What did YOU do on your summer vacation?
It’s more or less a fact of life that we don’t become the people we are inside that structured group setting but rather we find ourselves when we let ourselves stretch and make some room for ourselves. That’s exactly what Spider-Man: Far From Home is because it’s about understanding what’s inside of you as an individual while operating inside the box of what’s expected of us, but at the same time understanding when you need to break out of all that and become the individual that you were meant to be.
With life slowly returning to normal after the events of Avengers: Endgame, our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to leave the responsibilities of his suit and powers behind him are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent with only Quentin Beck, or otherwise known as Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to help them.
As we’ve gotten used to these monstrous spectacle building films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Spider-Man: Far From Home actually manages something that is disarmingly charming as it dials it back to the roots of the Spider-Man character in making something that is light and fun yet still carries some genuine meaning all at the same time.
I’ll say this once, so we don’t forget it…because a lot of audiences actually have. It’s OK for comic book movies to be light and entertaining once in a while, even when cities are getting messed up and destruction is everywhere. Jon Watts who returns to the directing chair again has a keen and important understanding of this. The film looks great and has an effortless sense of flow about it thanks to the script from writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers which strikes a balance between the scope of the action and the stakes in front of us and the fact that Peter Parker is still a teenage and has been having to process some pretty heavy shit over the past little while.
Together they all keep the tome of the proceedings nice and light, but always serious. It a nice thing when these comic book movies actually feel like comic books again and less like dark and brooding graphic novels. Trying to dial back the intensity of it all is actually a masterstroke in the story telling department before they begin to ramp it all up again and everyone involved here has a real sense of that necessity as we delve into the next chapters of the MCU.
Tom Holland has genuinely found the voice of the character here and he evolves Peter into a young man who is trying to take the weight of the world on his shoulders while the adults around him just want him to act on his instincts. He’s in that conflicted coming of age moment that we all face at some stage in our lives and he plays it with aplomb and gives equal weight to the fact that buildings are crumbling around him thanks to strange monsters attacking cities and that he has no idea how to express his feelings to MJ. It all just feels like more than he is capable of and just isn’t sure if he’s ready for the responsibilities that Tony Stark has now thrust upon him. He’s in the grips of the eternal struggle of “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility” which means that in many ways, Tony Stark is the Uncle Ben in this incarnation of Spider-Man.
Holland brings a familiar yet fresh energy to it all that is hard to be forgotten and is unquestionably the anchor for the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the next decade to come.
All the supporting players return with fantastic results as Zendaya feels more fleshed out as MJ and a real match for Holland’s conflicted and confused Peter Parker. Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revelori, Angourie Rice, Martin Starr, Samuel L Jackson, Cobie Smulders and J.B Smoove all round the ensemble well. Jake Gyllenhaal is a fine foil this time out opposite our hero, playing it psychotically cocky to the hilt as Mysterio (a jilted ex-employee of Tony Stark).
Ironically, Spider-Man: Far From Home actually might be one of the weaker entries in the MCU as it only movies the needle of the narrative just enough to get us to the next stage of the story (which based on the mid-credit sequence will be a doozy), but I can say with certainty that I’m actually OK with that. This was just a fun, light popcorn fuelled tent pole of a movie to have some fun with, and isn’t that part of the reason why we go to the movies in the first place?