entire story. One with Peter mourning his death and then receiving the weaponry that Stark left him to protect the world. Something intended to be a sweet moment, but it only opened up more ethical issues of the legacy of Iron Man. Stark leaves Peter these glasses that have control of a drone program capable of murdering whoever he wants. Apparently, this massive drone system, casually sitting out in space and conveniently never mentioned before, gets dropped off into the hands of a teenager. No one has any issues with it, or that Stark has been holding onto this technology for what purpose exactly? Parker has been heralded as the heir of Stark to the world, but Spider-Man: Far From Home becomes careless with its representation of Stark continually amassing destructive weaponry that could easily get in the hands of someone with more sinister ideas. It betrays the character arc of Tony Stark, who just died in the previous film.
This hero has no identity, further proven by the villain, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). In Spider-Man: Homecoming, the main adversary Vulture (Michael Keaton) is a disgruntled employee of Tony Stark that happens to get annoyed by Parker because the young lad gets in his way of getting vengeance on his former employer. It’s fine, I guess, for the first film to have this storyline since Spider-Man has not been established yet, but to then have Mysterio be linked to Tony Stark as well becomes beyond baffling. It serves no purpose and defines lazy storytelling. Gyllenhaal gives it his all with this villain, for sure, but I was completely bored by the motivation and just how contrived it all became. He’ll certainly cash in the Marvel check and go back to making great independent films again.
Tom Holland’s great portrayal of the character, remains the bright light of these solo efforts, which many say is the truest representation of this character from the comics. He brings a certain naivete to the role that works because he genuinely does not know his responsibilities and takes it all in. His relationship with MJ works in the story because of their awkwardness and how Holland and Zendaya play off each other. This love story drives the entire motivation of Spider-Man in the film until he’s pulled into another battle he doesn’t want any part in. The other supporting characters include some regulars like Nick Fury and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who mentioned Tony Stark throughout the entire film because Peter reminds them of the fallen hero.
Spider-Man: Far From Home has the intention of being a fun time with these students as they traverse through Europe, find love, and run into some trouble but the filmmakers wanted it all to be connected to the higher scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This resulted in the memory of Tony Stark hovering over the entire narrative and not letting Spider-Man be his own person. He may get the opportunity in the confirmed third installment, but it’s baffling to me that it will take the third film of this trilogy for the character to have his own true story.